Distance: 7 mile loop
Time to Complete: 3.5 – 4 hours
I recently completed the 7 mile loop around and down Providence Canyon.
The trail begins at the Providence Canyon Visitor Center, which is now only open on weekends. Before hiking the backcountry loops, hikers are asked to sign in at the registration box at the top of the trail.
From the registration box, the trail immediately begins a a gradual descent into the canyon.
At the Canyon Floor, hikers can take a left for a short in-and-back hike into the first set of canyons (covered here). Hiking straight up the hill in the photo above would take hikers on a 3 mile loop to another set of canyons. A right along the creek begins the red-blazed backcountry trail. I recommend hikers take the first left before returning to the backcountry trail. The backcountry trail doesn’t take hikers into any of the canyons, but around the perimeter of the canyon.
The trail continues for a little over one mile along the creek bed. After the wet spring we had this year (2014), the creek bed was pretty moist and I recommend hikers wear waterproof boots along this section of the trail.
Shortly after crossing a wooden bridge over the creek bed, the trail begins a very gradual ascent before hitting one of the trails steepest climbs around the 2 mile point. The ascent is steep, but is not very long. At its top campsite 6 is the first passed along an old logging road. From here, the trail remains mostly flat for one-two miles. Camp site 5 sits off a short spur trail, and Campsite 4 is large wooden shelter right on the middle of the trail.
After hiking for another mile or so, the trail again descends down a steep, somewhat slippery path toward another very wet area. Unlike the sandy, somewhat solid creek bed in the other canyon, this section of trail is quite muddy, and can hold some unpleasant smells from all of the stagnant water. This section is pretty short, however, and it quickly switches back up another ascent. This time, the trail climbs twice separated by a relatively flat grade.
The final steep ascent brings hikers back to the top of the canyon. From here, the trail winds along the rim of the canyon for 2 miles. This section provides the best views of the canyon. It also has a few bonus views of abandoned cars from the homesteads that used to be located in the area (and possibly contributed to the farming practices that created the canyon).
As hikers continue along the rim overviews, the trail opens up to parallel the entrance road and the picnic area. The trail continues along the fence line to several more overviews before returning to the visitor center.
1. From Highway 27 in Lumpkin head north.
2. Turn left onto Georgia 39c (brown signs on the road where to turn)
3. Follow Georgia 39C approximately 7.5 miles.
4. Turn left into Providence Canyon. Hiking trail and park lot are at the end of the road.