Where do you go when you’re just having a day? Good or bad, whether shit’s hittin’ the fan or you just got the best news of your life. For some people it’s their favorite coffee shop, for others its the gym (which I must say is a close second), and for others yet it’s blowing money at the mall. For me, nothing does it quite like a long hike. Drop me in the middle of any national/state park and I’m in my glory. I swear nothing beats the mix of endorphins, sweat, dirt and fresh air… especially when you know there’s a gorgeous view waiting for you at the end.
Now back home, this was easy. I know every state park/trail/walking path within a 30 mile radius of Syracuse. But finding a good place to hike in Alabama has been no easy feat. Unless you want to head north toward the Blue Ridge Mountains (a trip that I’d already taken once), I realized pretty early on there’s not a lot of elevation around here- I mean, they don’t call it the loveliest village on the plains for nothing- but that’s never stopped me. With a little help from AllTrails, a little Google sleuthing and Instagram location page stalking (I swear by this when I’m looking for places to explore outside of your typical tourist traps or want to find quality pictures of a location to make sure it really lives up to the hype), I found the gorgeous Providence Canyon State Park, only a little over an hour southeast of Auburn in Lumpkin, GA. Lumpikin, what a name. Only in the south, I tell ya.
One of my favorite things about this park is it boasts beautiful scenery both overlooking the canyon, and once you get down inside. From up top, it really does resemble a mini (okay… mini, mini, mini) Grand Canyon, and the White Blaze Trail takes you straight along the edge for some jaw-dropping views.
Speaking of trails, I highly recommend sticking to the white trail if you’re only there for a day trip. It’s about a 2.5 mile total loop and offers several different trails that split off, giving you the chance to see as many (or as few) canyons as you’d like. We were a little bit confused at first about which trail to follow, but the park does a good job of having staff around to answer any questions you might have (and enforce rules, you have been warned). The other option available to hikers is the red trail, but this takes upwards of 6 hours to hike, requires a permit, and only really takes you farther into the wooded area surrounding the canyons. In other words, although often not the case, you’re not missing anything by taking the shorter hike!
Once you start your descent into the canyons, I definitely recommend having your camera ready! Beautiful white, red, and even in some areas, purple, sand and canyon walls greet you from every direction. You will also be greeted by many happy dogs and their owners, crowds of girls dressed in the latest Lulu fashion, and probably even witness a few professional photo shoots going down.
At the bottom of the canyon you’ll find the creek bed itself. We had a group of hikers come up to us asking where to go because they were told they couldn’t walk down the bed- not true! Walk about a quarter mile, maybe less (pictured above), and you’ll see signs for the various canyons. There are three trails that split off and lead to nine distinct different canyons to explore, so have at it!.
Here are just some of the many pictures we captured throughout the day:
In terms of things I look for when I go hiking, Providence Canyon pretty much checked them all off my list. Clearly marked trails, picnic benches/facilities, and gorgeous views. I felt like I had been teleported back to Vegas for the day, and my heart was happpppy to say the least:
(Vegas pictured left, Providence Canyon pictured right)
At the end of the day, we loaded back up into the car and did what only I know how to do best- ruin a nice, healthy day with a pitstop at McDonald’s. Well-fed but tired, the perfect day.
Am I missing out on hikes in the GA/AL area? Are there parks that only the locals know about? Help a Yankee girl out and drop me a suggestion in the comments or my inbox!