Amicalola Falls: Everything You Need To Know About Hiking the Beautiful Falls

Ask me the “must-see” attraction in my neck of the woods, and I’ll tell you it’s Amicalola Falls.  Amicalola Falls is a popular state park and is part of the Georgia State Parks system with the third highest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River. It’s located in the North Georgia mountains within the Chattahoochee National Forest and is where the Appalachian Trail begins.

There are several different ways to enjoy seeing the falls, and there is even more to do at the state park. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Amicalola Falls!

HIKE AMICALOLA FALLS STATE PARK WITH YOUNG CHILDREN

AMICALOLA FALLS: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HIKING THE BEAUTIFUL FALLS

If you want to hike to see Amicalola Falls, you can start at the bottom, the top, or the middle.  If you have little ones (like me), then I recommend parking at the West Ridge Access Trail and making this middle section your starting point.  You’ll follow the paved path to the bridge overlooking the falls (it’s only .3 miles to the bridge.) This is a fantastic view!

If you are up for it, take the blue blazed trail down 165 stairs, and a total of 1 mile; this trail leads to a reflection pool at the base of the falls.  It will follow the creek almost the entire way, with great places to play in the water and see the beautiful views of rhododendron and other native flora. I did it with my 5-year-old and the toddler in a sling.  I’m not going to say that was “easy,” but it was very doable. I’d do it again without hesitation.

With older kids, this is a no-brainer.  You might even venture UP from the middle bridge. A little over 400 stairs takes you to the top of the falls where you’ll find the Amicalola Falls Lodge where you cool off in the heat of the summer.  The faint-of-heart (or faint-of-breath) can also drive to the top for gorgeous views.

Don’t have young kids? Read on for Sue’s experience with tweens and teens.

HIKE AMICALOLA FALLS STATE PARK WITH TWEENS AND TEENS

Amicalola Falls State Park

Sue tackled the entire climb from bottom to top with tweens. They conquered the 620 steps to the summit – 175 to the viewing area and then another 445 to the top.

The hiking trails aren’t too bad and there were lots of places to rest along the way if needed. The tumbling water of the falls are beautiful and look like icicles falling down the mountain. The top affords a gorgeous view of the valley below.

ACCOMMODATIONS AT AMICALOLA FALLS STATE PARK

Amicalola Falls: Everything You Need To Know About Hiking the Beautiful Falls

AMICALOLA FALLS STATE PARK LODGE

While you are at the top of the mountain, stop into the Amicalola Lodge for a view of the enormous fireplace and vista view through the picture window.  The porch out back has wooden rocking chairs that call your name! There is also the Cascades Restaurant (formerly Maple Restaurant), a full-service restaurant at the Amicalola Falls State Park Lodge that is known for its Sunday brunch.

Have lunch at the lodge, or take a picnic at the reflection pool at the base of the falls. The Visitor Center is a fun stop for kids.

Stay Here: Amicalola Lodge

AMICALOLA FALLS CAMPING AND COTTAGES

There is also camping and cottages (two of which are dog friendly).  Sue visited the park with her older boys and camped, enjoying a typical evening of roasted hot dogs, s’mores and enough extra toasted marshmallows to build a Stay Puff Marshmallow Man. 

There are 24 camping sites at Amicalola Falls State Park and 15 cottages, plus some very special accommodations (see below).

Read More: GEORGIA STATE PARKS CAMPING: 52+ ESSENTIAL THINGS TO KNOW

GLAMPING

In addition to typical campsites, Amicalola Falls State Park is also home to glamping sites as well!

Amicalola Falls offers four safari tents to make your stay here even more memorable. These safari tents feature beds, AC and heat, ceiling fans, electrical outlets, a mini fridge, coffee maker, and are beautifully decorated. In addition to all the fun on the inside, outside you’ll find a camping hammock, camping chairs, a fire ring, a grill, string lights, and a picnic table. All you need to do is show up!

Choose either a deluxe safari tent that includes a king bed and two bunk beds, or a double site that includes two queen beds.

Read More: GLAMPING GEORGIA: 18+ MOST UNIQUE PLACES TO ESCAPE

LEN FOOTE HIKE INN

In addition to camping and rooms at the Amicalola Lodge, there is another unique lodging option called the Len Foote Hike Inn. The only way to reach the inn is on foot. It’s five miles of great hiking to Len Foote Inn, which is fairly rustic, but stunningly beautiful.

Read about our trip (with LOTS of pictures) here. Also, the first bit of the trail (1 mile??) is both a trail for the Hike Inn, and the Appalachian connector approach trail that leads to Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the AT. Kinda cool.

Read More: “HIKE INN” TO THIS EPIC FALL DESTINATION PERFECT FOR OUTDOOR FAMILIES

RANGER PROGRAMS AT AMICALOLA STATE PARK

Amicalola Falls State Park

Be sure to check the calendar before heading out to Amicalola Falls to see what Ranger programs are available during your visit.  We attended a ranger talk once, featuring several owls.  It was informative and fun, and the kids loved it.  They also have programs on hiking, snakes, and more. In addition to the ranger program, there is a playground, and geocaching….enough to keep you busy all day!

Sue’s trip included a Ranger-led creek walk. Before the walk they explored the snakes in the visitor’s center, even touching one slithering through a volunteer’s shirt before grabbing the nets provided and heading to the creek. Nets are a great thing to bring with you on a trip to any of the state parks in GA. Kids love splashing around in the water and trying to catch little critters. 

As soon as Sue’s group reached the creek, they noticed a native snake sunning on a log. Not to disturb him, the group moved a bit farther down the creek. A Park Ranger accompanied the group and immediately sent everyone out to find crawfish, water sliders and more.

All the kids (and adults) had a blast getting wet and dirty and seeing who could find the biggest crawfish.

WANT TO HIKE MORE?

Amicalola Falls: Everything You Need To Know About Hiking the Beautiful Falls

We mentioned that Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge is where the Appalachian Trails Stone Archway marks the start of the Appalachian Trail. Hike from the crest of Amicalola Falls Park to Springer Mountain.

This 15.5-mile roundtrip makes for a challenging day hike, an even better overnight backpacking adventure, or the ultimate start to a thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail to Maine.

Read More: BELOVED SPRINGER MOUNTAIN TRAIL OFFERS ADVENTURE FOR EVERY AGE

ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES AT AMICALOLA FALLS STATE PARK

Amicalola Falls State Park zip line

In addition to all the fun ranger-led activities and experiences you can participate in at the park, Amicalola Falls also has a couple extra Adventure Activities the whole family will enjoy.

Take an Archery Fundamentals class and learn the basics of using a compound bow. For two hours, you can practice your bow and arrow skills by taking shots at the 3D targets at their outdoor range. Equipment is provided, or you can bring your own. Advanced reservations are required, and kids must be at least 8 years old.

Another great experience is ziplining at Amicalola! You can find the ziplining near the Lodge at Amicalola Falls. You’ll soar through the trees and enjoy the park from a different perspective.

You’ll find three different levels here, so you can choose what works best for your group. Level 1 is perfect for younger zippers and is the perfect intro to zip lining. Kids and adults 8+ can walk across a suspension bridge and enjoy four zip lines on this level.

Level 2 includes Level 1 plus more zip lines, for nine in all. The zip lines range from 75 feet to 1000 feet in length, and heights range from 20 to 100 feet in the air! 

Level 3 is for ages 10+ and includes everything from Levels 1 & 2, plus an additional seven zip lines, with the longest being 2,000 ft and 3 bridges, and the highest point being 250 feet in the air! This level’s zip lines will take you through areas of the park even hikers can’t see.

Stay Here: Amicalola Lodge

MORE FUN NEAR AMICALOLA FALLS STATE PARK

Amicalola Falls: Everything You Need To Know About Hiking the Beautiful Falls
Tubing in Helen, GA

One great thing about Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge is its location. It’s only about two hours from Atlanta.

If you want to visit other popular North Georgia towns within the Appalachian Mountains like Dahlonega, Helen, Blue Ridge, Hiawassee or Ellijay, they are all within an hour of Amicalola Falls.

Another fun place to go near Amicalola is Unicoi State Park & Lodge, which also offers zip lining through the North Georgia mountain tops.

AMICALOLA FALLS FAQ

Can you see Amicalola Falls without hiking?

Yes, you can see Amicalola Falls without hiking, but it does require a bit of walking. You can park in the lower parking lot and take a short walk on the paved walkway from the reflection pond to the base of the falls. You can also drive up to the top of the falls and take a short walk from that parking lot to the bridge that looks out over the top!

How difficult is the Amicalola Falls hike?

If you’re going to hike up and then back down the stairs at Amicalola Falls, it’s considered a moderately challenging hike. Keep in mind, the stairs are steep, and you may need to take breaks along the way.

How much does Amicalola Falls cost?

Amicalola Falls is a Georgia State Park, so it will cost you $5/day to park or visit here. If you’re a frequent Georgia State Parks visitor, consider an annual pass.

MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO NORTH GEORGIA

WHERE TO STAY NEAR AMICALOLA FALLS

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Amicalola Falls: Everything You Need To Know About Hiking the Beautiful Falls