Story by ADRIANNE MURCHISON
As the leaves turn, there’s beautiful foliage to see at the likes of Piedmont Park and the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. Less than a few hours drive down the road are more parks with spectacular colors. We have some ideas for your weekend day trips.
Sweetwater Creek State Park
In addition to a leisurely daytime exploration of the 2,500-acre park, guided hikes are offered. On one Saturday evening per month, visitors can enjoy a guided candlelight hike to the mill ruins. Lanterns are provided for the walk. On Nov. 4 and Dec. 9, a three-hour, three-mile hike, led by a geologist, passes through the quarry and mill. 1750 Mount Vernon Road, Lithia Springs. 770-732-5871. gastateparks.org/SweetwaterCreek
Amicalola Falls State Park
The 729-foot cascading waterfall is no doubt the main attraction, but Amicalola has many adventurous activities. Level one and two zip line courses in the Aerial Adventure Park give gliders an exhilarating view of wilderness in the 829-acre park. On the ground, an eight-mile path leads to the southern end of the Appalachian Trail. The park also has lodge rooms, cabins and campsites. 418 Amicalola Falls State Park, Dawsonville. 800-573-9656. amicalolafallslodge.com
Tallulah Gorge State Park
The park has 20 miles of trails. The North and South Rim Trails have numerous scenic views of foliage, Tallulah Falls and the gorge. Some trails are considered moderate or very difficult. The Stoneplace Trail runs 10 miles and is even longer if hikers proceed to the High Bluff. The two-and-a-half-mile Gorge Floor Trail is lined with rocks and boulders. Both trails require permits for hiking. 338 Jane Hurt Yarn Drive, Tallulah Falls. 770-754-7981. gastateparks.org/Tallulahgorge
insider Tip: Contact the park before bringing pets along. They are not permitted on some trails.
James H. Floyd State Park
The 561-acre green space is smaller than some state parks. There are 25 campsites and four two-bedroom cottages for overnight stays. Bird-watching is a popular park activity. In addition to its own collections of autumn-colored trees, the Chattahoochee National Forest surrounds the park. 2800 Sloppy Floyd Lake Road, Summerville. 706-857-0826. gastateparks.org/JamesHFloyd
Watson Mill Bridge State Park
Tour the park on foot, bike or horseback. There are seven- and five-mile trails for hiking and cycling, respectively, and 14 miles of trails for horseback riders. Stables can also be reserved for overnight stays. Watson Mill spans 1,118 acres and is known for its covered bridge, which runs 229 feet over the South Fork River. Washington W. King built the historic bridge. His father, Horace King, was a former slave and famous engineer of Georgia bridges. 650 Watson Mill Road, Comer. 706-783-5349. gastateparks.org/WatsonMillBridge
insider Tip: A “Haunted Hay Ride” from the covered bridge to the campground will take place from 6:30-9:30 p.m. on Oct. 26.
Indian Springs State Park
The park’s mineral waterway attracts visitors for homeopathic healing, drinking water and an education on Native Americans, the land’s first residents. The 528-acre park has a lake, cottages and campsites. The park has four miles of trails for hiking and three and a half miles for biking. A talk on the history of Indian Springs is held on the first Saturday of the month from 2-4 p.m. with a tour of the park museum and park access. 678 Lake Clark Road, Flovilla. 770-504-2277. gastateparks.org/IndianSprings
Fort Mountain State Park
The expansive 3,700-acre park is surrounded by scenic views with more than 25 miles of trails each for hiking, biking and horseback riding. A must-see for visitors includes a restored four-story stone fire tower that offers views of the park’s tree canopy. 181 Fort Mountain Road, Chatsworth. 706-422-1932. gastateparks.org/FortMountain
insider Tip: A Halloween costume contest with games and more activities will be near the lake from 1-4 p.m., Oct. 27.