5 Primitive Camping Getaways in the Mountains of North Georgia

Oliver Hiltbrunner
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Spring has arrived and it’s the perfect time to dust off the camping gear and start exploring! Whether you’re looking for a quick weekend getaway or an entire week of adventure, North Georgia boasts many scenic primitive camping locations. Mountains, rivers, and streams abound with some only a short distance from Atlanta. Several camping destinations offer close proximity to hiking and mountain biking trails as well, allowing for easy planning and endless possibilities. Our list of favorites (all within a two hour drive of Atlanta) will have you enjoying sunny days and peaceful, starry nights in no time!

1.  Cooper Creek

Cooper Creek
Cooper Creek Carla Crump

Cooper Creek provides peaceful creekside camping in the North Georgia mountains along with several options for hikes on site at this pretty location near Blairsville. There are a total of 15 campsites (4 are waterfront) and all of the sites are within easy walking distance of the creek.

Fishing in Cooper or Mulky Creeks is popular along with hiking the 5 interconnected trails that start in or near the camping area (Yellow Mountain Trail- 3.2 miles, Connector Trail- 0.4 miles, Mill Shoals Trail- 0.9 miles, Shope Gap Trail- 0.6 miles, and Cooper Creek Trail- 1.7).

Cooper Creek is open year-round/24 hours a day for camper use with an $8 per night/site fee ($10 for creekside). Picnic tables, grills, tent pads, and lantern poles are located at each site. Cooper Creek is the perfect spot to enjoy some great day hiking followed by an evening campfire and creekside relaxation all in the same place! Directions to Cooper Creek Recreation Area.

2.  West Fork

Chattooga River/Dicks Creek Falls
Chattooga River/Dicks Creek Falls Carla Crump

For a true rustic riverside camping experience in North Georgia that you won’t forget, look no further than West Fork, located in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Perfect for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing this secluded location has only five walk-in sites that provide a picturesque view of the Chattooga River (plus plenty of star-gazing at night).

The campsites here provide ample privacy and are located within a short walk to the parking lot. They are also spacious with enough room for several tents, and feature picnic tables and grills. West Fork is open year-round/24 hours a day for camper use with an $8 per night/site fee. Tallulah Gorge is a nice add-on adventure to this location (about 27 miles south) as well as the nearby city of Clayton for dining. Directions to the West Fork.

3.  Tallulah River

Tallulah River
Tallulah River Carla Crump

Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Northeast Georgia, this beautiful location with an elevation of 2,080 feet is simply amazing. Campsites are scattered on wooded forest land with scenic views of the Tallulah River. The 17 large campsites feature picnic tables, grills, tent pads, and lantern poles.

Tallulah River is open year-round with a $15 per night/site fee. There are many rafting, paddling, and hiking opportunities available for those seeking rugged adventure and scenery. The Coleman River Scenic Area and the Coleman River Trail are close to the camping area as well and provide an easy 1-mile hiking experience that runs parallel to the river. Directions to the Tallulah River.

4.  DeSoto Falls

DeSoto Falls Camping
DeSoto Falls Camping USDA Forest Service

Located in the North Georgia mountains, DeSoto Falls Recreation Area offers dense forest and primitive creekside camping along the beautiful and serene Frogtown Creek. Trout fishing and hiking are popular here, with the trailhead to the 2 mile out-and-back DeSoto Falls Trail located on site. Hiking this trail is a must-do activity and features two scenic waterfalls.

DeSoto Falls is open year-round/24 hours a day for camper use with a $12 per night/site fee. There are 24 campsites offered that are equipped with tent pads, picnic tables, and grills. Dahlonega is also nearby if you want to take a break from camping and enjoy some great dining and sightseeing. Directions to DeSoto Falls.

5.  Upper Chattahoochee River

Upper Chattahoochee River Camping
Upper Chattahoochee River Camping Carla Crump

This 34-site campground located near Helen is just as spectacular as it is convenient. Located less than a half hour away from all the dining and events of the popular mountain town of Helen, this camping area still feels remarkably far away. Hiking, fishing, and biking are all popular activities at the Upper Chattahoochee and the Horse Trough Falls Foot Trail is also located on site. This short 0.2 mile trail leads to the spectacular Horse Trough Falls and a viewing deck from which the beginning of the Chattahoochee River can be seen.

Upper Chattahoochee is open from late March to early November/24 hours a day for camper use with a $12 per night/site fee. Picnic tables, tent pads, grills, and lantern poles are located at each site. Be sure to check out some of the hiking and biking trails in nearby Unicoi State Park as well if you have a chance! Directions to the Upper Catahoochee River.

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