Georgia is the peach state — however you’d like to interpret the slogan! From it being a peach, or great place to visit, to the delicious peach harvest every summer, visitors couldn’t have a better description. And along with those peaches, you’ll find landscapes from seacoast to mountain vistas that provide opportunities for all kinds of outdoor adventures, including two of my favorites: hiking and ziplines.
Deep Fried Peach Pie
Speaking of peaches, I’d never tried deep fried peach pie before visiting Georgia. As it turns out, it’s a Southern tradition with recipes being passed down through the generations. And I certainly found some delicious examples at Jaemor Farms, where they’ve been cultivating peaches for over a century. Every bite of my pie was sweet and delicious, from the crispy pastry to the still-warm home grown and cooked peach filling.
In fact, Jaemor Farms grows and sells over 30 different varieties of peaches. With a hundred acres of orchards and gardens, they also sell everything from blackberries to muscadines & scuppernongs (grapes, if you’re not familiar with the terms!) to local honey. Plus, they have a corn maze to end off the growing season. What could be more fun!
I found the name, Jaemor Farms, to be a title that acts like an umbrella over the many intriguing business endeavors I found on the premises. About half an hour out of Atlanta, this farmer’s market stop was my introduction to northeast Georgia.
Ziplines and Swinging Bridges
As well as discovering new things to eat, I like to pack a little daredevil into each of my trips if I can, as do many other travelers. So, I decided to try out an adventure with North Georgia Canopy Tours. It provided me with a chance to take 12 canopy zips through the trees, walk on two swinging bridges, and do a bit of rapelling with North Georgia Canopy Tours.
And while I like to take on a challenge that doesn’t always mean I’m fearless! As usual, I was somewhat nervous climbing into my gear and taking lessons from the friendly guides. Once we started into the thick coves of trees, though, with the lines and bridges overhead, I began to feel like I’d stepped into an episode of Tarzan and I was Jane!
So, what scared me the most? That longest darn swinging bridge that shimmied and shivered as I walked. And after that, the 695-foot dual zipline over the Hilltop Pond. It was not only a huge adrenaline rush, but also an amazing view over the water.
And what was the easiest? Rapelling. Maybe there’s hope for me as a mountain climber yet (not really!).
The Amicalola Falls are the feature attraction of Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia. William Williamson, a Georgia surveyor, wrote in his journals in 1832 that these falls were, “the most majestic Scene that I have ever witnessed.” And indeed, it was state librarian, Ella May Thornton, who added them to a list of seven natural wonders of Georgia published in the Atlanta Georgian magazine on December 26, 1926.
At the falls, you can watch water plummet 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 onlookers. If you want to get close enough to feel the splash and hear the steady drumming of water thrumming against the rocks, you can do that too.
Hiking Amicalola Falls
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. The mile-long East Ridge Trail that takes you right to the top of the falls is one of the most popular. 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 hiking trail 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 on the hiking trail 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 in Amicalola, the stand of trees simply parted to make way in an amazing spectacle. 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 of the trail, but I decided to head back to the Lodge where we were staying for what turned out to be a great dinner.
Amicalola Falls State Park
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. 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.
Pan for Gold at the Crisson Gold Mine
I love history, especially opportunities to experience it. So, I added a visit to the Crisson Gold Mine to my itinerary.
The gold mine opened waaaaay back in 1847, making it the oldest established gold mine in North Georgia. A school group was also visiting when I was there, so I got to shake my sluice pan alongside a dozen kids all in search of nuggets. They were surprisingly quiet, intent on taking home some treasure for the day. Well, until a couple of them came up with some gold nuggets for their work!
The site also had a lot of the old mining equipment to view. As well, it’s home to the only working stamp mill in Georgia. Wondering what a stamp mill does? Well, it pounds material to small bits instead of crushing it. You can see the 130 year-old mill running if you take the Stamp Mill Tour.
Check out Crisson Gold Mines yourself with this short YouTube video:
Plan Your Georgia Visit
See the Northeast Georgia Mountains Travel Association – https://www.georgiamountains.org/
Jaemor Farms – http://www.jaemorfarms.com/
North Georgia Canopy Tours – North Georgia Canopy Tours
Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge – https://www.amicalolafallslodge.com/
Crisson Gold Mine – https://www.crissongoldmine.com/
I was a guest of Northeast Georgia Mountains Travel Association when I visited these sites. Although I was hosted, I still retain full editorial freedom in my articles.
More Things to do in Georgia
About the Photo
The photo in the header above was taken by Linda Aksomitis at North Georgia Canopy Tours, Lula, Georgia, USA.
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