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Where to hike, swim and camp across Georgia

Looking for ways to cool off, stay fit and have fun with your family this summer? Georgia offers plenty of outdoor recreation if you know where to look.

State parks* offer dozens of opportunities to hike, camp and swim all summer. You’ll explore parts of Georgia you may never have seen before, and you’ll get great exercise while you do it.

With parks located around the state, it’s easy to find the perfect day trip for you and your family. Even city dwellers can experience nature close to home. 

North Georgia

  • Don Carter State Park. This is the first and only state park on Lake Lanier. Experience one of Georgia’s best-known lakes in a new way, and bring your boat for a day on the water. Swimming opportunities are plentiful, and campsites are also available.
  • Black Rock Mountain. What’s the great outdoors without great views? Visit this state park to see what the Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites Division calls “some of the most outstanding scenery in Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.” With four hiking trails and several campgrounds, this is the place for stunning vistas at the far northern reaches of Georgia.

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Atlanta area

  • Sweetwater Creek State Park. Perhaps the best-known state park in the Atlanta area, Sweetwater Creek blends nature with history – all just a few miles from the city center. Hike trails, explore mill ruins or just come by for a picnic.
  • Panola Mountain. Want a quick city day trip with activities for kids? Panola Mountain has something for you. This granite mountain will keep your little ones busy with a playground and picnicking locations, and there are also hiking trails and campsites for the more adventurous.

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Middle Georgia

  • Providence Canyon. Technically a state recreation area and not a park, Providence Canyon is one of the most beautiful – and unusual – locations in Georgia. With more than 10 miles of hiking trails and opportunities for backcountry camping, according to the Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites Division, the “Little Grand Canyon” is a great place to spend a couple of hours or a couple of nights.
  • F.D. Roosevelt State Park. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt visited Georgia to alleviate his polio, he came to this part of the state. Today, you’ll find dozens of miles of hiking trails here, as well as quite a few campsites. Swimming is available too at the Liberty Bell Pool, which the Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites Division notes was built as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs during the Great Depression.

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 South Georgia

  • Laura R. Walker State Park. The swampy land you’ll find at this state park may remind you more of a Floridian landscape than a Georgian one. In fact, alligators indeed call this park home. But Laura R. Walker State Park offers plenty of appeal for non-reptiles too: You can hike several miles of trails, according to the Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites Division.
  • Kolomoki Mounds State Park. This park offers both outdoor recreation and deep Native American history. Visit Kolomoki to see what the Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites Division calls Georgia’s oldest grand temple mound, dating back to 350 A.D., and a museum to learn about the Native Americans who occupied the site. Camping, swimming and hiking are all available at Kolomoki.

*Article reference: the Department of Natural Resources’ Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites Division

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