Looking for a spot relatively nearby to enjoy the sights and sounds of Georgia's wilderness? Check out these five hiking destinations to spend your sunny weekend day — and don't forget to pack food and water!
Located about an hour away from Athens near Helen, Georgia, this 4.4-mile trail is a great option to get away for the day. Visitors are able to park in a gravel lot at the foot of the mountain, and directions along the trail are clear and well-worn. It is a fairly steep uphill climb — you will most likely feel it in your legs the next day. There is a partial summit at 1.85 miles into the trail that can be accessed by walking into a clearing on the right-hand side. It cannot compare to the actual summit at which there are many points along which to view the north Georgia countryside from a spectacular vantage point. After descending the mountain, make a pit stop at Yonah Burger for a post-hike meal.
Black Rock Mountain State Park
Black Mountain in Clayton, Georgia, is a great place to go for a rigorous yet peaceful hike in through the Georgia woods. The only overlooks are off to the side of the long, winding road leading up to the welcome center and at the welcome center itself, where you can park for $5. There are multiple trails to choose from, each with different lengths and difficulties. The longest loop, named the James E. Edmonds Backcountry Trail, is 7.2 miles of up and down through the trees and is rated as difficult to strenuous. End your day in the woods by shopping in a mountain-themed store at the welcome center.
Tallulah Gorge State Park
At just over an hour away from Athens, this family-friendly park is a great place to spend a weekend day. The trail is extremely well-marked and there are built-in summits along the way to enjoy the forest and waterfall. Tallulah is more of a place to meander than to seriously hike, but be prepared to climb a lot of stairs. If you are looking to see more than just top-down views, you have the option to obtain a free pass to hike down to the bottom of the gorge to look up at the breathtaking waterfall.
Fort Yargo State Park
Located right down the road in Winder, Georgia, this state park features 20.5 miles of trails to choose from for hikers and bikers alike. There is no mountain to summit, but it is a great place to spend the day surrounded by nature. Catch sneak peeks of Lake Yargo along your hike through the decently well-marked trails and bring a suit to jump in the water at the swimming beach when you’re finished.
Raven Cliff Falls
Right outside of Helen, Georgia, Raven Cliff Falls is a fun 4.9-mile out-and-back trail filled with bubbling creeks and beautiful waterfalls along the way. A quarter of a mile into the trail is an option to veer off to the right toward a small swimming hole — a perfect place to bring your adventurous pup. Continue along the wildflower and moss-filled trail for another two miles until you reach the base of the gorgeous Raven Cliff Falls.