|Trail Length: 2.5 miles||Type of trail: Loop|
|County: Rabun County, GA, Habersham County, GA||Our rating: Moderate|
|Features: waterfalls, visitors center, scenic, river, picnicking, lake, historic, family, craft shop, camping, bathrooms||Your rating:|
|Usage: Medium||Added on: October 10, 2005|
|Last hiked: May 08, 2011||Updated on: June 16, 2011|
|About these ratings|
Hiking trails in Rabun County, GA
Hiking trails in Habersham County, GA
The Tallulah Gorge Loop Trail is known under a variety of names, most popularly as the Tallulah Gorge Rim Trail, its name before the two sides of the gorge were connected with a bridge across the gorge at Hurricane Falls. The bridge adds a level of difficulty to trail. We rated the Rim Trail as easy, now we rate the Loop Trail as moderate.
Tallulah Gorge State Park
The Tallulah Gorge Loop Trail is entirely contained in Tallulah Gorge State Park.
|Dramatic 96-foot drop of Hurricane Falls on the floor of Tallulah Gorge|
Beautiful Tallulah Gorge. It was Georgia's first tourist attraction, dating back to the early 1800's. Kids from the University of Georgia in Athens would ride a buggy to the gorge, spend a night in a local home, hike along the gorge floor, then return to Athens the following day. By the 1850's a substantial tourism business had blossomed. Following the Civil War, the addition of the Atlanta & Richmond Air-Line Railway brought tourists to Cornelia where they could rent a buggy and journey over rough dirt roads to the city of Tallulah Falls and Tallulah Gorge.
In 1882 the Blue Ridge and Atlantic Railroad (later the Tallulah Falls Railway) reached Tallulah Falls (another good page - Tallulah Falls Railway) Although the railroad was never a money-maker, it made the falls accessible to thousands every year, and plush resorts developed in the small town. Then, in 1913 Georgia Power dammed the river to create power for Atlanta. As the railroad faded in the 1950's, Stuckey's built a shop along Highway 441 with a view of the gorge. In 1961 rail service ended.
In 1993 Tallulah Gorge State Park was created via a unique agreement between Georgia Power and the state of Georgia. The state built trails on the North Rim and the South Rim, connected by old roadbed across the dam. Later, kayakers and hiking enthusiasts were allowed access to the gorge floor by permit. The most recent addition is the swinging bridge over Hurricane Falls and elimination of the pedestrian crosswalk over U. S. 441 creating a wonderful loop trail around the gorge.
The hike begins on the bottom floor Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center, a must see on any trip to Tallulah Gorge. As a alternate, you can begin your hike in the parking lot and see the center at the end of the hike instead of the beginning, which is the way this narrative is told. From the parking lot, a wood chip trail enters the woods about 100 feet towards the cars from the Center. Descending easily to an interpretive sign, turn left on a rubberized trail made from old tires. At the end of the rubber tire path turn left to Overlook 1 on the North Rim Trail (one of the many names this trail has known). Following a wide road at first, the path becomes a set of wooden steps that turns right and drops to a bridge over a small creek. The creek forms a beautiful series of waterfalls visible from the other side of the gorge.
On a small knoll above the path to the left is a metal tower, laying on its side. This was the tower used by Karl Wallenda when he crossed Tallulah Gorge on a tightrope on July 18, 1970. More than 34,000 feet of wire would be used to anchor the 1,000 foot "tightrope" (it was actually heavy gauge wire) to the rock walls of the gorge. As you step out to the overlook, the stunning, 180 degree panorama of Tallulah Gorge comes into view.
Return to the intersection with the trail to the Yarn Center and shortly bear left, to Overlook 2 and 3, both with additional stunning panoramas of the gorge. From Overlook 2 begin to descend the 375 steps to the suspension bridge deep in Tallulah Gorge. This recent addition crosses the gorge above the 96 foot tall Hurricane Falls and allows access to the permit-only Gorge Floor Trail. Before the bridge a short side trail takes you to the top of Hurricane Falls, while the longer, 200-step drop to the base of the falls comes after the bridge.
As you come out of the gorge, turn left to visit overlooks 8, 8 and 10. About 0.1 miles after joining the South Rim Trail A dirt road climbs to a series of electric towers that leads to the south-side tower for the Wallenda walk. If you want to see the tower, it adds 0.4 miles to the hike. At overlook 8 note the old stone steps on the right. This is the old path that comes out at overlook 10. After overlook 9 a small grotto has been built with a stone bench that offers a cool respite for hikers. At overlook 10 the Sliding Rock Trail continues straight ahead as the pathway curves left to the overlook. Hiking this trail, which is strenuous, adds 0.8 miles to the hike. The trail ends at Ladore("L'eau d'or") Falls. This trail is dangerous, especially after a rain, so be certain to follow any requirements for the hike.
Follow the South Rim Trail up to the Cherokee Overlook (Overlook 6). From here excellent long-distance views down the gorge abound. Turn around and leave the pavilion along the path directly opposite the viewing area. This quickly leads to cement embankment of U. S. 441 that has been artistically enhanced by local schoolchildren. This path comes around and climbs to the road (ignore a right hand turn just before the roadway). Turn right and cross the bridge. Turn right again, down a set of stairs and bear left on the trail to the Yarn Center. Additional overlooks give hikes more scenic panoramas.