Amicalola Falls was established as a State Park in 1940. Located in the Blue Ridge mountains, it encompasses 829 acres, and is one of the largest in the state’s park system. Its namesake waterfalls are the tallest east of the Mississippi at 729 feet. It is also where the approach trail to Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, begins. Despite being owned by the State of Georgia, and classified as one of Georgia’s 47 State Parks, the management and control of Amicalola has been privatized, and it is now administered by a corporation called Coral Hospitality.
This area is primarily forest hardwood, including several varieties of oak and pine. It’s a native habitat to plants such as bloodroot and pink lady slipper, and home to many types of wildlife, including black bear, tanagers, and wild boar. In addition to the Springer Mountain approach trail, and the 604 “Stairs of Death” leading up to the Falls, the park offers 8 other miles of hiking trails, and a variety of paid recreational activities such as ziplining and survivalist camps. There is a full range of accommodation options, from tent camping to a lodge. The park also operates the Hike Inn, accessible only by a 5-mile trail.
I visited Amicalola in April 2017, dropping RaggedyCrow off there to begin his AT attempt. Unfortunately, because I was sick, and it happened to start pouring rain shortly after arrival, I didn’t get to see much of the park past the Visitor Center, behind which is the AT approach trailhead.
A Georgia State Park Pass is required for entry. Day passes are available at the park entrance for $5. Fees vary within the park depending on the activity. The Visitor Center is open from 9a-5p Sunday – Wednesday, and 9a-7p Thursday – Saturday. Aspiring northbound Appalachian Trail thru-hikers will likely get to sign their first trail register at the approach trailhead and visit with volunteers from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy who offer trail tips and education on Leave No Trace principles.
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