The state parks in North Georgia get a lot of love, but just one hour south of Atlanta, just north of Macon is a hidden gem, High Falls State Park. This park is just a few miles off I-75 too, so it is easy to get to and the trails feel a little like hiking North Georgia, but without all the crowds.
To make the most of your trip, here are a few things you should know.
High Falls State Park Camping: Stay in a Yurt
There are several camping options at High Falls State Park, Ga. There are RV campsites, and tent camping – you can even paddle to a primitive site. But one of our favorites is glamping in a yurt. A High Falls State Park yurt has beds, electricity and most importantly for heat in the winter and air conditioning in summer! There are six yurts at this park, and they back up to the water – a great place for morning coffee. The yurts here are much like yurts at other Georgia State Parks. Check out our in-depth yurt Q&A 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 the pool, mini-golf course and playground are located. The boat dock is also on this side of the High Falls Road. The bulk of the hiking trails are on the riverside. *NOTE: Boat rentals are currently unavailable due to COVID protocols
Hike Along The Waterfall
There are 4.5 miles of trails, but if you can’t do them all then I recommend taking the one along the falls, aptly called Falls Trail. It’s just a little over a mile and includes a “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 History Falls Trail
For some reason, we missed this trail during our stay and I’m so bummed – don’t make our mistake! The History Falls Trail, includes ruins of the Old Mill and Powerhouse. According to Lesli, the fog on this part of the river, highlighted by the sun just over the treeline, is stunning. Her boys enjoyed throwing rocks in the water for a while before they headed out. It’s an easy hike of just over 2 miles, with more stunning views of the waterfall from the other side.
Hike the Tranquil Trail
This trail is more of a typical walk in the woods and is located across the street from the Lakeside camping area. If you have time, definitely do this one, but if you are short, the other two are more dramatic.
Explore The Park Facilities
If you’re visiting in summer, bring your swimsuit for a dip in the pool. Or play in the lake with a kayak, canoe, stand-up paddleboard or aquacycle through the park’s rental program (again, Boat rentals are currently unavailable due to COVID protocols). Don’t want to get wet? Bring your fishing pole and stand on the shoreline. There’s also geocaching, a playground and mini golf.
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, this is a great place to enjoy a home cooked meal and a lot of it. In the COVID era, you can pick up, or if you want to eat in, they have tables spaced apart, staff wear masks and although part of the fun of this place is meeting new people around the lazy Susan, you can request a table to yourself.
Fresh Air Barbecue. This 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.
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