Chattahoochee Bend State Park (Newnan) – This park is located in a graceful, quiet curve of the Chattahoochee River. Combine the Riverside and Bend trails to travel 11 miles, stopping to climb a small observation tower with river views. You’ll also cross grassy clearings with chances to spot deer and other wildlife. To truly appreciate the Chattahoochee River, sign up for one of the ranger-led trips that includes hiking upstream and paddling back downstream.
James H. “Sloppy” Floyd State Park (Summerville) –- This park’s Marble Mine Trail is one of Georgia’s hidden and historic gems. Travel less than a mile past the upper lake and ascend Taylor Ridge. You’ll be rewarded with views of a small waterfall cascading into a blue-green pool, as well as the entrance to an abandoned marble mine.
Laura S. Walker State Park (Waycross) – Just north of the mysterious Okefenokee Swamp, Laura S. Walker is filled with intriguing creatures and plants. The 2.5-mile Big Creek Nature Trail leads to an elevated boardwalk where you can scout a tributary of the Satilla River, looking for alligators, frogs and turtles.
Magnolia Springs State Park (Millen) -– Beautiful Magnolia Springs State Park is known for its crystal-clear springs flowing 7 million gallons per day. Take an easy walk on the half-mile Woodpecker Trail to a boardwalk over the beautiful blue spring. Keep an eye out for a variety of fish, Wood Storks, Pileated Woodpeckers, alligators and even “fuzzy” turtles with harmless algae growing on their shells. Continue on the Fort Lawton Trail to a museum featuring items excavated from the former Civil War prison.
Watson Mill Bridge State Park (Comer) -– Watson Mill Bridge is home to the longest covered bridge in Georgia, built in 1885. Beautiful, dense forest allows hikers, bikers and horseback riders to enjoy shade along several miles of trails. Try the 2.5-mile Powerhouse Ruins Loop or 1.5-mile Beaver Creek Loop.
Maps and details at GAStateParks.org