As temperatures finally begin to drop across the country, now’s the time to explore below the Mason-Dixon line. Start planning your next outdoor adventure at one of our six favorite state parks in the South.
1. Oak Mountain State Park
The largest state park in Alabama, Oak Mountain spans 9,940 acres and is located just outside of Birmingham. Activities include hiking and biking more than 50 miles of trails, and there’s also a pump track and BMX course. To keep cool, you can enjoy boat rentals, fishing or relaxing at the beach and swimming areas. For a closer look at the natives, check out the park’s Alabama Wildlife Center, which cares for more than 2,000 wild birds each year.
2. Ichetucknee Springs State Park
Its name might not roll off the tongue, but Florida’s Ichetucknee Springs will leave you saying, “Wow.” The 2,669-acre state park in Fort White has wildlife viewing and hiking, but it’s best known for its refreshing water activities. They have tubing, paddling, snorkeling, scuba diving and swimming in its eight clear springs that make up the 6-mile Ichetucknee River.
3. Cloudland Canyon State Park
Located in the northwest corner of Georgia, Cloudland Canyon in Rising Fawn has 64 miles of hiking trails throughout its 3,538 acres. Some of the popular trails include (in order of difficulty) the short Overlook Trail, West Rim Loop Trail and Waterfalls Trail. There are also biking trails, horseback riding, fishing, caving (for experienced cavers) and disc golf.
4. Fontainebleau State Park
Along the shore of Lake Pontchartrain in Mandeville, La., the 2,800-acre Fontainebleau State Park is home to more than 400 different bird species and gorgeous views. Its 4 4/5-mile hiking and 1 1/4-mile nature trails, water playground and historic markers keep people coming back year round. You can also rent kayaks and paddleboards.
5. Tishomingo State Park
Named after the leader of the Chickasaw nation, Tishomingo State Park in Mississippi blends history and nature in its 1,530 acres. You can walk across the Natchez Trace Parkway, take a dip in the pool, fish in the 45-acre lake or hike trails ranging from 3/4-mile to 3 miles. The park also has rock outcropping and bluffs for climbing that can’t be found in any other county in the state.
6. Fall Creek Falls State Park
The largest park on our list by far, Fall Creek Falls covers a sprawling 29,800 acres in Tennessee. The park also features one of the largest waterfalls in the eastern part of the country, as well as gorges, streams and cascades. There are more than 56 miles of trails, rock climbing, boating, swimming, biking, fishing, golf and a challenge course.
We’ll help you pack
Before you head south, grab all of the gear and accessories you’ll need to make the most of your trip at Outdoors Geek. We carry backpacks, camping gear, apparel and more in our store at 4431 Glencoe St. in Denver; or your can rent gear online.