I watch as water plummets more than four times the height of Niagara Falls over a craggy rock face for 729 feet.
Water splashes and churns, widening the path it cuts as it roars towards me.
I wanted to get close enough to the falls to feel the splash of water and hear the steady drumming of water thrumming against the rocks.
That meant a hike from the Visitor Center at Amicalola Falls State Park—at least a short one—through the newly green spring forest that was lush and thick with plant life.
There are a number of trails within the park, including the mile-long East Ridge Trail that takes you right to the top of the falls. I’d have loved to complete that hike—even with its steep challenges—but I’d arrived too late in the day to start.
Instead, I took the West Ridge Staircase for the best view of the falls from below. At first the only sounds were bird calls and humming insects, but they were soon replaced with the sounds of water that grew ever closer.
I had no argument with the sign that told me the 425 steps were a strenuous climb, but I’d expected that considering the steepness the falls.
By the midway platform I was out of both breath and energy, although some of the breathlessness may have been due to the spectacular sight of water rushing at me from what appeared to be just a narrow break in the forest above.
Most of the waterfalls I’ve seen are born in rock and stay in rock, but here in Amicalola, the stand of trees simply parted to make way.
Of course it took a while to get all the photos I wanted! By the time I finished, other hikers had started to climb nearly two-hundred more steps to the top, but I decided to head back to the Lodge for what turned out to be a great dinner.
In addition to nature’s wonders, I also discovered an amazing eco-wonder on my hike around the Visitor Center, and wherever there wasn’t a boardwalk on the hike.
The walks are paved, not with cement or asphalt, or any other surface I was familiar with, but with approximately 1300 recycled rubber industrial tires that had been ground and colored. This spongy surface provided an excellent walking surface, while also contributing to the 3 Rs of reduce, reuse and recycle to help save the planet.
Amicalola Falls State Park
The Amicalola Falls are the feature attraction of the area now known as Amicalola Falls State Park. William Williamson, a Georgia surveyor, wrote in his journals in 1832 that these falls were, “the most majestic Scene that I have ever witnessed.”
Settlers arrived in Amicalola soon after Williamson’s discovery, and where the Visitor Center sits today, Bartley Crane opened a grist mill in 1852.
In the 1860s arriving settlers used the stunning vista for a Methodist-Episcopal campground where they held revivals.
The state of Georgia purchased the land from the Crane family, and added it to the park system in 1940. At that time it had 407 acres with the falls being the focal point.
Further development, particularly after the start of the Appalachian Trail was moved to Springer Mountain in 1958, helped the park to grow to its current size of 829 acres.
Amicalola Falls State Park is one of Georgia’s most popular parks with its 12 miles of hiking trails, all at a number of different levels.
A group shelter and picnic area make it great for day trips, while there are also very comfortable overnight accommodations at the Lodge and Conference Center where I stayed, or at the cabins (at the bottom or top of the falls). Facilities are available for trailers, RVs and tents.
The mountain-view restaurant, visitor center and gift shop are also popular with visitors.