As far as a hiker is concerned, Amicalola could be Cherokee for hiking instead of "Tumbling Waters" (its actual meaning). This almost 1,000 acre park features 12 miles of completely integrated trails that can form a number of loop trails, and is the start (or end, depending on how you look at it) of the 2,108 mile Appalachian Trail. In addition to camping and a lodge, Amicalola Falls manages the "Hike Inn", a hiker's lodge that requires a 5-mile trek.
About the park
The first written account of the falls, by William Williamson as he explored the Cherokee Nation in anticipation of Georgia's Sixth Land Lottery includes dramatic testimony to the difficulty of the climb. Halfway up he quit.
The land was divided and given to settlers that year. Three years later Andy Jackson's administration negotiated the corrupt Treaty of New Echota, finally forcing the Cherokee from their land illegally in 1838 in an episode now known as the Trail of Tears (another Trail of Tears page)
So rugged and remote was the land in the vicinity of the falls that even the hardy settlers who pushed west did not stay here. Deep inside the valley a Cherokee woman lived until the 1850's, known only to nearby settlers.
Although the tallest falls east of the Mississippi, the park was not developed until the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club needed a new terminus to the Appalachian Trail in the 1950's. The old trail to Mount Oglethorpe had been repeatedly bisected and threatened by commercial development. Springer Mountain seemed like the perfect place to create a new end to the footpath that connected America's East Coast. Amicalola Falls State Park was created to give hikers a starting point near a major road.
About the trails
There are four distinct groups of trails in Amicalola Falls State Park, the Amicalola Falls West Ridge complex, the East Ridge Trail, the Amicalola Falls Trail (including the Base of the Falls Trail), and a trail from the falls to Amicalola Lodge that includes an interpreted loop with scenic views. Leaving from behind the falls, the Southern Terminus Approach Trail allows hikers to get to the start of the Appalachian Trail.
Len Foote Hike Inn
The trail to the Len Foote "Hike Inn," begins within the boundaries of Amicalola Falls State Park, actually sharing the footpath with Southern Terminus Trail. Shortly it diverges, following an interpreted trail through a unique hiking experience. The inn is run by the state of Georgia with the assistance of volunteers from the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club and the Friends of Hike Inn. The inn is only accessible by foot and requires a five-mile hike.
Rangers at Amicalola Falls State Park stay busy, that's for sure. Whether its' a hot summer day or freezing cold in the winter, there always seems to be something going on here...nature hikes, informative sessions on trail hazards such as snakes, or discussions about the Cherokee Indians and settlers. If you are camping here or just visiting, we strongly recommend taking in at least one of the scheduled interpretive sessions while in the park.
Dahlonega Gold Museum - originally the Dahlonega Court House, the Gold Museum chronicles the 1829 Georgia Gold Rush, first true "rush" in the nation.
Appalachian Trail in Georgia - From the park the 8.4 mile Southern Terminus Approach Trail takes hikers to Springer Mountain at the start (or end) of the Appalachian Trail
North Georgia Premium Outlet Mall - Stop here and get some great bargains (as hikers, we especially love the Timberland Outlet Shop!)
Georgia Apple Festival (Oct.)
Burt's Pumpkin Farm (Fall)
Amicalola Falls State Park from About North Georgia
How to get there
A quicker alternate is to continue north to Ellijay and take S. R. 52 east. The park is on the left after the intersection with SR 186.
For those close to GA 400, take it north to S.R. 183, the Elliott Family Highway. Turn left on SR 183 and continue to the intersection with SR 52. Turn right on S.R. 52. The park is about a mile on the left.
Address: Amicalola Falls State Park,
418 Amicalola Falls Lodge Road,
Dawsonville, Georgia, 30534
Take a day to visit one of these national, state or local parks in the state of Georgia
Amicalola Falls State Park
Amicalola Falls Trail
Amicalola Falls West Ridge
Appalachian Trail in Georgia
Burt's Pumpkin Farm
Dahlonega Gold Museum
Georgia Apple Festival
North Georgia Premium Outlet Mall
Southern Terminus Approach Trail