The vast North Georgia mountains offer a limitless expanse of adventure destinations, ranging from short relaxing hikes to daylong backpacking trips across Georgia’s most scenic vistas. Along with extensive outdoor excursions, the North Georgia mountains are rich in history and art. We put together five hidden gems of things to do in North Georgia where anyone can find something that sparks their interest.
Tucked away deep in the Chattahoochee National Forest between Helen and Hiawassee is the stunning Horsetrough Falls. Enjoy fun off-roading down one of North Georgia’s most scenic forest service roads. Four-wheel drive is recommended. Follow Chattahoochee River Road north out of Helen, and treat yourself to stunning overlooks and primitive campsites.
After arriving at the Upper Chattahoochee River Campground, the waterfall is a short walk from the trailhead parking area. Once you reach the platform, relish the spectacular 70-ft waterfall views that cascade down a rock formation and into the creek that flows through the campground. On a sunny spring day, if the sun hits the waterfall just right, look for a rainbow to form in the mist. Learn more about the short hike on AllTrails.
Chestatee River Kayaking
Looking for a water adventure in North Georgia? Just south of downtown Dahlonega flows the beautiful Chestatee River. While there are a number of places in the mountains well suited for kayak and float trips, this section of the Chestatee offers an escape from the hustle and bustle. Float along the six-mile trip through mild rapids until you reach the takeout point shortly before flowing into Lake Lanier. The river trip flows around a mountain, away from highways and busy town life.
The soothing sounds of flowing water, spectacular views of woods and wildlife, and great fishing spots are sure to provide the serenity desired in a mountain getaway. For anyone lacking water gear, Chestatee River Adventures and Appalachian Outfitters are great resources for equipment rentals or booking a group outing.
Panther Creek Falls
Hike lovers, this one’s for you! In the northern part of Habersham County near the Turnerville community, find Panther Creek Falls. Plan to devote an entire day for this adventure. This hike includes a seven-mile round trek through beautiful scenery you’ll want to pause and enjoy. The hike can be strenuous in some areas, so be sure to pack plenty of water and stay hydrated. The trail winds along Panther Creek the entire way to the waterfall, and there are several great places to stop for a picnic or to set up camp. Panther Creek Falls is the perfect getaway location for backpacking, fishing, camping, or just a casual day of hiking and swimming.
Once you arrive at the waterfall, prepare to walk into an oasis. With an 80-ft waterfall pouring into a large swimming hole surrounded by the natural beauty of trees and wildflowers, Panther Creek Falls is remarkable. You’ll want to go for a dip and cool off after a long hike. On the rocks beneath the waterfall, sit and enjoy the creek showering down on you. The area around the pool at the base of the falls is flat and sandy, ideal for drying off after a swim. Get some rest and relaxation before you begin your trek back. Pro tip: Bring a towel!
Vogel State Park
Located at the northern base of Blood Mountain in the Chattahoochee National Forest, Vogel State Park is the second oldest state park in Georgia. As you turn off the highway and make your way into the park, enjoy sweeping views of the 22-acre Trahlyta Lake surrounded by tree-covered mountains. During spring and summer, rent a paddle boat and venture out onto the lake for truly outstanding views of the mountains. Anyone looking for an easy and relaxing hike can enjoy the Lake Loop Trail. Plus, it’s dog-friendly.
For more adventurous hikers, the park offers over 17 miles of hiking trails around the side of Blood Mountain. Popular treks to lookout for include Bear Hair Gap Trail that leads to an overlook of the park and Coosa Backcountry Trail that can be taken to connect to the Appalachian Trail. For campers, either with a tent or RV, there is an expansive campground with activities great for kids including a playground and mini golf course. For glampers, there are cabins along the tree line or by the lake available to rent. These amenities coupled with multiple picnic tables, grills, group pavilions, a camp store and gift shop make the park an ideal family fun destination. No matter how many adventure buddies you’re braving the wilderness with, Vogel State Park is a great pick!