So what do you do when the weather is cold and rainy in North Georgia? Head to South Georgia, of course! I tend to forget anything south of Atlanta even exists, unless I’m there for work, and can be kind of cynical when it comes to hiking outside of North Georgia. This year though, I put two noteworthy South Georgia hikes on my to-do list: Cumberland Island and Providence Canyon. I’d been intrigued by Providence Canyon for several years, but was put off by the distance from our house. So when some other ambassadors from Girls Who Hike planned a hike at Providence Canyon in February, I finally got the kick I needed to get down there. Plus, the hike was co-ed so I brought James along to help with the long 3 hour drive.
This hike really highlighted how I have apparently forgotten I grew up below sea level and what it’s like to hike on sandy terrain. The mountain air gets to you, I tell ya! Anyways, Providence Canyon was created after farmers overused the soil and led it to wash out into deep canyons. The floor of the canyon is actually below the water table, meaning there is running water present pretty much at all times. Did I think to have James and I wear hiking sandals? Of course not! It was also quite warm, so sandals would have been fine. We wore our brand new trail runners, which got soaked and full of sand. But other than that, the hike is quite easy and has no unusual challenges.
We started out hiking down into the canyons, which are numbered with signs, and split off into “fingers” around the canyon floor. The soil is a beautiful range of colors, from white to pink to orange. Some of it was sparkly and we joked around it would make a good bronzer. That being said, the canyons are fragile and caution should be exercised when touching them. Unfortunately, we saw lots of people climbing up the walls and onto ledges behind guard rails. It was disheartening and I continue to not understand why people are so intent on destroying nature (or possibly hurting themselves). My fellow hikers and I feel like parks should have drones that zoom in and issue citations on the spot for people like this!
After hiking around the canyon floor, we went back up and hiked around the rim trail to see the canyons from above. There were great views all around and since this trail is really flat, it would be good for anyone who is not able to go down into the canyons. From the rim trail, you could really get a sense of how impressive the canyons really are. Someone told me a while back they felt like Providence Canyon was overrated and did not live up to their expectations. No it is not like the canyons of the west, but it is truly a unique, very unexpected place in South Georgia. I’d say it’s a must visit for anyone who wants to see all that Georgia has to offer.
Bonus- there is not a lot in the immediate area of Providence Canyon, but there is a really nice brewery! After the hike, we went to Omaha Brewing and enjoyed some drinks, plus food trucks and some other vendors outside. It was truly a hidden gem and made for a great stop before our long trek back to North Georgia.