Amicalola Falls – Base of Falls Trail

October 13, 2010
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Amicalola Falls

Distance: 1.0 Miles (one way)

Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous

The Visitor’s Center to Amicalola Falls State Park is a great place to begin the approach to Georgia’s highest waterfall. While it is possible to drive very close to the falls and hike to the falls along the very short West Ridge Falls Access, hiking from the Visitor’s Center provides a more challenging hike, wonderful views of the entire state park and Little Amicalola Creek, and is the true beginning to the Appalachian Approach Trail to Springer Mountain.

To begin the trail, enter the Visitor’s Center (be sure to check out the live Georgia snake exhibit) and exit through the rear door of the center. Grab a map of the park on the way out too. After exiting, the hiker will immediately notice a large stone archway, and signs indicating the direction of Springer Mountain, Mount Katahdin, Maine, and the Amicalola Lodge.

Amicalola Falls - Appalachian Approach Amicalola Falls Appalachian Trail

The signs indicating the direction of the Base of Falls Trail is somewhat confusing. To begin the trail, do not go up the wooden steps, take an immediate left before the sign and the steps. Follow the blue blazes up the trail.

Amicalola Falls Amicalola Falls

Amicalola Falls

The Base of Falls Trail leads parallel to the Park Entrance road, beside several picnic shelters, and an amphitheater. The trail then crosses over a wooden walkway before crossing the road.

Amicalola Falls Amicalola Falls Amicalola Falls

After crossing the road, the trail then runs alongside Little Amicalola Creek.

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Amicalola Creek

Amicalola Creek

Continue along the trail to the left of the picnic shelter, over the creek, and around the ridge of the parking lot.

Amicalola Creek Amicalola Creek Amicalola Creek

Amicalola Falls IMG_1603 IMG_1607

You will arrive at the base of the Waterfall Trail which contains a beautiful reflection pool filled by Amicalola Creek, and surrounded by several informative signs about the wildlife in the area.

Amicalola

After enjoying the reflection pond, cross over the bridge and Amicalola Creek. From here, the real climb to the falls starts, and so do the best views. From here, the pathway is made up of a rough mixture of concrete, which provides great traction along a path that can be very slick with moisture.

Amicalola Falls Amicalola Amicalola Falls

Amicalola Amicalola Amicalola

Amicalola

IMG_1653

Amicalola Falls

Be aware, prior to reaching the falls there are two somewhat steep switchbacks. At the top of the first, a potentially wonderful view of the valley opens up. Unfortunately, on my last hike, there was a heavy fog, and the view is less than outstanding (although still enjoyable).

Amicalola Falls Amicalola Amicalola

Finally,  you reach the first observation deck, the Lower Observation Platform. From here, there is a beautiful first view of the falls.

Amicalola Falls

Amicalola Falls

Amicalola Falls

Amicalola Falls

Amicalola Falls

The views of the tallest drop of Amicalola falls, however, only gets better after you accept the “challenge” of the “175 Steps.”

Amicalola Falls Amicalola Falls

Up, up, and Up the stairs, and then finally, the Falls Overlook.

IMG_1719 Amicalola Falls Amicalola Falls

Amicalola Falls

Amicalola Falls

Don’t forget to turnaround and see the view of your hike.

Amicalola Falls

This marks the end of the Base of Falls Trail. For a different route back, I suggest the West Ridge Trail to the parking area, then crossing over the parking area to the Spring Trail. The Spring Trail will intersect with Creek Trail and Mt. Laurel Loop. Follow these trails back to the Visitor’s Center.

Nearby Trail

East Ridge Trail – 1.0 Miles

Creek Trail – 0.6 Miles

Spring Trail – 0.4 Miles

Mt. Laurel Loop – 1.0 Miles

Appalachian Approach Trail – 8.5 Miles

Hike Inn Trail – 5 miles

West Ridge Falls Access Trail – 0.3 Miles

Directions from Ellijay:

Follow GA-52 approximately 21 miles to Amicalola Falls State Park.

Directions from Dawsonville:

Take Hwy. 53 west to Hwy. 183 north to Hwy. 52 east.

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2 Responses to Amicalola Falls – Base of Falls Trail

  1. Outdoor Travel in the South | SouthernHiker on January 8, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    […] is a 186’ waterfall, one of Georgia’s tallest (though not the tallest, that honor belongs to Amicalola Falls). The Falls is, however, one of the best views of a freefalling waterfall one can […]

  2. Todd Travis on April 28, 2012 at 6:41 am

    Your explanations of how to access the falls and the AT are the best I’ve seen on the web! Finding a good map can also be cumbersome- Thanks for trekking the way for the rest of us fellow hikers!

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