Lose yourself in Georgia’s natural wonders

From the mountains of the north to the rivers of the west and the pristine Golden Isles, here’s a full guide to exploring the wild corners of the Peach state…

Jason Frye
30 June 2021
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Discover Georgia

In the natural playground of the USA’s Southeast, Georgia is a must for outdoor lovers. With four wheels and a sense of adventure, you’re free to explore the state in its entirety. Drive between its regions to discover Georgia’s diverse landscapes, whether the  mountains of the north, the fast-flowing rivers of the west or the pristine Golden Isles…

North Georgia

Anna Ruby Falls (Explore Georgia)

Wine tastings, waterfalls, and a Bavarian village tucked into the Appalachian foothills are just a few of the treats North Georgia holds. Make Amicalola Falls State Park your first stop. Home to the 222m Amicalola Falls – the tallest in the state – and the 12km ‘approach hike’ to the storied Appalachian Trail, it’s as big on scenery as it is on thrills. Sharpen your survival skills, toss a tomahawk (indigenous axe) and strap in for a zipline course that’ll have you thinking you’re part-flying squirrel, all without leaving this 3.5 sq km-park.

At Mulberry Gap, the Mountain Biking Capital of Georgia, you can race down single-track trails in the Chattahoochee National Forest to get your adrenaline pumping. The forest is home to over 1,000km of trails, so you’ll be spoilt for choice. Stand atop the 16m-high Glassy Mountain Fire Tower to get a sense of the true vastness of the forest.

In nearby Blue Ridge (around half an hour’s drive from Mulberry Gap), hit the Trout Adventure Trail for a DIY angling outing or hire a local guide to teach you to fly fish.

Where to stay

North Georgia Glamping
Spend the night in an icon of American road tripping: a vintage Airstream. You can also stay in a creek-side cabin or opt for a geodesic dome where you can stargaze from the decking.
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Julep Farms
Located in a valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a stay at Julep Farms allows you to spend time in nature on a working farm and enjoy the fresh, local food at the on-site kitchen.
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Riding the rapids in Columbus (Explore Georgia)

Central and Southern Georgia

Jekyll Island’s Driftwood Beach (Explore Georgia)

There are many surprises to uncover in Central and Southern Georgia, such as blackwater swamps including the Okefenokee Swamp, craggy canyons and imposing stony mountains.

In Columbus, cityscape meets whitewater as the Chattahoochee River delivers thrills on the edge of downtown. Whitewater Express paddles some of the south-east’s most intimidating rapids and at Cut Bait – the Class V showpiece of this river run – you’ll have a crowd on the banks cheering you on.

Spend a long afternoon kayaking down the Flint River in Albany, ending with a walk at Radium Springs Gardens to gaze in awe as some 70,000 gallons of hot water is pumped from an underground cave every minute.

From there, it’s around a 90 minute drive northwest to Providence Canyon State Park, Georgia’s own mini version of the Grand Canyon. Hike the sandy trails to discover gaping gullies up to 45m deep. The four kilometre Canyon Loop Trail takes you past nine canyons, or try the longer 11km Backcountry Trail. When darkness falls, set up camp, sit outside your tent, and watch the sky light up with infinite stars.

Where to stay

White Oak Pastures
Located in the town of Bluffton, rent a cosy cabin on this working farm to learn about White Oak Pastures’ sustainable farming methods and taste their home-grown produce.
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Georgia’s Coast

Here, river mouths open wide and deltas meet barrier islands to create a landscape for nature lovers, adventure seekers, and wildlife watchers alike.

Ghosts of a maritime forest stand on Jekyll Island’s Driftwood Beach drawing photographers and artists. Sand-blasted and sun-bleached, the trunks and branches range from weathered grey to bone white, making for a hauntingly memorable stop. 

Wild horses roam Cumberland Island National Seashore; descended from horses that once worked on Spanish missions, coastal plantations, and estates. They can often be seen grazing in the salt marsh and dunes and on the lawns of historic sites.

Over at Ossabaw Island, wildlife lovers should visit in early to mid-summer to see loggerhead turtles nesting; in late summer, the nests appear to boil as hundreds of hatchlings race for the sea.

Sapelo Island’s Hog Hammock gives you a chance to meet the Gullah-Geechee community, descendants of enslaved West Africans. Listen to their stories and learn how they have influenced life here by sampling dishes that combine West African flavours and Southern ingredients. You’re bound to leave feeling full but wanting more…

Where to stay

The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island
This 44 sq km island welcomes only 32 guests and is accessible by boat only, so you’ll have 11km of beaches and all those moss-draped live oaks virtually to yourself.
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Little Raccoon Key
Ferry over from Jekyll Island to go glamping in safari tents in a place where the neighbours are pods of dolphins, migrating birds, and tens of thousands of years of Timucua and Guale native history.
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For more Georgia travel information and inspiration, head over to the official Georgia website. 

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Main image: Lake Blue Ridge (Explore Georgia)

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