The state parks in North Georgia get a lot of love, but there are some amazing parks south of the city too. Just one hour south of Atlanta, located northwest of Macon, High Falls State Park is a hidden gem you’ve got to see.
This park is just a few miles off Interstate 75, so it’s easy to get to and makes a great side trip for travelers on their way to Florida. High Falls State Park is named for the tumbling cascades on the Towaliga River. In addition to the beautiful falls, you’ll also find a lake and plenty of park amenities.
I’ve visited High Falls State Park dozens of times through the years — including for my senior year Spring Break in high school (!!) — and there’s always something new to discover. The falls here are always an impressive sight to see.
The trails at High Falls can feel a little like hiking in North Georgia, but without all the crowds. Ready to learn more about this amazing state park? Here’s everything you need to know about High Falls State Park!
ACCOMMODATIONS AT HIGH FALLS STATE PARK
As I mentioned, I visited here in high school quite a bit. For Spring Break, our group of friends camped here and had the best time! High Falls State Park is a popular camping destination with lots of great choices.
You’ll find plenty of campsites here for tents and RVs…106 to be exact. Some of the campsites are seasonal, but most are available year-round.
One of the most unique camping options here is the Paddle-In Campsite! The Paddle-In Campsite sleeps 25 people and is a primitive camping area that includes a pit privy, picnic tables, fire ring, lantern post and grills. This is a one-of-a-kind, peaceful group campsite at High Falls State Park.
To get there, you have to take a short .5-mile paddle from the park office to camp under the stars. This site is only accessible by boat, and boat rentals are available at the office. Cool, right?
YURTS AT HIGH FALLS STATE PARK
One of our favorite ways to stay at High Falls is glamping in a yurt.
High Falls State Park yurts have two futons and a full-size mattress, electricity, and — most importantly — heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer! There are six yurts at this park, and they back up to the water, so you can enjoy amazing views while having your morning coffee.
The yurts at High Falls State Park are much like the yurts you’ll find at some other Georgia State Parks. Check out our in-depth yurt Q&A here. (It’s about our yurt stay at Sweetwater Creek State Park, but the important deets still apply here.)
Note there are two separate camping areas to choose from at High Falls. There is lakeside camping (where you’ll find the yurts), and river camping, which is across the High Falls Road and includes some ADA accessible sites.
If you have young kids, you may like lakeside better, as that is where you’ll find a seasonal swimming pool, mini-golf course and playground. The boat dock is also on this side of the High Falls Road. The bulk of the hiking trails are on the riverside.
HIKE ALONG THE WATERFALL
Visitors can hike along the river’s edge and through hilly forest to the remains of a hydroelectric power plant foundation. In the early 1800s, this area was a prosperous industrial town with several stores, a grist mill, cotton gin, blacksmith shop, shoe factory and hotel.
High Falls fell from prosperity in the 1880s when a major railroad bypassed it. Today, the park has a few hiking trails that are worth exploring.
FALL VIEW TRAIL
There are 4.5 miles of trails, but if you can’t do them all, I recommend taking the one along the falls, aptly called Falls View Trail. It’s just a little over a mile and includes an 8-shaped loop along the water and into the woods with several ‘off trail’ detours to view the river.
You can’t swim in these falls, as the water is extremely powerful coming from the Towaliga River. Be sure to cross the main road and look at the dam, too. It’s beautiful in the morning light.
HIKE THE HISTORIC TRAIL
It’s easy to miss this trail, but don’t do it! On the Historic Trail, visitors can hike along the river’s edge and through hilly forest to the ruins of the Old Grist Mill and Powerhouse. The fog on this part of the river, highlighted by the sun just over the tree line, is stunning.
This ADA-accessible trail is an easy 0.5 miles, and features a crushed gravel base.
My boys enjoyed throwing rocks in the water for a while before they headed out. It’s a great trail for learning more about the history of the park. You will also find a great overlook on this trail, that features amazing views of the falls.
HIKE THE TRANQUIL TRAIL
The Tranquil Trail is the longest trail at High Falls State Park at 2.5 miles. This trail if more of a typical walk in the woods, and is located across the street from the lakeside camping area. If you have time, this is a great one, but if you’re short on time, the other two trails are more dramatic.
The Tranquil Trail will take you through the woods and past streams and creeks. Keep an eye out for plants and animals along the way.
EXPLORE THE PARK FACILITIES
High Falls State Park is full of amazing amenities, making this a great place to visit year-round. If you’re visiting in the summer, consider a dip in the swimming pool! It’s a great way to beat the heat.
The park rents kayaks, canoes, and aqua cycles too, so you can explore the park from High Falls Lake. Fishing is a popular pastime here as well. The park’s lake is known as one of Georgia’s top spots for hybrid and white bass.
Don’t want to get wet? There are plenty of activities to do on land. You’ll find geocaching, a playground, and a mini-golf course here too. Mini-golf is an extra fee, and you can find equipment available for rent at the Trading Post during office hours.
WHERE TO EAT NEAR HIGH FALLS STATE PARK
Of course you’ll be cooking over the open fire and roasting marshmallows on your adventure, but just in case, here are a few places you might want to try that are near the park.
- Buckner’s Family Restaurant. Known for their fried chicken and the lazy Susan family style service, Buckner’s is a great place to enjoy a home cooked meal and a lot of it. Everything at Buckner’s is made from scratch, and it’s all delicious. Have a seat, and they’ll bring all the yummy food out to your table. It’s all-you-can-eat, so you won’t leave hungry!
- Fresh Air Barbecue. Fresh Air Barbeque is a local joint off the beaten path. I’ll forever love this place because in addition to some really good que, they were sweet enough to bring a bone out to our dog when we stopped here years ago on our way back to Atlanta. It was a simple thing, but it kept Norman, our basset hound, busy and happy while we enjoyed our lunch.
- Whistle Stop Café. If you know the movie Fried Green Tomatoes, than you know the Whistle Stop Café. And yes, the fried green tomatoes are good. This is a bit of a drive, but it’s on the way to Jarrell Plantation, another great historic site in the area.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO GEORGIA
- YOUR GEORGIA VACATION
- NORTH GEORGIA: North Georgia Mountains: 120+ Amazing Ways To Have Fun
- GEORGIA HIKING: 125+ Best Places For Hiking In Georgia (Kids and Beginners)
- MACON: Your Complete Guide To The Best Things To Do In Macon, GA
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