Caves and Canyons to Explore at Georgia’s State Parks

Wednesday, December 21, 2016 - 09:00

Thousand-foot deep canyons, sandstone cliffs, wild caves, waterfalls, cascading creeks, dense woodland and abundant wildlife, Georgia’s State Parks are scenic havens for outdoor recreation.

Explore these four caves and canyons at Georgia State Parks across the state.

Cloudland Canyon State Park, Rising Fawn

Anyone who has visited Cloudland Canyon State Park can attest to its beauty. The park’s location atop Lookout Mountain on the Cumberland Plateau differs in elevation from 1,800 feet to 800 feet deep in Sitton Gulch Creek. The most popular hiking paths showcase the canyon’s beauty, but no matter where you explore, 30-plus miles of trails extend out of the park via the Cloudland Connector Trail to connect to Five Points Recreation Area, a network of mountain bike trails. Beginners who want to hike a short jaunt can take the Overlook Trail or West Rim Loop Trail. For a strenuous adventure, delve into the canyon on the Waterfalls Trail, going down 600 steps to the park’s two waterfalls that cascade across layers of sandstone.

Providence Canyon State Outdoor Recreation Area, Lumpkin

Known as Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon,” massive gullies as deep as 150 feet make up Providence Canyon. These were caused simply by poor farming practices during the 1800s, yet today they make some of the prettiest photographs with pink, orange, red and purple hues. In the more remote canyons, hikers often find a thin layer of water along the trail, an indication of the water table below the park’s surface. Hikers have two options to explore the canyons. The 2.5-mile white-blazed Canyon Loop Trail circles nine of the canyons, giving an overview of the geology. The red-blaze 7-mile Backcountry Trail leads into the forested area that winds through River Birch. This trail is suited for experienced hikers, as the area is rugged, ascending a few steep grades.

Tallulah Gorge State Park, Tallulah Falls

Tallulah Gorge is two miles long and nearly 1,000 feet deep, carved in a complex formation by the Tallulah River. During bi-annual whitewater releases in April and November, water thunders through the gorge at 500 cubic feet per second as kayakers challenge their skills by taking on the Class IV and V rapids. Hike the, family-friendly North and South Rim Trails around the edge of the gorge. These offer several overlooks where hikers can watch the rushing water from above. For a challenge, obtain a permit to hike the rugged terrain on the 2.5 mile Gorge Floor Trail. The hike starts down a series of 600 metal steps before crossing a suspension bridge to the slippery rocks at the bottom of the gorge. Hikers are rewarded with up-close views of Hurricane Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, two of the gorge’s spectacular waterfalls. Pets are not allowed on trails into the gorge.

Georgia Girl Guides Caving Tours, Cloudland Canyon State Park
Want to explore Georgia State Park’s only cave? Go underground, get muddy and experience Cloudland Canyon’s wild cave. Visitors can only experience the cave by a guided tour from Georgia Girl Guides. Crawl through the dark tunnels, squeeze around challenging limestone formations and learn more about the geology of the cave. Tours last anywhere from one to four hours. All visitors will gear up with helmets and flashlights before crawling into the muddy, dark caves. Expect to get dirty and have a lot of fun!

*Caving tours available during the months of April, June, July, September, and October only.