As Georgian's we are very fortunate to have a diverse range of regions. We have beaches, coastal plains, foothills, canyons, mountains and much more. We are also lucky to have a very robust state park system. The Georgia State Park network has over 40 parks and many more historic sites that protect nearly 75,000 acres. These parks provide a great opportunity for a family outing or just a reconnection with nature and/or the history and culture of our state. Many of the parks are just a short drive from metro Atlanta. Click here for a state map.
Some of the most popular parks within driving distance of Atlanta are Amicalola Falls, Vogel and Sweetwater Creek. The falls at Amicalola are the tallest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River and are absolutely beautiful. Additionally, there are numerous trails to hike around the 800+ acre park. At Vogel State Park, you can see some of the most picturesque scenes in all of Georgia. The park is at the base of Blood Mountain and offers some of the best camping in the state. With lake and mountain views, this one is a must visit. Sweetwater Creek is perhaps more famous right now for the beer that shares its name but the park is as good as if not better than the beer. The creek is a nice setting for relaxing, fishing or feeding ducks but our favorite part is the visitor center which is one of the most environmentally friendly buildings in Georgia. It is LEED - NC Platinum certified which is the highest rating that the US Greenbulding Council gives.
Sprawl has been and continues to be an issue for many of the parks around metro areas. The National Park Trust has been evaluating and working on these issues for more than a decade. Unfortunately, many of our parks in the metro area have already been encroached upon by commercial and residential development. The current economic crisis is impacting reparis and maintenance in the parks and we should expect to see continued cutbacks with proposed budget shortfalls.
Regardless of these issues, our park system is robust and is there to be enjoyed by everyone in Georgia. Get out and go for a hike and don't forget to bring your camera (with charged batteries).
Look for upcoming posts featuring many of our state parks and their surrounding areas.
Website - www.gastateparks.org
Park pass - $30/year or generally $3/day for parking
Pets - Most of the parks offer hiking and I have found that they are usually dog friendly. It is always a good idea to check ahead to be sure if you are bringing your canine companion. Many of the parks offer camping and some offer RV hookups if that is your style.
Related Groups and Organizations - Friends of Georgia State Parks, Get Outdoors Georgia