Today, May 7th, is National Tourism Day! Amicalola Falls State Park is one of the most popular outdoor attractions in North Georgia, so here is a brief introduction to one of the best tourist treasures in the area.
A Brief History
Amicalola Falls State Park is one of the most popular outdoor attractions in North Georgia for good reason. The park is home to the tallest waterfall in Georgia, at an impressive 729 feet. Amicalola gets its name from the Cherokee term Um-ma-eololoa, which means tumbling waters. The Cherokee controlled the area until 1838, when the native people were moved out of the area and sent west on the Trail of Tears. In 1911, Georgia purchased the falls, and in 1940 it officially became a state park.
Adventures in the Park
Many people solely focus on seeing the waterfall and the view from the top when they visit, but the state park has so much more to offer! There are several trails within the 829 acres, including the approach trail to the 2189.2-mile Appalachian Trail. But don’t worry, the approach trail to Springer Mountain is only 16.1 miles (out and back).
Amicalola Falls State Park also offers a variety of adventures like zip-lining, fishing for rainbow trout at the base of the falls, and educational events with the park rangers! Several rehabilitated birds of prey call the park home, and handlers offer educational experiences to see the birds up close and personal.
The park has many places for visitors to stay for the weekend as well. From the exquisite lodge with a restaurant, to campsites and cabins near the top of the falls, to the Len Foote hike-inn lodge. The hike-inn lodge is only accessible by a 5 mile long trail, but you can grab a delicious bite to eat at the lodge, and wake up to beautiful sunrise views the next morning.
Hiking in the Park
This map of the trail system shows the many options you have to spend the day outside in the park. From easy paved trails with beautiful views, to strenuous uphill climbs, there is a trail for everyone.
The AT approach trail to Springer mountain marks the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. It is moderately difficult, and measures 16.1 miles out and back (starting from the Amicalola Falls visitor center). It is a good sampler to what thru-hikers experience on their 2,189.2 mile journey. But be prepared! The length and elevation change of the trail makes it a hardy day hike.
For a light and easy stroll, park in the first parking lot you reach on the drive to the top of the falls, and take the short, paved trail to a good viewing point of the falls. From that point, you can also take the stairs to the top of the waterfall.
If you want a good workout and see the entire length of the falls, you can start from the parking lot by the pond and hike the stairs (604 steps in total) to the top. The entire length of the stairs follows along the tumbling waters, but be prepared for a good workout! Wide open views of the Appalachian foothills await you at the top!
Fun all-year round!
Amicalola Falls is fun in any season. In the spring, beautiful wildflowers line the trails and it’s easy to catch a glimpse of wildlife before the leaves become too dense to see through. If you take a summer hike around the creek, you can cool down by wading in the chilly water. All of North Georgia is stunning during the fall, but Amicalola Falls is the epitome of fall beauty in the Appalachians. Even winter time has its own beauty to offer; on especially cold days, the waterfall turns to cascading ice.