If you visit north Georgia, you cannot miss Tallulah Gorge, a stunning and popular geologic landmark and the namesake of this gorgeous state park. Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains with an average of 300,000 visitors a year, less than 10% of the US population has had the pleasure of viewing these breathtaking views.Spanning two miles in length, the Tallulah Gorge carves 1,000 feet deep into sheer rock walls thanks to the turbulent flow of the Tallulah River. This same river is responsible for the majestic Tallulah Falls made up of six cascading waterfalls dropping 500 feet over one mile which cradle the Georgia-South Carolina state line.
Although the namesake attraction is a sight in itself, there is plenty more to see and explore at Tallulah Gorge State Park. The varied terrain offers over 15 miles of trails in varying degrees of difficulty to meet every hiking ability, whether it be leisurely enjoyment of the landscape or testing one’s hiking limits. The views are equally amazing during any time of year but like anything else, you’ll have to be conscious of seasonal challenges, both in terms of weather and general logistics.
While at the Park, be sure to use the Tallulah Gorge Interpretive Center as your activity launching pad. In addition to providing general information and gift store items, it is also where you can obtain your free Gorge floor pass. The Park takes its natural resources seriously and takes careful measures to ensure its preservation through a strict permitting system to the Gorge’s floor. While the majority of the park is available for self-guided exploration on marked trails, permits are required for trails to the gorge floor and the more remote and difficult trails. Be sure to sign up for your free gorge permit early in the day as the Park only issues 100 per day and these can run out quickly. As always, make sure to check the weather during your scheduled travel dates as large amounts of water flow and other weather-restricting conditions prohibit the issuance of permits.
If you are unable to visit the Gorge floor—or it leaves you wanting for more—a trip to the Hurricane Falls Loop Trail will fulfill your need for scenic beauty and challenging hiking. The Center also serves as the beginning of the Hurricane Falls Loop Trail which spoils hikers with a recycled-rubber-paved trail beginning, before a dizzying descend in elevation along the North Rim Trail to the suspension bridge crossing the river. If the steep hike doesn’t leave you breathless, the view from the bridge surely will. Along the way, you’ll enjoy views of the waterfalls while traversing through a variety of paths including mulched trail, boardwalks, pavement and metal staircases until you eventually reach the impressive Hurricane Falls.
If you still have energy, time, and air left in your lungs after this trek, be sure to check out the other waterfalls, or go into town and support the Tallulah Falls local businesses.