- Rose Kennedy
Thrill seekers, you can stay in the state and still get a premium adrenaline fix.
Georgia state parks offer jaw-dropping, adrenaline-pumping thrills within hours of Atlanta, some practically next door.
Here are six state park attractions for the most adventurous:
At the base of Blood Mountain in the Chattahoochee National Forest is a loop that beckons the toughest trail for hikers who also have a taste for mountain scenery. The 13-mile Coosa Backcountry Trail at Vogel State Park includes around 2,100 feet of elevation gain and two mountain climbs over Coosa Bald and Slaughter Mountain that are tough stuff. Throughout, expect creek crossing, rock hopping and running through lush, thick forest.
Tamer, but still really fun: Shopping and small-town strolling are nearby at the Alpine Village at Helen.
How do you make it 1,000 feet down at Tallulah Gorge? Try tackling 600 metal steps and crossing a suspension bridge that sways 80 feet above the ground. On the gorge floor, the rock-hopping fun begins and you may even spy a hidden gorge floor cave before completing the 2.5 mile round trip. This one takes a little prep work, though. Free permits are required to access the gorge floor and they're limited to 100 per day.
Tamer, but still really fun: During Daylight Saving months, ranger led sunset hikes take you to the park’s highest point to watch the sun set over the gorge.
Hey, Atlanta daredevils on tight schedules, this one's for you. This adventure is happening just 15 minutes away from the ATL. Panola Mountain State Park's intro program will show you how to use a rope and harness safely to reach (gulp) 30 feet off the ground into a Southern Red Oak more than two centuries old. Climb, swing and scramble at events hosted throughout the year at Panola Mountain.
Tamer, but still really fun: Panola also has a playground and interpretive programs.
What a rush! You'll zip through the forest air and test your balance on suspension bridges throughout the course. Your heart will pound as you swoop across valleys alongside sweeping mountain views. Hiking adventures and a splendid lodge make this one for the adrenaline-junkie's bucket list.
Tamer, but still really fun: Check out the Birds of Prey adventure in the company of expert handlers.
This remote park is the gateway to the Okefenokee Swamp, one of Georgia's seven natural wonders. A night paddle by moonlight is both an eerie and beautiful way to drink in the scenery and the experience is only allowed as part of park-ranger guided trips. Spanish moss-laced trees reflect off the black swamp waters, cypress knees rise from the water's surface and that glow you spot with a flashlight may be alligator eyes. Or, who knows?
Tamer, but still really fun: Stephen C. Foster is quite close to The Lakes Golf Course at Laura S. Walker, designed by Steve Burnes and featuring three large lakes and native sand.
The G3 Adventures caving tour leads you underground to a wild cave excursion that can last one to four hours. Dark tunnels, limestone formations and instructions on pushing, pulling and squeezing your body through rock passageways included, along with unlimited mud. Some age restrictions apply.
Tamer, but still really fun: Cloudland Canyon also offers disc golf for $4, with annual passes available