(Last Updated On: April 18, 2022)

covered bridge over a waterfall at a state park near athens georgia

Georgia might be the home of peaches, peanuts, pecans and Coca Cola, but it is also home to some of America’s most beautiful topography too.

The largest state east of the Mississippi River, its northern mountains offer excellent opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, rafting, canoeing and fishing.

While at its center lies a picturesque landscape of rolling farmlands, lush forests and gorgeous countryside, which make great spots for camping, photography and relaxing.

Throughout these regions are a number of fantastic state parks which offer plenty of opportunity to get out into the great outdoors and experience the joys of nature.

If you are looking to escape the pressures of city life for a while these five state parks near Athens, Georgia are well worth visiting.

Map of State Parks Near Athens GA

Here is a map of the Georgia state parks covered in this post:

List of State Parks Near Athens

The five state parks outlined below can all be reached within an hour’s drive from Athens in Georgia. They are equally as good for day trip visits, as they are overnight stays too.

1. Victoria Bryant State Park

Location: 1105 Bryant Park Rd, Royston, GA 30662

family wading at a sliding rock in a state park near athens ga

Tucked away in the undulating hills of the Upper Piedmont region, Victoria Bryant State Park is a 40 minute drive north from Athens.

A lovely spot for hiking through hardwood forests and across flowing creeks, the 502-acre park also features a beautiful stream that serves as a scenic backdrop for a picnic.

The park has two small ponds that are very good for fishing, while there is also an outdoor swimming pool to enjoy in the summer.

Golfers will also love the park’s stunning course, which is built around steep inclines of rolling hills, spectacular Bermuda fairways and sloping greens.

For those wanting to stay overnight there is a small campground that can accommodate 27 tents, trailers and RV Campsites, as well as two pioneer campgrounds that sleep up to 75 people.

Within the park there are also 5 Picnic Shelters and 3 playgrounds for the kids to enjoy.

2. Watson Mill Bridge State Park

Location: 650 Watson Mill, Comer, GA 30629

Just 25 minutes northeast of Athens you will find the Watson Mill Bridge State Park.

Split by the meandering South Fork River, the 1,118-acre park features the longest covered bridge still in use in Georgia. Which not only provides wonderful photo opportunities, but also has a rich history. (It was built by one Horace King in 1885, who was the son of a freed slave).

The park has a number of horseback riding, biking and hiking trails that are well worth exploring – taking you past thick forest and to river’s which are great for fishing and swimming at certain times in the summer. You can also hire kayaks, canoes or pedal boats, seasonally, to take to the river too.

If you are wanting to stay here the campground has room for 21 tents, trailers or RV Campsites. There are also 11 equestrian campsites and 22 horse stables too, along with 3 log cabin bunkhouses, and 3 pioneer campsites.

3. Richard B. Russell State Park

Location: 2650 Russell State Park Dr, Elberton, GA 30635

Although it will take you 55 minutes to drive northeast to the Richard B. Russell State Park, it is well worth the drive.

Situated around a 26,650 lake this is the perfect spot for those who love fishing and other water based activities like swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding or canoeing.

When not on the water, you can choose to explore a stunning nature trail that flanks the shoreline and leads you to one of the regions oldest steel pin bridges. The trail also loops through a gorgeous locale of lush woodland, before returning to the beach.

Another state park that is known for hosting a fantastic golf course, as well as a disc golf course, the park is also a popular spot for geocaching.

Located directly on, or near the water’s edge, the park’s campground can accommodate 27 tents, trailers and RV campsites. It also boasts 20 fully equipped cottages and 3 picnic shelters.
Conveniently, most of the park facilities, including at the beach, have been designed to provide easy wheelchair accessibility.

4. Don Carter State Park

Location: 5000 N Browning Bridge Rd, Gainesville, GA 30506

The Don Carter State Park is the furthest of all these state parks in Athens, Georgia. Although it will take you about an hour of driving north west to get there, it will present you with a scintillating landscape where the mighty Chattahoochee River meets the shimmering Lake Lanier.

This confluence provides you with fabulous opportunities for water based fun. Nestled on the northern part of the reservoir, the park has numerous boat ramps that give you quick access to both the river and lake.

The surrounding hardwood forest can also easily be explored by hiking or on bike and a large, sandy swimming beach, complete with a bath house should entertain you for hours.

The 1,316 acre park offers a variety of accommodation options including 44 tent, trailer and RV campsites, as well as 8 cottages. It also has another primitive camping area which is set up for 14 tents and hammocks. As well as a shop that sells all the standard things you might need.

5. Fort Yargo State Park

Location: 210 S Broad St, Winder, GA 30680

A 30 minute drive west from Athens in Georgia will take you to Fort Yargo State Park.

Notably featuring a log fort that dates back to 1792, most visitors come here for the gorgeous scenery and wonderful outdoor recreational activities.

A sparkling 260 acre lake, complete with a large beach for swimming, is one of the main highlights of the area. Whilst there is plenty of very good fishing here too. In addition there is also almost 21 miles of hiking and mountain bike trails to explore as well.

With 16 cottages, 6 yurts, 47 tent, trailer and RV campsites, and 12 walk-in campsites, your accommodate options are well covered here.

The park also has a popular wooded disc golf course, which is known to be very challenging too.