Nestled two hours from Atlanta and just under one hour from Columbus in the small town of Lumpkin, Georgia, Providence Canyon State Park is known as "Georgia's Little Grand Canyon." You will simply be amazed at the year-round beauty of one of the Peach State's most beautiful natural wonders.
Today, visitors from all over the region come to witness the extraordinary site, that was coincidentally caused by poor farming practices in the 1800s. The canyon walls are as tall as 150 feet and make for some very eye-catching photos, especially in the late summer when the rare Plumleaf Azalea is in full bloom.
Activities at the "Little Grand Canyon"
Providence Canyon State Outdoor Recreation Area features over a thousand acres of Mvskoke (Muscogee/Creek) tribal lands that are now one of Georgia's most visited state parks. This region boasts ginormous gullies that create what the state calls the "Little Grand Canyon."
Nature lovers partake in a wide variety of activities when visiting this Georgia State Park, including exploring the many hiking trails, joining the Canyon Climbers Club, staying overnight along the backcountry trail, and discovering the park's historic sites.
Hikers can enjoy over 10 miles of trails to explore by foot. All of the trails at this quiet park start at the visitor's center. A way to see all of the canyons is to take the Canyon Loop Trail (2.5 miles, rated easy to moderate) by first following the creekbeds through canyons 1-5, turning left into the second creek, and then reaching canyons 6-9. You can either go back at the end of the canyon floor, or you can continue the Canyon Loop Trail alongside the fence line on the rim trail for amazing views of the canyons.
Please note that the canyon walls and canyon floors are very fragile and there is no climbing allowed from the floor or rim; The canyon soils can be very muddy and a little dangerous due to the underground water table, so wear appropriate footwear and stay in the middle of the creekbeds.
Another option for hikers or campers is to hike the extremely rugged and challenging 7-mile Backcountry Trail loop. This trail leads to the forested area, but instead of turning left into the canyons, you turn right in the creek bed. After approximately two miles, the trail starts to dramatically incline to follow an old logging road. This is where backpackers will find the six Backcountry Campsites. To continue on, this trail eventually meets back up with the loop trail through the picnic area in the day-use area and back to the visitor center.
Campsites & Picnic Areas
For additional places to relax and extend your stay at Providence Canyon, you can rent one of the two picnic shelters or one of the three Pioneer Campsites. Since this park is on the smaller side and campsites are limited, you can camp or rent lodging nearby at Florence Marina State Park on 45,000-acre Lake Walter F. George.
Full Bloom at Providence Canyon State Park
The still-eroding massive gullies boast incredible colors, caused by the mineral-rich soil, including red (iron), white (kaolin), and purple (manganese). To see even more of a spectacular site, visit the park in July and August when the Plumleaf Azalea (only found in this region) is in its full bloom along with other beautiful wildflowers.
To visit Georgia's "Little Grand Canyon" in Stewart County there is some key information you need to know. You can always call the park's phone number, (229) 838-6870, to inquire about capacity, reservations, and the best day to visit. The parking fee is only $5 per car, making this one of the most affordable and family-friendly trips to take in the state of Georgia.
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This article was originally published March 31, 2021.