The Best Georgia State Parks North of Atlanta

If your family loves adventure and the great outdoors, add these 6 Georgia State Parks North of Atlanta to your bucket list.

Just a couple of hours (or less) north of Atlanta, you can escape the big city for a day or weekend in the hilly, mountainous region of North Georgia. Surrounded by forests, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, and historic sites, this area boasts some amazing state parks that are perfect for family hiking, cycling, fishing, and swimming—all for just a $5 daily parking pass. And if you have the budget to throw at extra outdoor activities, you can let your kids try ziplining, paddleboarding, kayaking, and more.

So pack your leashed dog, your hiking shoes, and your adventurous attitude as you experience the beauty and adventure at these 6 Georgia State Parks north of Atlanta. 

cloudland canyon, georgia state parkCloudland Canyon State Park

Address: 122 Cloudland Canyon Park Road, Rising Fawn, GA 30738
Drive time from Atlanta: 2 hours 10 minutes

Located in the extreme northwest corner of Georgia on the edge of Lookout Mountain, Cloudland Canyon State Park is a sight to behold during any season. Gawk at the thousand-foot-deep canyons, hike the 64 miles of scenic trails and make your way down the hundreds of stairs to the bottom of the canyon to see waterfalls up close. Between disc golf, mountain biking, and fishing, there will be plenty to keep an adventurous family busy.

Sights to see nearby:

Unicoi State ParkUnicoi State Park

Address: 1788 GA-356, Helen, GA 30545
Drive time from Atlanta: 1 hour 50 minutes

Located just north of downtown Helen, the 1,050-acre Unicoi State Park in Northeast Georgia offers a 5.2-mile out-and-back Helen to Unicoi Trail. Hike half the trail, stop for a tasty German lunch in Alpine Helen, then hike back to the state park to enjoy all its outdoor activities. Swim at the beach of the 53-acre Unicoi Lake or hike the 2.2-mile loop around the lake. Enjoy the water by renting a kayak, canoe, paddleboard, or pedal boat. And if heights don’t scare you, zipline around the park to enjoy amazing views.

Sights to see nearby:

vogel state park lakeVogel State Park

Address: 405 Vogel State Park Road, Blairsville, GA 30512
Drive time from Atlanta: 1 hour 50 minutes

Another scenic stop in Northeast Georgia, the 233-acre Vogel State Park is nestled at the base of Blood Mountain, most well-known as the start of the Appalachian Trail. Enjoy summer hiking, swimming, paddle boarding, pedal boating, aqua cycling, and kayaking at Vogel’s Lake Trahlyta. The easy 1-mile loop around the lake gives way to the scenic Trahlyta waterfall at the mid-way point. Also, enjoy two playgrounds and mini-golf courses at the park. And for kids who love a challenge, try the 4.1-mile Bear Hair Gap Trail, which offers amazing aerial views of the lake as well as fall foliage.

Sights to see nearby:

Tallulah Gorge Georgia State ParkTallulah Gorge State Park

Address: 338 Jane Hurt Yarn Road, Tallulah Falls, GA 30573
Drive time from Atlanta: 1 hour 35 minutes

Just a few miles from the South Carolina border, Tallulah Gorge State Park boasts spectacular views of the 1,000-foot gorge that spans 2 miles in length. Hike the loop around the gorge, traversing a suspension bridge 80 feet above the water before tackling flight after flight of steps to view amazing lookout points at the top of the gorge. Grab a gorge floor permit to access the rocky descent to Sliding Rock—a fun stop for summer swimmers. Also, enjoy the educational displays in the interpretive center and pack a picnic for the many tables at the top of the 2,689-acre park.

Sights to see nearby:

red top mountain state parkRed Top Mountain State Park

Address: 50 Lodge Road SE, Acworth, GA 30102
Drive time from Atlanta: 45 minutes

Just a short drive northwest of Atlanta, Red Top Mountain State Park is marked by the 12,000-acre Allatoona Lake, with many visitors swimming, boating, fishing, and picnicking near the shore. Hikers and bikers can enjoy more than 15 miles of trails around the 1,776-acre park. Iron Hill Trail is a favorite for mountain bikers, hikers, and even moms pushing jogging strollers.

Sights to see nearby:

amicalola falls georgia state parkAmicalola Falls State Park

Address: 418 Amicalola Falls State Park Road, Dawsonville, GA 30534
Drive time from Atlanta: 1 hour 20 minutes

Directly north of downtown Atlanta, you’ll find Amicalola Falls State Park, well-known for its magnificent 729-foot waterfall that ranks the highest in Georgia. Hike the 2.1 miles to the top, but be sure to wear your walking shoes as you make your way up the 604 steps to the viewing platform. The 829-acre state park also offers other fun activities, including zip-lining courses, and 3-D archery, and on weekend mornings, you can meet one of the Birds of Prey or even a reptile.

Sights to see nearby:

Looking for more outdoor adventures? Check out our list of North Georgia swimming holes that will wow your kids this summer.

The Best Georgia State Parks North of Atlanta

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As a Georgia native and Atlanta area resident for 12 years, Haley, her husband, and their four kids recently relocated to the foothills of the Northeast Georgia mountains. They now embrace small-town life with the great outdoors at their fingertips, while maximizing their two-acre homestead that includes two dozen chickens, a hive of honeybees, a muscadine vineyard, and a berry patch. Day to day, Haley helps her husband with his small business, manages their on-site Airbnb rental, and wears many (often outlandish) hats for their four kids. But when she has any extra time, you'll most likely find her cooking in the kitchen, being active outdoors with her family, or blogging at hobsonhomestead.com.