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!

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’s Forests

Enjoy a forest bath in one of the beautiful spaces in north Georgia or the nearby Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina.

 

Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest

View from Georgia's highest peak at Brasstown Bald

View from Georgia’s highest peak at Brasstown Bald [photo ExploreGeorgia]

Enjoy stunning views after a hike to the top of 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.

 

North Georgia’s World Famous Hiking Trails

 

Appalachian Trail

Be ready for the weather on the Appalachian Trail in North Georgia

Be ready for the weather on the Appalachian Trail in North Georgia

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!

 

Benton MacKaye Trail

This BMT is well known among hiking enthusiasts and traverses 80+ miles in Georgia and 200+ miles in Tennessee and North Carolina. This trail is the longest in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and boasts glorious ridgeline views and countless crossings of mountain streams.

 

North Georgia State Parks

North Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites Map

Northern Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites Map

Visiting the Georgia state parks requires a Georgia State Park ParkPass (Single Visit $5 / Annual $50). Georgia residents can check with their local library for loaner ParkPasses that can be checked out like books.

 

Amicalola Falls State Park 

Majestic Amicalola Falls in North Georgia

Majestic Amicalola Falls in North Georgia [photo ExploreGeorgia]

The 829-acre Amicalola Falls State Park boasts Georgia’s tallest waterfall — the 729-foot tall Amicalola Falls. Try new activities like ziplining, trout fishing, guided hikes, 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

 

Black Rock Mountain State Park

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

 

Fort Mountain State Park 

Beautiful views at Fort Mountain State Park in North Georgia

Beautiful views at Fort Mountain State Park in North Georgia [photo ExploreGeorgia]

Explore the 4,000+ acres park and the mysterious, ancient 855-foot-long wall that is thought to have possibly been built by early Indians. Beautiful trails wind through hardwood forest and blueberry thickets and during the summer visitors can cool off at the lakeside swimming beach.

Additional activities include biking, fishing, geocaching, horseback riding, mini-golf, and rentals of Jon boats, kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, aquacycles, and pedal boats.

  • Phone: +1 (706) 422-1932
  • Address: 181 Fort Mountain Park Road, Chatsworth, GA

 

Moccasin Creek State Park 

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

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 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

 

Tallulah Gorge State Park

Suspension Bridge at Tallulah Gorge State Park in Georgia

Suspension Bridge at Tallulah Gorge State Park in Georgia [photo ExploreGeorgia]

Tallulah Gorge is 2 miles long and nearly 1,000 feet deep. Visitors can hike rim trails to overlooks or obtain a permit to hike to the gorge floor (only 100 are available per day and they are not available during water releases). A suspension bridge sways 80 feet above the rocky bottom, providing spectacular views of the river and waterfalls. Events and activities at the park include archery, biking, fishing, geocaching, 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 whitewater releases in November 2021 (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

 

Unicoi State Park

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.

Visit the nearby waterfalls of Raven Cliff Falls, High Shoals Falls, and Anna Ruby Falls.

  • Phone: +1 (800) 573-9659
  • Address: 1788 Highway 356, Helen, GA

 

Vogel State Park

Boating at Vogel State Park in North Georgia

Boating at Vogel State Park in North Georgia [photo ExploreGeorgia]

This 233-acre park includes a 22-acre lake and plenty of ways to enjoy the mountain weather. Reserve a cottage, campsite, campground, or shelter for your next event. Swim at the sand beach during warm months and enjoy fishing, geocaching, 17 miles of hiking trails, mini-golf, and rentals of bikes, kayaks, paddleboards, pedal boats, and aquacycles!

Visit the nearby waterfalls of Wolf Creek Falls, Helton Creek Falls, and Desoto Falls.

Weddings are allowed with park approval.

  • Park: +1 (706) 745-2628
  • Address: 405 Vogel State Park Road, Blairsville, GA

 

Gardens in the Georgia Mountains

 

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). Open daily from 8:00 a.m. through 8:00 p.m. and only $5 / person or $10 / family. No pets or tobacco allowed.

 

Popular North Georgia Lakes

There are beautiful lakes to enjoy in the North Georgia mountains including larger lakes like Lake Blue Ridge, Lake Nottely, and Lake Chatuge, and quieter lakes like Lake Burton and Lake Rabun. A few of the lakes are “working lakes” and have a major drawdown of water in the winter.

Popular Lakes in the North Georgia Mountains

Popular Lakes in the North Georgia Mountains for boating, swimming, and fishing

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!

 

Blue Ridge Lake

Paddleboarding on Blue Ridge Lake in North Georgia

Paddleboarding on Blue Ridge Lake in North Georgia [photo ExploreGeorgia]

  • Winter drawdown – water levels drop approx 22 feet from Summer to Winter

 

Lake Burton

The glamorous 2,775 acre Lake Burton has 62 miles of shoreline and is bordered on its West side by Moccasin Creek State Park.

  • 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 Lake

Lake Chatuge in North Georgia

Fall colors on Lake Chatuge in North Georgia [photo ExploreGeorgia]

Lake 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.

 

Lake Nottely

  • Winter drawdown – water levels drop approx 20 feet from Summer to Winter

 

Lake Rabun

Boat on Lake Rabun GA at Sunset

Boat on Lake Rabun GA at Sunset [photo ExploreGeorgia]

  • Drawdown once every 3 years – November and December 2020 lake levels will be lowered

 

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

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Check out these articles for more ways to enjoy North Georgia:

6 Responses

  1. Sharon says:

    Looking at the images you shared, I’m already astonished by the natural beauty. If I’m there, what else can I say? I can sit by the lake the whole day. I may not be the adventurous type of person going whitewater kayaking, paddleboarding seemed more relaxing. Thanks for recommending these places. Absolutely amazing.

    • Alyce says:

      Hi Sharon, I like that there are fun activities outside for both athletic novices and sporting experts. Paddleboarding is definitely a fun way to enjoy a nice day on the water!

  2. gontse mogana says:

    I’m not a hiking person but I do it once in a while as something different to add on to my activities. This article is helpful for hikers hopefully one day I’ll be able to visit the United states of America and look into hiking all those beautiful breathtaking places you have mentioned on your article.  Definitely getting this on to my bucket list. 

    • Alyce says:

      Some of these trails, like the 2,000+ mile Appalachian Trail, are definitely for “hiking people”. Fortunately, there are lots of other great ways to enjoy nature without having to go too deep into the woods. I’m glad to hear you found something that looks fun enough to add to your bucket list!

  3. Sunny says:

    Wow! Georga seems to be a dream place to go. I have been to different places in the US but have never been to Georgia. I heard many nice things and met some people from Georga though. Look at this variety of parks and lakes. I am amazed! And 6 rivers! Wow! Thank you for this guide, Georga is marked on my travel list! 

    • Alyce says:

      Hi Sunny, The entire state of Georgia has a variety of great things to offer, but I’m definitely partial to the scenic natural beauty of the blue ridge mountains in North Georgia. I hope you are able to visit soon!

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