Back in February, we decided to take a weekend trip to southwest Georgia to visit Providence Canyon State Park. Providence Canyon is also known as Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon.” The canyon is made up of clay, loam, and sand, and was formed from erosion from 19th century agricultural practices. The canyon’s soil comes in vibrant colors: pinks, oranges, reds, purples, and whites. If you visit in July and August, you can see the rare Plumleaf Azalea blooming. The canyon is a beautiful place to spend a day exploring nature!
Entrance to the park is $5 or free if you have a Friends of Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites Membership. There are two trails you can hike, although many people come just to have lunch at the picnic tables overlooking the canyon. Overnight hikers can obtain a permit in advance for the longer 7-mile backcountry trail that circles the park. A more popular option is the Canyon Loop Trail, a 2.5-mile trail that is open to day hikers.
We chose to take the Canyon Loop Trail and explore several of the canyon trails for additional mileage (if you complete the trail and visit all canyons, the total is around 4.5 miles). We began from a picnic area and hiked in a clockwise direction, ending at the Visitor Center. The hike began with fantastic views of the canyon. As we entered the forest, we passed an abandoned homestead with several rusty 1950s-era cars and trucks.
We gradually descended on the trail and followed the creek bed into the canyons. We explored several of the canyons, admiring the many colors and features, before ascending to finish the loop and check out the Visitor Center, which has an exhibit that displays photos and explains the history of the area.
If you visit Providence Canyon, we recommend wearing lightweight hiking shoes as the canyon floors can be wet, muddy, and a bit slick. The canyon walls are made up of fragile soil and are not to be climbed. All you really need to bring is water, snacks and/or lunch, and your camera and you’ll be all set!
Before or after visiting Providence Canyon, stop for lunch or dinner at 4 Way BBQ in the nearby town of Lumpkin. The restaurant is open from 11-7 on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and 11-3 on Sunday. We recommend the pulled pork.
If you want to spend the night near the state park, but don’t want to camp, stay in nearby Columbus on the Georgia-Alabama border. The charming town offers plenty of activities to merit a weekend stay. One of the biggest attractions is whitewater rafting and kayaking. Columbus boasts the longest urban whitewater rafting course in the world on the Chattahoochee River. Blue Heron Adventure operates a whitewater outfitter and also offers a zipline between Georgia and Alabama.
There are also several great walking trails in Columbus, like the Chattahoochee RiverWalk, a 15 mile walking and biking trail, the Columbus Fall Line Trace, an 11 mile fitness trail, and the Black Heritage Trail, a National Recreation Trail. Just outside of Columbus is the Pine Mountain Wild Animal Park where you can take a safari through 3.5 miles of animals from all over the world.
While in Columbus, have dinner at 11th and Bay The restaurant offers Southern food in a comfortable and inviting, yet refined, environment. Food is sourced from local farmers and purveyors. Sit outside for fresh air and views of the Chattahoochee River and Riverwalk. What to order: Smoked fish dip, Soul burger.
In the morning before heading home, walk around the quaint downtown and Riverwalk after picking up a honey cinnamon latte at Fountain City Coffee.
Have you ever been to Columbus, Georgia or Providence Canyon? Please let me know! Thanks for reading and come back for another post soon!