Georgia - Nature and Scientific Wonders

Georgia - Nature and Scientific Wonders

smithsonian.com

Whether you dream of hiking up a mountain or hang gliding off one, kayaking down a meandering river or rafting a Class V rapid, Georgia’s diverse landscape delivers some of the most exciting outdoor adventures in the country. Your visit to the state will not only refresh your spirit, it will supply an adrenaline rush you won’t soon forget.

Coastal Beauty
You can experience natural wonders and ancient cultures by foot or boat along the Georgia coast. Paddlers can explore ancient Cypress trees and see rare and endangered wildlife along the inland waterways on the Altamaha and Ogeechee Rivers and the still, black waters of the Okefenokee Swamp. The Intercoastal Waterway provides some of the richest fishing in the Atlantic Ocean and offers opportunities for exciting sea kayaking.

Mountain Highs
Visitors seeking a chance to commune with nature will find uncommon experiences in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in north Georgia. In Dawsonville, Amicalola Falls is home to both the tallest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River and the challenging, eight-mile hiking approach to Springer Mountain, the southern end of the 2,175-mile Appalachian Trail. One of the most spectacular canyons in the eastern United States, Tallulah Gorge, is two miles long and nearly 1,000 feet deep. Hikers travel in both directions - down to the gorge floor and up along a series of rim trails to scenic overlooks. For a truly spectacular view, you can challenge your endurance to and from the new suspension bridge over Hurricane Falls, the tallest of the gorge’s waterfalls, or for the experienced rock climber, test your skill on the rock faces of the gorge.

Scenic Rivers
Adventurers of all ages can brave one of the longest free-flowing rivers in the Southeast, the Chattooga River in northeast Georgia. The Chattooga, named to the prestigious Wild and Scenic River System, is still relatively untouched and home to some of the most difficult and technical Class III, IV and V whitewater rapids in the region. If you have loftier ambitions, visit Lookout Mountain Flight Park, which teaches and certifies more hang glider pilots than any other school in the country and features the easiest, safest and most-used launch in the world, and has more than 20 miles of scenic ridge.

Southern Landscape
Teeming with lakes and rivers for fishing, boating and nature watching, this central region of Georgia delivers exceptional water sports opportunities. The Altamaha River is home to more than 130 rare and endangered species and was named "One of America’s Last Great Places" by the Nature Conservancy. The river flows 137 miles from its origin to the delta of the Atlantic coast without breaks, making it the ideal location for kayaking.

You can find more than just water sports in a visit to Georgia’s Lake Country. Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair features a total of 171 holes of diverse, scenic championship golf, a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities or just relax at the luxury spa at The Ritz Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation. Northeast Georgia’s Lincoln County is home to Clarks Hill Lake, the largest Corps of Engineers project east of the Mississippi, which features more than 1,200 miles of shoreline and is an outdoor lover’s paradise.

Breathtaking views are at every turn at Providence Canyon State Conservation Park in Lumpkin, Georgia’s "Little Grand Canyon." The rare Plumleaf Azalea and other wildflowers, as well as the pink, orange, red and purple hues of the soft canyon soil, make a beautiful natural painting at the unique park. Hiking along the rim trail and backpacking through backcountry trails offer one-of-a-kind experiences.

Urban Adventure
In the urban environment of Atlanta, you might be surprised to find a variety of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Centennial Olympic Park, a 21-acre legacy from the 1996 Olympic Games in downtown Atlanta, and Piedmont Park, a 185-acre green space in the heart of midtown Atlanta, offer space for walking, jogging, team sports and other activities. The PATH Foundation has created more than 60 miles of paved trails throughout the city for running, cycling, walking or blading. The PATH also connects to the Silver Comet Trail, a 37-mile paved route from Smyrna to Rockmart that, when completed, will reach the Georgia-Alabama state line.

Hiking trails and picnic areas dot the 48-mile Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. Located in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, you can hike more than 50 miles of trails, waterfalls and trout streams just 25 minutes north of the city. More than 2,000 acres of peaceful wilderness are nestled west of the city at Sweetwater Creek State Park. Hikers can follow a wooded trail along the free-flowing stream to the ruins of the New Manchester Manufacturing Company, or to the top of the rocky bluff for breathtaking views of the shoals.

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