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5 Best Things to do in Providence Canyon State Park

What I want to show you in this article isn’t just the best things to do in Providence Canyon State Park Georgia, but to also give you a preview of what to expect when you come here, because there are some surprises about this place that I learned after visiting it that could be a little disappointing to some people.

Now don’t get me wrong, the park is awesome and stunning in many spots but there are limitations to just how much you can do there which may impact your experiences at Providence Canyon State Park, just something to keep in mind and all of that will be covered in this post.

Quick info on Providence Canyon State Park GA:

  • Name: Providence Canyon State Park.
  • Location: Georgia State (near Lumpkin).
  • Entrance fee: $5.
  • Is it family friendly? Yes.
  • Is it dog friendly? Yes.
  • Can you explore it in one day? Yes.
  • Things to do: Picnicking, camping, hiking and more.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
  • Recommended? Yes, this park is certainly beautiful and there’s interesting things to do (coming up) but understand that there are limitations to how much you can do there which can impact how much you like exploring the area.

Here are the 5 best things to do in Providence Canyon State Park:

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  1. Hike the main Providence Canyon trail.
  2. Do the Perimeter Loop trail.
  3. See Providence Canyon from the top areas.
  4. Camping.
  5. Picnicking.

I’ll talk about these activities shortly, but let me first talk about important things you should know before you come here.

5 things to know before you visit Providence Canyon State Park:

1) There are 9 canyons to explore within the park:

The good news is that you can see all 9 on one single/short hike, but you have to go down into the canyon to do it (details coming up).

  • The main Providence Canyon trail will take you to 5 canyons.
  • Then the very beginning of the Perimeter Loop trail will take you to the other 4.

2) The actual height of the canyons isn’t that huge either:

With the way I saw this park advertised and that it was called a “mini Grand Canyon”, I thought I’d get some decent sized mountains to see, but that wasn’t the case. The highest canyons reach only about 100 feet up:

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3) There are a lot of limits to how much of the actual canyon you can explore:

When I first came here, I thought I could hike up to one or more of those 9 canyons, but I was mistaken. You can only really walk up to them, but not climb them. There are even danger signs saying you can’t go further:

providence canyon state park climbing sign 07

This is due to the erosion, delicacy of the terrain and dangers of landslides. It’s something I wasn’t aware of when I went, but you should know this is if you’re more of an interactive explorer like I am. If you just enjoy sightseeing and simple walks to canyons, you will likely enjoy this park.

4) There are basically 4 sections to the park:

3 of them are at the bottom where you have to hike down into the park and 1 is at the top.

  1. The hike into the 9 canyons (you have to hike down to see it).
  2. Another hike that goes around the park (It connects with the same hike that goes through the 9 canyons).
  3. A camping section of the park (it’s at the bottom too, but you have to hike to an entirely different part of the area).
  4. The parking and overlook areas of the park from the top (no need to hike down to anything here).

5) Parts of the Providence Canyon State Park map are actually upside down:

So the map that I received in the welcome center showcases how to best explore the park and the numbers associated with the places to see are literally upside down and that can really confuse people. The official map online however is correctly edited.

Now this doesn’t mean the locations on that map are backwards or anything, but just understand that if you get the same map I did, to disregard that “typo”.

Note: I’ll be providing my own updates to that map to help you properly navigate this area. I’ll be using the official map, but adding my own edits to (hopefully) make it simpler for you to use.

1) Do the main Providence Canyon trail (2 miles, 5 canyons):

providence canyon hiking trail 03

In my personal opinion this is the top priority of what’s worth seeing in the park because this is the trail that’ll take you through 5 of the 9 canyons within the park. I’ve included a map above to show you how it looks.

The trail starts right behind the official welcome center area and it is a slow decline in slope down into the canyon (it’s only about 1/4 miles). Once you get to the bottom you will see a sign showing you 3 options:

  1. Left takes you through 5 of the 9 canyons (that’s the one you want).
  2. Forward (up) takes you through the loop trail (next activity on the list).
  3. Right takes you to the backpacking and camping areas of the park.

Again you will turn left and that will lead you into a 3 way fork. Each fork is basically it’s own mini trail where you will see one or more canyons on each, return back to the main 3 way fork, then go into the next mini fork trail until you finish seeing all 5 canyons there. Here is how that looks like:

providence canyon state park hikes 05

2) Hike the Perimeter Loop trail (3 miles, 4 more canyons):

Once you’re done exploring the first 5 canyons in the trail above, you’ll come back to the same 3 way sign from before (not the 3 way fork). Then you will turn left and that will put you on the Perimeter Loop Trail:

providence canyon state park perimeter trail 08

Shortly after you are on this trail you will have 2 forks that take you to the other 4 canyons and the good news is that it’s close enough to the main Providence Canyon Trail from earlier that you can see all 9 canyons in about 2 miles. Once you explore the other 4 on this trail, you have 2 options:

  1. Return back to the main welcome center and parking lot.
  2. Continue on the Perimeter Loop trail (after exploring the 4 other canyons) which goes around the park.

If you choose the 2nd option, you’ll just continue through more wooded areas and overviews of the 4 canyons you hiked through before. This will take you around the park, then back up to the main road and welcome center. For this hike, I would recommend some basic hiking gear such as trail running or hiking shoes and maybe some sort of trekking poles for the Perimeter loop.

Note: If you combine the Canyon Trail with the Perimeter Trail, you will have a 5 mile loop hike (and see all 9 canyons).

3) See Providence Canyon from the top areas:

providence canyon observation area 02

There’s 2 ways to do this:

  1. Explore the Perimeter Loop trail (specifically the southern side where you get overlooks of the 4 canyons).
  2. Just explore the areas right by Canyon Road you drive into when you enter the park (you can see decent overlooks of the first 5 canyons).

The second choice will provide plenty of nice views and is great if you’re not in the mood (or health) to hike down into the canyon. There’s at least 1 mile of walking if you opt for the 2nd choice because there is plenty to see in terms of overlooks of the park from that 1 mile path that goes parallel to Canyon Road. The most famous viewpoint in this area is the Providence Canyon Observation Area.

Note: Keep in mind that if you do the full Perimeter Loop trail, you will explore all the overlook areas of the park.

4) Camping:

providence canyon state park welcome center 05

Camping is also a popular thing to do in Providence Canyon State Park. In order to make it happen, you will need to:

  1. Reserve a camp spot here.
  2. Hike down into the canyon (to the same 3 way fork from earlier), but on that fork, turn right. This will take you into the backpacking trails where you will find the campsites.

Do note that if you decide to camp in this park, that the camping spots will not have any canyons to see and they will only be accessible by hiking back to the trails from earlier.

5) Picnicking:

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This can be done on the upper areas of the park (where you have the overlooks). There are bathrooms, picnic tables and even playgrounds in the area. Picnicking is a great way to spend one day at Providence Canyon State Park which if you’re in a group and one doesn’t want to go down into the canyon, they can wait for you in the top area, while you go into the canyon itself and hike there. You can also catch some amazing Providence Canyon State Park photos there.

Here is the Providence Canyon State Park map:

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You can also download the official Providence Canyon State Park map here. Again this is actually the correct option (no upside down numbers). I also added my own edits to the map I got from the welcome center so it’s easier to understand. I’d love to know if you love my version of the map more!

Providence Canyon reviews:

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Other questions about Providence Canyon State Park:

Does Providence Canyon have a waterfall?

No there is no waterfall in the Providence Canyon State Park area.

How long do people spend at Providence Canyon?

Usually 1 day. It’s more than enough to see the best places and hikes in Providence Canyon State Park.

Can you see Providence Canyon without hiking?

Yes, there are many overlook areas right off Canyon Road where you can see Providence Canyon without having to hike in there.

What is the best time of year to visit Providence Canyon?

I recommend visiting Providence Canyon State Park between February and May because it isn’t very hot there and you can generally explore the area without seeing too many people.

What is the best hike in Providence Canyon State Park?

There are 2, the Canyon Trail and Perimeter Loop trail which you can mix together to make a 5 mile loop around Providence Canyon State Park and see the best spots there.

Things to do near Providence Canyon State Park:

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Because it’s so remote, there’s honestly not many things to do near Providence Canyon State Park so if you really want to see awesome places, you will need to drive a few hours and there happen to be many spots in each direction which offer amazing sights to see. The only closest park worth seeing nearby is Florence Marina Park but other than that, here’s a few awesome parks and places but they are further from Providence Canyon:

  • Tallulah Gorge State Park, that one however is about 3 hours north of Providence Canyon.
  • There is also a great area called Cheaha State Park 3 hours northeast of Providence Canyon.
  • There is also Smoky Mountain National Park 4-5 hours northeast.
  • The Blue Ridge Mountains are also right by Smoky Mountain National Park.
  • 2-3 hours north west is Big South Fork and it’s one of my favorite places.

I hope this article helped you in understand how to correctly explore Providence Canyon State Park as well as the limits I walk talking about earlier.

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