Providence Canyon State Park – Lumpkin, Georgia

Providence Canyon State Park - Top of Canyon 1Trail: Canyon Rim Trail

Directions: From downtown Atlanta, take I-85 South to I-185 South.  Take Exit 1A off of I-185, South 27/ GA-1 South turn right onto GA-39-C.  The park entrance is on the left about six miles down GA-39-C.

General Information:

Terrain: This is an easy trail with short steep areas where you traverse down into the canyon or up out of the canyon.

Distance: Approximately 3 miles.  It is a loop trail.  The trailhead is behind the interpretive center building.  You can also access the trail from the picnic area.

Family Oriented: Yes, great trail for kids.

Dogs Allowed: Yes, must be on a leash.  You must clean up after your animal.

Hiking Fees: There is a $5.00 state park fee.  You can also purchase an annual Georgia State Park Pass for $50.00.  There are other fees for overnight camping on the backcountry trail.

About: This Park is probably one of the most unique in Georgia.  It is nicknamed “Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon”.   The canyon was created by bad farming practices during the 1800s.  The canyon walls are as high as 150 feet in some areas.  The park is home to the rare Plumleaf Azalea a variety that blooms in July and August.  Other plant typeProvidence Canyon State Park - Canyon Floor 2s include; Rhododendrons, varieties of pines and oak cedar, dogwood and hickory.

The canyon has multiple layers and colors ranging from “Georgia red clay” to yellows, oranges, pinks, purples and white.

The bottom of the canyon is near the water table where there is almost always a constant thin layer of water flowing.

There are two major trails at the park, the rim trail is 3 miles and travels around the rim of the canyon as well as down into the mouth.  The other trail, the backcountry trail, is 7 miles and has campsites available.

The Hike: We decided to avoid the north Georgia crowds during the busy leaf changing season and head south for a unique hiking experience.  The drive is about two and a half hours south of Atlanta, 40 miles south of Columbus.  We got there early to beat the heat. (even though it was late October, it was supposed to get into the middle 80s that day).   The day was beautiful with a blue sky and just a few high clouds.

Providence Canyon State Park - Canyon Floor 1We went to the trailhead behind the interpretive center and headed down into the canyon.  (you can walk either direction here, but we didn’t know how much time we would spend in the canyon.  It is a slightly steep walk down to the canyon floor, but not terrible.  In no time, we were at the bottom.  Upon reaching the bottom, you can continue across a sandy wet area and follow the rim trail, turn right and go on the backcountry trail or turn left and head up into one of the fingers into the canyon.  There are actually multiple fingers up into the canyon.  There are a total of nine.  In this area are fingers 1-5.  They are divided by numbers; 1-3 are to the far left, 4 and 5 to the right of them.  All of the trails in the park are well marked and taken care of.   At the bottom of the canyon there is a thin layer of running water with a sandy bottom.  If you have children, please make a note that they will probably want to play in the water.  You have to walk through it while walking on the canyon floor.  I highly recommend you walk up into the fingers.  The eroded formations are fascinating.  You get a real sense for how deep the canyon is.  Also, if you go during the spring, summer or fall, a lot of the canyon is hidden by foliage at some of the overlooks on the rim.

We continued onto the rim trail, blazed in white.  It goes back up and over a short ridge line before continuing back down.  At the bottom of this area, you can again turn to the left and go along the canyon floor to fingers 6-9.  This is another great area to explore the base of the canyon.

Providence Canyon State Park - Old CarGetting back on the rim trail, it heads up to true rim and away from the edge of the canyon.  There are a lot of trees and brush to help shade the trail.  When the trail meets back up with the canyon walls, you see some old rusted vehicles along the side of the trail.  There was a homestead at the edge of the canyon and the owner’s abandoned these cars.  If the park service were to try and take them out, it would cause a lot of damage to the eco-system, so they have decided to leave them there and let the local animals take advantage of them.  Once back at the canyon rim, there are many overlooks.  Some of them had trees that were blocking the view of the canyon below, although I could see that the view would be very good during the winter months.

The trail opens up to a field, but continues along the rim.  There are better viewing areas at this part.  The viewing platforms seem to be in better shape as well.  Continuing on, we headed back to the interpretive center and off the trail.  If you hiked the entire trail and all of the fingers, it would be about 3 hours, maybe a little more with kids.

Providence Canyon State Park - Top of Canyon 2Tips:

  • If hiking during the summer, spring or fall months, arrive early to take advantage of the sun being lower in the sky.  There is plenty of shade down in the canyon.
  • If you bring your dog, make sure that you have a towel back at the car to wipe off their feet.  The trail is very sandy at the base of the canyon, not to mention wet.
  • Climbing up or down the sides of the canyon is illegal.
  • There is fencing on the rim portion of the trail, but at this time, some of it is in need of repair.  If hiking with small children, make sure they don’t lean or climb on the fence.

Hoping your next hike is Relaxing, Safe and Inspiring,

Russell

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