Amicalola Falls State Park

Published: 12/16/15 11:15 AM in North America, State, Travel.

Located about an hour and a half outside of the city of Atlanta, Amicalola Falls State Park is one of the most popular state parks in Georgia. The primary reason for its popularity is the 729-foot tall waterfall that gives the park its name, Amicalola being a Cherokee word for “tumbling waters”. The falls are the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River, a fact that increases the popularity of this state park.

However, despite the beauty and magnitude of the falls, Amicalola Falls State Park is most famous for being the start of the Appalachian Trail. The official 2,190 miles of the Appalachian Trail stretch from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. However starting from the archway at Amicalola Falls, the AT Approach Trail is an 8-mile hike up to the official starting point on Springer Mountain. Kevin and I would later return to hike the AT Approach Trail and backcountry camp on Springer Mountain a few months later.

The archway at Amicalola Falls State Park that marks the southern starting point of the Appalachian Trail.

Meredith Lambert Banogon hikes up the Appalachian Approach Trail within Amicalola Falls State Park.

The view from the top of Amicalola Falls, the tallest waterfall southeast of the Mississippi River.

The water at Amicalola Falls before it rushes to fall down the waterfall.

There are 425 steps leading up to Amicalola Falls making it a strenuous climb to the top of the falls.

Our Hike Up to the Top of Amicalola Falls

During our trip to Amicalola Falls, Kevin and I decided to hike up to the top of the falls along the first mile of the Appalachian Trail Approach Trail. This trail leads you through the stone archway, up a series of switch backs and steadily uphill through mountain laurel thickets until you reach the parking lot at the top of the falls. From there we admired the view over the waterfall before making our way down the 425 stairs that take you around and over the falls.

The hike was a little rough in the heat of the summer since there were quite a few moments of complete exposure while hiking uphill. However, the view from the top makes the whole experience worth it. Making the hike up provided a much greater sense of accomplishment upon reaching the top than taking the stairs might have. Although I also felt that taking the stairs would have been ultimately more stressful on my poor knees.

Overall the hike was beautiful, and the waterfall was definitely worth the visit. There is a small pond at the base of Amicalola Falls where you can fish for trout. You can carry your own hiking fishing rod or rent fishing gear from the park office! My only wish was that we could have dunked our heads into the cool flowing waters for a bit of a respite from the heat.

The labyrinth of stairs leading up to the top of the waterfall at Amicalola Falls State Park.

The top portion of the waterfall at Amicalola Falls State Park during the spring in Georgia.

The bridge that takes you across the cascading water of Amicalola Falls, a perfect day trip out of Atlanta.

A detailed shot of the rocky features found at Amicalola Falls State Park in northern Georgia.

The full height of Amicalola Falls in northern Georgia is a sight to behold and provides a break from the city life of Atlanta.

Kevin Banogon stands in front of Amicalola Falls in northern Georgia during a day trip outside of Atlanta.

The lower falls at Amicalola Falls State Park are rocky and refreshing.

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