Explore Natural Beauty in the Georgia Mountains
Take advantage of the natural landscape by visiting lakes, rivers, and parks to enjoy the mountains all year round!
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Natural beauty in North Georgia mountains
These amazing places are a big part of what makes the North Georgia mountains so special. Visit these icons that are well-known around the world.
North Georgia State Parks
Visiting Georgia state parks requires a Georgia State Parks ParkPass (Single Visit $5 / Annual $50). Georgia residents can check with their local library for loaner ParkPasses that can be checked out like books.
birds of prey shows, GPS scavenger hunts, and 3-D archery! Stop and rest at the restaurant or stay overnight at the lodge. This park allows friendly pets on a short sturdy leash (not exceeding 6 feet in length).
Ask about the Fishing Tackle Loaner Program to borrow rods, reels, and tackle box equipment for a day of fishing.
This wedding venue can accommodate from 10 guests to 150 guests and offers a handful of different park locations!
- Phone: +1 (706) 344-1500
- Address: 418 Amicalola Falls Road, Dawsonville, GA
Visit the 1,743-acre Black Rock Mountain State Park and enjoy the 17-acre lake along with cottages, campsites, and picnic shelters. Hike along 11 miles of trails or enjoy fishing, geocaching, paddling, photography, and picnicking.
- Phone: +1 (706) 746-2141
- Address: 3085 Black Rock Mountain Parkway, Mountain City, GA
Additional activities include biking, fishing, geocaching, horseback riding, mini-golf, and rentals of Jon boats, kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, aqua cycles, and pedal boats.
- Phone: +1 (706) 422-1932
- Address: 181 Fort Mountain Park Road, Chatsworth, GA
Rent a Lakehouse on Lake Burton for your trip, or find other ways to enjoy boating, camping, geocaching, a few miles of hiking trails, and rentals of kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards.
Test your fishing skills against the spotted bass, largemouth bass, and brown trout in Lake Burton. Ask about the Fishing Tackle Loaner Program to borrow rods, reels, and tackle box equipment for a day of fishing.
- Phone: +1 (706) 947-3194
- Address: 3655 Highway 197, Clarkesville, GA
Smithgall Woods State Park sits on over 5,000 acres and includes cottages, campgrounds, picnic shelters, and a visitor center with a gift shop. There is plenty to do and see, including archery, biking, birdwatching, guided hikes, geocaching, and hunting. Weddings are allowed with advance park approval.
Be sure to visit Dukes Creek Falls at 1699 Richard Russell Hwy in Helen too!
- Park: +1 (706) 878-3087
- Address: 61 Tsalaki Trail, Helen, GA
20 miles of hiking trails, paddling, picnicking, rock climbing (permit required), swimming, and tennis!
Pets are not allowed on the gorge floor, sliding rock trail, or on the Hurricane Falls staircase to the suspension bridge. Leashed pets are welcome on rim trails.
Watch kayakers test their skills against the scheduled whitewater releases – Tallulah Gorge is the only state park to feature whitewater kayaking!
- Park: +1 (706) 754-7981
- Address: 338 Jane Hurt Yarn Drive, Tallulah Falls, GA
Enjoy the natural mountain setting at the 1,000+ acre Unicoi State Park. Enjoy the refreshing water at the 53-acre Unicoi Lake, where you can swim at the beach or rent kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and pedal boats from Fridays – Sundays (seasonal). Lots of unique activities like archery, air guns, axe throwing, flyfishing classes, and orienteering, where you’ll learn to navigate through the woods with a compass and a map. Sign up for the Aerial Adventure and enjoy 19 zip lines and 9 suspension bridges! Ask about the Fishing Tackle Loaner Program to borrow rods, reels, and tackle box equipment for a day of fishing.
Celebrate annual events like the Polar Bear Plunge or the Fall Festival on the last weekend in October with hayrides, campfires, crafts, and a campground trunk-or-treat.
Pet-friendly park when pets are on a short, sturdy leash.
- Phone: +1 (800) 573-9659
- Address: 1788 Highway 356, Helen, GA
17 miles of hiking trails, mini-golf, and rentals of bikes, kayaks, paddleboards, pedal boats, and aquacycles! Weddings are allowed with park approval.
- Park: +1 (706) 745-2628
- Address: 405 Vogel State Park Road, Blairsville, GA
Popular North Georgia Lakes
Explore the lakes of North Georgia, including larger lakes like Lake Blue Ridge, Lake Nottely, Lake Chatuge, and Lake Burton. Get a sense of the summertime size of each lake with the North Georgia lakes map above. These North Georgia mountain lakes are summertime favorites and offer a beautiful space to enjoy both the water and the mountain views.
Stick to the simple joys of fishing, swimming, or boating, or try one of the more unique activities like flyboarding or riding a seaplane. Rent a boat for a fun excursion on the water, or rent a cabin WITH a boat for a vacation full of fun on the lake! A few of the North Georgia lakes are working lakes, and water levels drop drastically during the winter “drawdown” of water.
Blue Ridge LakeLake Blue Ridge has a winter drawdown each year, and visitors should expect water levels to drop ~22 feet from Summer to Winter.
The beautiful 2,775-acre Lake Burton has 62 miles of shoreline and is bordered on its West side by Moccasin Creek State Park. Visit the Lake Burton Civic Associate website for information about scheduled lake drawdowns.
- Marinas include Anchorage Boat Dock and LaPrade’s Marina
- Family Fishing Pond (8 a.m. – 6 p.m.) on Moccasin Creek (next to Lake Burton)
- Visit Jones Bridge Park on the Northside of the lake for great views (no lake access)
Chatuge LakeLake Chatuge has over 130 miles of shoreline with campgrounds, picnic tables, and other facilities. The lake is located within both Georgia and North Carolina and in years with normal rainfall, the water level in Chatuge Reservoir varies about 10 feet from Summer to Winter.
- Public boat ramps available
- Free admission to Towns County Beach with swimming beach
- Winter drawdown – water levels drop approx 20 feet from Summer to Winter
Lake RabunLake Rabun has a drawdown once every three years – the lake levels will be lowered in November and December 2020.
North Georgia’s World-Famous Hiking Trails
North Georgia is home to some of the best-known trails in the world. Check out these world-famous gems or seek out smaller hikes in the local area.
One of the longest trails in the world, this great hike challenges hundreds of hikers on hour-long, day-long, week-long, or a season-long trek!
This BMT is well known among hiking enthusiasts and traverses 80+ miles in Georgia and 200+ miles in Tennessee and North Carolina.
This is the longest trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and boasts glorious ridgeline views and countless crossings of mountain streams. One of the more well-known locations on the BMT is the Toccoa River Swinging Bridge, pictured above.
Visit the official Benton MacKaye Trail website for more information and look for the White Diamond blazes when hiking the Benton MacKaye Trail.
North Georgia’s Forests
Enjoy a forest bath in one of the beautiful spaces in North Georgia or the nearby Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina.
Brasstown Bald — Georgia’s tallest peak at 4,783′. Take a thrilling drive on OHV trails, have a picnic, pan for gold, or try lots of other fun activities.
Gardens in the Georgia Mountains
Escape to this North Georgia garden that’s open year-round and immerse yourself in the beauty of native plants and trees. Discover vibrant blooms, peaceful woodland paths, and a serene retreat that’s sure to captivate and inspire you.
Hamilton Rhododendron Gardens at Lake Chatuge
This local garden is open year-round and offers seasonal views of native plants and trees. The 20+ acre woodland garden is the largest collection of rhododendrons in the southeast – over 1,500 rhododendrons and azaleas! Bloom season begins in early April and continues well into May. Picnic tables are available on a first-come, first-serve basis (available under the Paris Pavilion). No pets or tobacco allowed.
- Phone: +1 (706) 970-0011
- Address: 96 Pavilion Road, Hiawassee, GA
- Website: hamiltongardens.org
- Facebook: Hamilton Rhododendron Gardens has 650+ likes
North Georgia Rivers
Simply take in the natural beauty or choose a favorite sport to enjoy your time on North Georgia’s rivers.
Fishing, Canoeing, Kayaking, Rafting, and Tubing or Floating
- Chattahoochee River
- Chattooga River
- Nantahala River
- Nottely River
- Toccoa River
- Tallulah River
Check out these articles for more ways to enjoy North Georgia: