In May, Paycheck, Calamity and I took a quick trip to the coast and en route, got in an overnight at Providence Canyon State Park in GA.
There is a $5 parking fee at the state park as well as a $10 a night per person backcountry camping fee. Water and bathrooms at the top.
We were assured there was water in the creeks, so we only took a liter each. There IS water in the creeks, but the creeks are nowhere near the campsites! So bring extra water or just realize there will be a hike after the hike to restock.
The backcountry trail is a 7 mile loop, it drops into the canyon and takes a sharp right at the first creek and meanders through the woods a while before climbing up in one long go to a woody ridge just after passing the trail to the unfortunately named pond ‘Glory Hole’. These are basic ‘trees and rocks’ woods, there’s no views into the canyon or anything special. Site 5 is the best site, 6, 3 and 4 are within sight of the trail. Site 2 is badly eroded down to the sandstone. Site 1 was not marked in a way we could find it, so it very well may be awesomesauce.
After the campsites, which are all in a row along maybe a mile or so of ridgeline, the trail drops back into the valley below and meanders a while again. It eventually climbs back out to the rim of the canyon around mile 5 (I am estimating here, so don’t set a GPS by my mileage). There are old rusty cars and an inexplicable official-looking sign that says the state park is still 6 miles away. It’s not.
The red-blazed backcountry trail goes BACK down into the canyon just beyond this point, we opted to stay on the white blazed trail that follows the rim so we could scoot into the bathrooms at the picnic area to get more water and drop our packs at the van. We did both and headed into the eroded part of the canyon with daypacks and cameras to enjoy the views without the extra weight.
In the canyon itself, there is not enough water flow to collect and treat easily, so bring plenty of water even for just a day hike. There are bathrooms, picnic tables a small playground, and a drink machine, but no snack bar or even restaurants within a 20 minute drive.