Amicalola Falls – Base Of The Appalachian Trail

Amicalola Falls – Base Of The Appalachian Trail

Hiking Amicalola Falls

…. In Georgia Near The Base Of The Appalachian Trail – The Hike Before The Hike!
By Sarah M Frank

When embarking on the over 2,100 mile trek of the Appalachian Trail, do not pass up the opportunity of a warm-up hike to Amicalola Falls. The Base of the Falls Trail is a 1 mile hike, just south of the Appalachian Trail, with views of a gorgeous waterfall that is considered one of the seven wonders of Georgia. This is a stunning hike and must not be missed as the climb reveals spectacular views, prevalent wildlife, and the calming sound of water crashing on rock that spurs you all the way to the top.

The falls are located in the Amicalola Falls State Park, 15 miles outside of Dawsonville, Georgia. The trail starts at the Visitor Center, and though it is not considered part of the approach to the Appalachian Trail, the climb is more rewarding and the landscape more beautiful. This hike is considered moderate, for the experienced hiker, and strenuous–yet doable–for those who enjoy an occasional hike from time to time. The hike starts off flat; then steadily moves towards an uphill climb. An enjoyable feature is the last several feet of the hike, which can only be taken by way of a wooden staircase. Here hikers alike stomp their way to the base of the falls where they are kissed with mist from the propelling water. A breezy spray is a welcome treat during a hard climb in the warmer months. Every fifty steps, or so, there is a convenient alcove, or deck, that juts out over the water, allowing for faster hikers to pass or families to take pictures of the beautiful scenery. The stairs end at the base of the falls where there is a bridge that allows hikers to walk across the creek to the other side. This is a nice resting place where the best pictures can be taken as you look up at the crashing falls before you. Once you cross over the bridge, the trail continues for another several feet to the top of the falls.

Amicalola FallsAt the top, the views of the Georgia valley below are incredible as you make your way to the wooden boardwalk where visitors are allowed to stand directly on the top of the falls. Peer over the rail and watch the rush of water tumble at your feet. Also up top, there is a picnic area with a vast field of green grass to throw a blanket on and enjoy a well deserved lunch. Conveniently, there are restrooms up top for use before hiking back down, which makes for an all around happy day. However, the fun does not have to stop there. If you want more of a climb, a hiker can continue on their journey and jump on the Appalachian Approach Trail to the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail and Springer Mountain. Just a quick scurry across the road and the blue marked trail will take hikers to the start of the Appalachian Trail. Whether you are hiking the falls to get the blood flowing to your legs for the big hike, or if you simply want a fun filled day outdoors, The Base of the Falls Trail to Amicalola Falls, though short, is a rewarding hike as visitors will enjoy seeing the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi.

Born and raised in California, Sarah Frank has traded beaches and now calls Florida her home. Like a true fan of Jack Kerouac, she has been on the road, skirting across states and finding ways to “make time to spend time” in foreign countries.

Earning a B.A. in English, certainly, hasn’t hurt her writing career as she spends her time between full-time freelance writing and working on her third novel. She pulls her topics from her myriad interests such as: travel, hikes, children and families, health, and healthy cooking.

Believing that writing is a calling rather than a choice, Sarah is continuing her drive to write and is always looking for the next project to indulge in.

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Amicalola Falls – the approach trail to the Appalachian Trail, from the Lilly Pad Village

Turn left onto Aska Rd. Go to very end (5.8 Miles)
Turn right onto Newport Rd. and go to very end (4.2 Miles)
Turn right onto Doublehead Gap Rd.
In about 4.11 miles turn slight left onto Roy Rd.
In 1.60 turn right onto Lowman Rd.
Lowman Rd is 0.7 miles past E New Hope Rd
If you reach Quill Cir you’ve gone about 0.6 miles too far.
In 0.70 miles miles turn left to stay on Lowman Rd.
If you reach the end of Twiggs Dr you’ve gone a little too far
In 0.30 miles turn slight right onto Roy Rd.
In 1.60 miles turn left onto Southern Rd.
In 2.54 miles turn left to stay on Southern Rd.
In 1.37 miles turn sharp left onto Highway 52 E/GA-52. You will be on 52 for 6.3 miles.
Keep left at the fork to go on Highway 52GA/52 for 1.6 miles.
Turn left onto Amicalola Falls State Park Rd. drive .36 miles
Amicalola Falls State Park Rd is 0.4 miles past Sign Board Gap Rd
If you reach Shady Fern Trl. you’ve gone about 0.1 miles too far
Amicalola Falls State Park, 240 AMICALOLA FALLS STATE PARK RD.
Your destination is just past Top of the Falls Rd

Springer Mountain – On The A.T.

Springer Mountain – On The A.T.

Springer Mountain.

Springer Mountain is the South Terminus of the very popular Appalachian Trail. If you are looking for a quick, not so strenuous and very fulfilling little hike, you should add this to your thinks to do in Blue Ridge, GA. The hike itself is just shy of one mile to the top and the same back to the parking. You will be hiking close to a 1000 feet in elevation, so might want o take it easy on the way up. The summit is very beautiful with spectacular views, especially on a clear day. Take a picture with the AT plaque, sign your name into the log book and meet all kinds of interesting people, especially in April, when most thru hikers start on their 2180 mile hike to Main.

If in the area, you might want to stop at Long Creek Falls – a wonderful and pleasant waterfall hike in Blue Ridge.

 

Springer Mountain Directions from the Lilly Pad Village:

  • From the Lilly Pad go around the pond and take a left on Aska Road.
  • Take Aska to the very end (about 6 miles) until it dead ends into Newport.
  • Take a right onto Newport.
  • Take Newport to the very end, until it dead ends into Double Head Gap. (About 4 miles)
  • Take a right on DHG.
  • In about a mile and a half you will see a large church on your right – right across the church, on your left, there is F.S. 42 – take a left onto 42 (a gravel/dirt road.)
  • Drive 6.5 miles until you see the parking lot on your left. Drive slow as the road has fairly deep holes.
  • Once you park, you will see the AT Trail Blazer (A white vertical rectangle).
  • Follow the Trail Blazer (the A.T.) south until you reach the summit.

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After or before your great hike to Springer Mountain, spend some time at the Lilly Pad Village and try your luck in gem mining or fishing on the Lilly Pond. Guided Hiking Around Blue Ridge, GA

Ask us about a great loop hike around Springer Mountain (that is if you feel a bit more adventurous)

Swinging Bridge On The Toccoa River

Swinging Bridge On The Toccoa River

Warning!

The road leading up to the Swinging Bridge (F.S. 816) is in pretty bad shape, so do not attempt the trip with a small car. No need for four-wheel drive but cars that sit low to the ground will have issues. You may of course park at HWY 60 and hike all the way to the bridge (seven miles round trip.)

Swinging Bridge | Blue Ridge, GA

The Swinging Bridge is perhaps the easiest, shortest yet most beautiful little hikes near Blue Ridge. Being close to the Lilly pad Village, we do send many families to enjoy this amazing suspension bridge (the longest east of Mississippi). As mentioned, your hike to the Swinging Bridge is only 0.2 miles – very easy walking.The drive to the bridge will take you along (3.5 miles) on a Forest Service Road – dirt road that can on occasions be a bit rough. The short walk will take you to the Toccoa River. Whether you cross the bridge or stay on the approach side, there is lot to see.

I have many times hiked out to this destination, and spent hours just enjoying the soothing sound of the rushing waters of the Toccoa River – I have been known on occasions to take a little nap also.If you cross the bridge, you will get to a beautiful little creek where the surrounding trees offer some wonderful shady spot.

The trail is actually art of the Benton MacKaye trail system. If you continue hiking south from the swinging Bridge, your fairly strenuous walk shall take you to Long Creek Falls (I have done this hike many times and it is not recommended to novices). Hiking north from the Swinging Bridge, you will eventually end up by the Lilly Pad Village after which the trail continues to Fall Branch Falls.

Directions To Swinging Bridge

The Swinging Bridge is a popular destination for day-hikers, Benton MacKaye Trail through hikers, and paddlers making the journey down the Toccoa River Canoe Trail is the swinging bridge over the Toccoa River. This 270 foot long bridge is the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi River.

The bridge over the Toccoa River is located on the Benton MacKaye Trail and the Duncan Ridge National Recreation Trail in Fannin County. It was built by the USDA Forest Service in cooperation with the Appalachian Trail Club in 1977, when extension of the Blue Ridge Parkway to Kennesaw Mountain was under consideration.

Directions from the Lilly Pad:

  • Take a left on Aska Road
  • Take Aska to the very end – 6 miles.
  • Take a left on to Newport
  • Take Newport to the very end where dead ends on to Dial
  • Take a right on to Dial
  • Take Dial to the very end where it dead ends into HWY 60
  • Take a right on HWY 60
  • Drive exactly 1.4 miles
  • You will see a gravel road on right, called Forest Service Road 826. There is a sign to the right here to the Swinging Bridge
  • Take a right on FS 816 and take this road for 3.5 miles, until it will dead end into parking are.
  • Park and take the short hike (0.2 miles) to your destination.
Long Creek Falls Directions

Long Creek Falls Directions

Blue Ridge Waterfalls – Long Creek Falls

Long Creek Falls is perhaps the prettiest of Blue Ridge Waterfalls. Fall Branch Falls is second in line – just depending on how far you are willing to drive and what your expectations are as far as the length of a waterfall hike, level of difficulty and your sense of adventure.

Long Creek Falls is a leisurely two mile hike (one mile there and one mile back). Your enjoyment will start as soon as you get on to F.S. 58 – spectacular views of Nontootla Creek along side the road. Your drive might be slow spaced – not because of the road, although can be slightly challenging after a strong rain – but because of the views. The trail will intersect F.S. 58 at an area called Three Forks, because of three beautiful creeks that join there to form Nontootla Creek. Hiking will lead you along a section of the Appalachian Trail and the Benton MacKaye Trail where both trails use the same foot path – just look for the white diamond and white rectangle blazers. The views are spectacular and the hike is cool, especially once you get to the vicinity of the waterfall. There are a number of spectacular little waterfalls on the way, which are fairly difficult to access. Take your time and wait until you complete the mile.

Directions from Blue Ridge:

To get to Long Creek falls from Blue Ridge Take GA Hwy. 515 .8 mile east to Windy Ridge Road. Turn right and go .2 mile to the dead end with Old US Hwy. 76. Turn left, go .2 miles to Aska Rd. Turn right and go 13.5 miles to the end of the road. Turn right on Newport Road, go 4.5 miles. Turn left onto Doublehead Gap Road, and continue .8 mile to the intersection with USFS Road 58 on the right. Turn onto USFS 58 and go 5.3 miles to Three Forks. Noontootla Creek, a great trout stream is on your right as you go up the hill.

Directions from the Lilly Pad:

  • Go south on Aska (take a left when you leave the Lilly Pad)
  • Go to the end (6 miles)
  • Take a right on to Newport
  • Take Newport to the end (4.5 miles)
  • Turn left on Double Head Gap
  • Road will turn gravel
  • Pass church on left and at the next three way fork take a right on to Forest Service Road 58
  • Drive 5.5 miles on 58
  • You will see the road widen to allow for parking
  • Park, and hike on the Appalachian Trail/Benton McKaye trail to your LEFT. Do NOT hike to the right even though at this point it looks prettier 🙂
  • Walk about one mile, at which point the AT and BMT will part ways. There is a sign at this point towards the waterfall.
  • Enjoy the hike and scenery.
Fall Branch Falls

Fall Branch Falls

Fall Branch Falls

Fall Branch Falls is a beautiful little waterfall close to Blue Ridge and certainly close to the Lilly Pad Village. Only a few miles away by car, this short, 0.2 mile hike is great for small kids, elderly people and of course adults. The trail is part of the Benton MacKaye trail system, blazed with the white diamonds painted on trees along the way. Great photo opportunities both at the bottom and at the top of Fall Branch Falls. The hike to the waterfall is slightly up-hill, but as said previously, only a short 2/10ths of a mile. Beautifully shaded and fairly cool even during the summer months. Best hiked early mornings or late afternoons.

The Benton MacKaye Trail (BMT) is a footpath of nearly 300 miles (480 km) through the Appalachian mountains of the southeastern United States. It is designed for foot travel in the tradition of the Appalachian Trail (AT) It is blazed with the above mentioned white diamonds – Fall Branch Falls is only a very short section of the trail that starts at Springer Mountain (also the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail) and continues to the Great Smokey Mountains.

Directions from the Lilly Pad Village

  • Take a left on Aska Road
  • In half a mile you will see the Toccoa Riverside Restaurant
  • Turn right onto Stanley Creek Road.
  • Continue driving on the paved road) three to four miles)
  • When the road turns gravel (see a number of dilapidated building) drive 0.2 Miles. There is a field on your left.
  • When you get back into the tree line park
  • Trail will be on your right – marked by a white diamond painted on the tree,
  • The hike is about 2/10th of a mile.
  • Enjoy.

When finished hiking Fall Branch Falls, why don’t you stop at the Lilly Pad Village and have some fun gem mining or trying your luck fishing on Lilly Pond! If you are not sure of your directions, please stop by before your hike and we’ll be glad to provide verbal directions.