Tallulah Gorge State Park, Georgia
OK, you've peered down into Tallulah Gorge from the Tallulah Point Overlook tourist trap, and got a taste of what to expect. But now, you want to see more. Drive into the town of Tallulah Falls, and stop at Tallulah Gorge State Park.
Tallulah Gorge State Park is located in the middle of the town of Tallulah Falls. If you're approaching from the south on US 441, you'll cross the Tallulah River on a bridge that's right next to the dam. The park's parking area is on the north end of the bridge.
Tallulah Gorge roared with whitewater until the past 100 years or so. In 1912 the Tallulah River was dammed, severely restricting its flow, and dramatically changing the gorge's appearance. In the 1990's, conservation groups (as well as whitewater enthusiasts) successfully lobbied for several "release days" a year, when the flood gates are opened, and the Tallulah River once again flows with a mighty roar. The town of Tallulah Falls updates these "release days" on its website, so you can plan your visit around a dramatic release.
To view the gorge, you'll want to take the south trail (the north trail runs along the lake, on the other side of the dam). For the most part, the trail is level, but you will have to climb a few stairs.
There are five viewpoints along the trail. One of the first provides this view of the dam, and US Hwy. 441.
After about a half mile of hiking, the final two viewpoints provide a great view of some of the gorge's waterfalls. They're a bit far away...
... so you'll need to zoom in with your camera lens or binoculars.
Tallulah Gorge is nearly 1,000 feet deep. Over the course of one mile, the river drops 500 feet.
For a better view, consider descending several hundred stairs to the bottom of the gorge, where a swinging bridge awaits. It's about 600 steps down, and another 600 back up, so be prepared for weak knees. Also worth noting: if you want to depart from the staircase and bridge, and walk on down to the water's edge, you'll need to obtain a permit. Only 100 are issued per day, and access may be restricted on "release days".
Tallulah Gorge was once named the "Niagara of the South", and drew a tremendous number of tourists every year, at least until the early 1900's, when Georgia Railway and Power began damming the river.
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