Providence Canyon

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Essentials: 

  • Plan for about a five mile hike that’s pretty hilly if you do the trail and all the canyons.  If it rained recently pick another day.  It’ll be really wet and slick.
  • The canyon was caused by poor agricultural practiced long ago.
  • It’s something that’s pretty unique to the south and worth seeing in my opinion.
  • Florence Marina has a nice campground and is close to the canyon.
  • Columbus, GA is about 45 minutes away.
  • Eufala, AL is about 25 minutes away and worth visiting.

My Story:

My trip to Providence Canyon was my first solo trip that wasn’t somehow related to education. I just wanted to hike the canyon and my family’s’ schedule didn’t work to come along  off I went alone. The drive back and forth was much quieter but lonelier too. It was just about four hours for me to get there from Pensacola. I made an honest effort to pay the Iron Ranger but they were out of envelopes. Once you enter the park you drive down a road that passes some of the best views of the top of the canyon. Parking spots are available along the road at various points and you need to stop there if you’re not going to hike either of the trails. If you’re hiking the trails don’t waste time stopping. You’ll walk right by all that. Farther down the road you’ll pass an old church. It was built in 1859 and is open to go check out. There’s nothing really special about it other than being old but it’s nice to see. Behind the church there’s an old graveyard that really cool. It’s not in good condition and the graves are quite old. If you go to all that later in the day it may feel a bit spooky if you’re sensitive to that stuff. I’m not. I was waiting for some old county ghost to come out and say “Hi” but I left with out so much as hearing a creaking door.

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The main parking lot is at a visitor center that wasn’t open while I was there. Side note: The lights in the bathrooms are motion controlled and on a short timer. So, you if take a few minutes expect the lights to go out and the palmetto bugs to happily run free in the dark. Anyway, behind the visitor center is where all trails start. Go right down a winding path that ends on the canyon floor. The canyon is basically a path for water to flow so expect it to be wet. Dress appropriately and if it has just rained hard I wouldn’t go at all. It’d be too wet. Once you’re off of the trail from the visitor center you can go right to the Red Blazed trail, a seven mile loop, straight to the White Blazed Trail or left to the first and most accessible set of canyons. I started left and recommend everyone do the same the first time.

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Canyons One, Two and three are down a narrow path/stream and are full of vegetation. Four and Five, I believe, are the most accessible. They’re down a wide path and are the canyons that most people visit while there. I saw about a half dozen other groups of people in the Four and Five area. After the first five canyons you have you get on the White Blazed Trail to access the rest. I was the only person that did that while I was there. It was nice having the trail and canyons Six through Nine to myself. Someone was there not too long before me though. I could see their tracks in the mud. Canyons Six through Nine are harder to access as well. You will have to go though some brush to get there. All in all the canyons are nice.  If you’ve ever been in a large clay pit in the south it’ll sort of seem like that but prettier and with a lot of vegetation.

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After all the canyons it’s back to the trail. For about a half mile or so the trail winds uphill out of the canyons and it can be a little challenging but if you’re used to a little hiking it won’t be a problem. Eventually you’ll make it to the top. The first overlook is one of the best. You’ll have to jump the fence and go through the bushes but once you do you’re rewarded with a great view with a sort of ledge that sticks out a bit to walk out onto. Back on the trail it winds toward the entrance road and winds past all those overlooks you saw coming into the park. Many good photo spots run along the path that eventually ends where you start at the visitor center. All in all, I’d say you’ll log about five miles doing all of the canyons and the White Blazed Trail. The Red Blazed Trail is a seven miler that I didn’t have time to do. Plus, it doesn’t pass any canyons. It does path something called the South Glory Hole. That might be cool but I wouldn’t know. After all that driving and hiking I was pretty tired. I actually toured the church after my hike then checked into the Florence Marina State Park Campground nearby. Providence Canyon only allows primitive camping.

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Florence Marina

Florence Marina State Park is really just a small park with boat docks, cabins and a camp store. I checked in and set up camp in the back of my truck. No need to pitch a tent for just one short night.  Florence Marina also had very nice bathhouse facilities so I could actually feel clean at the end of the day.

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Columbus, GA

Dinner time! It took about 45 minutes to get to Columbus from the campground. Not a whole lot was open when I arrived. I settled for a trendy place called Nonic. I had an excellent hamburger and a couple of those hipster craft beers. (I don’t consider myself a hipster at all) After that I strolled down to the river walk. This was about 10 PM on a weeknight and it was dead except for some questionable looking characters. Especially around the pedestrian bridge connecting GA to Al. If I had my family I probably wouldn’t of walked down there at night. Maybe it’s safe but I’d do it in the daylight if I were you.

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Eufala, AL

Eufala is the closest town to Providence Canyon and Florence Marina. I’d say it takes about 25 to 30 minutes to get from to canyon to town. Eufala is one of those classic one street southern towns. It reminded me a lot of Fairhope, AL but not quite as upscale. It was morning when I was there. I had coffee at Superior Pecans. They have a pecan roast that’s pretty amazing. I normally don’t go for flavored stuff but this one’s a winner. Then I rode through the historic district and toured the Shorter Mansion as recommended by one of y’all. It’s a neat house. Not the best tour I’ve done but it’s only $5 and worth stopping by. After that I headed home. I did stop by a farmers market type place to buy some sorghum syrup but that’s it. All worth a short visit or even turning into a larger trip depending on what you want to explore.

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2 Comments

  1. Great post Justin! Loved all of the canyon photos.

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