Go ahead and wrap your head around this now, Georgia not only has it’s very own “Little Grand Canyon” but it also happens to be located in a community by the name of…Lumpkin. So snickers aside, Providence Canyon in rural Stewart County Georgia is perhaps southern Georgia’s best kept secret. Who knew there was even a “canyon” on the east coast much less in the middle of agrarian south west Georgia?
I certainly did not, even as an avid road-trip traveler based out of Florida who routinely takes pride in knowing a good majority of Georgia’s scenic back-roads and vistas…
Situated in Lumpkin, GA the canyon is little more than forty miles due south of Columbus Georgia and some 140 miles south of Atlanta via interstates 85/185. Tucked away back from the main road and haloed by a ring of rich green oaks and camphor trees this 1,000 acre state park is considered to be one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Georgia and descends more than 500 feet to it’s basin.
Providence Canyon actually is not a purely natural feature — the massive gullies (the deepest being 500+ feet) were caused by erosion due to poor farming practices in the 19th century. It is also home to the very rare plumleaf azalea.
This old story of the origin of the canyons has been commonplace since the 1940s. Although there were probably a few early arrivals before 1825, the first heavy influx of settlers in Stewart county came after the Treaty of Indian Springs (1825) by which the Creek Indians ceded all their lands east of the Chattahoochee river. Evidence of the existence of the canyons is their mention in a deed by James S Lunsford to William Tatam recorded in 1836.
The park lies on marine sediments—usually loamy or clayey, with small areas of sand. Loamy sand topsoils overlie subsoils of sandy clay loam, sandy clay, or clay in most of the uneroded section. Nankin, Cowarts, Mobila, and Orangeburg are the most prominent soil series. The canyons have much exposure of clay, over which water often seeps. Water is mobile in this well drained area.
One of the quirkier attractions of the state park is an abandoned homestead including nearly a dozen rusty, 1950s-era cars and trucks. Due to the environmental damage that removing the vehicles would cause, park officials have decided to leave them alone.
A hikers paradise the descent down into the canyon is steep and well weather worn, proceed only with good hiking shoes or boots and use caution with the weather. The soil here is loose and easily prone to erosion and slippage so a midst a hard rain storm it can be a moderately treacherous place to be.
How To Get There!
Take Interstate 75 north to Tifton Georgia and take exit 62 got US-82/GA 520 West towards Albany.
Take Interstate 85/185 south to Columbus Georgia and take exit 1a south towards Cussetta and Albany