21+ Things Every Family Should Do at Tallulah Gorge State Park

Tallulah Gorge is one of the most amazing canyons in the eastern United States. It’s two miles long, and almost 1,000 feet deep! 

When I think of Tallulah Gorge State Park in Rabun County in North Georgia, I think of the spectacular views and that awesome suspension bridge.  With a great interpretive center, views from all different angles, hiking trails, events, outdoor activities, and a rich history — this is a can’t-miss place! 

21+ Things Every Family Should Do at Tallulah Gorge State Park

COOLEST PLACES TO STAY NEAR TALLULAH GORGE

  • Southern Charm. Located near Tallulah Falls in Clarksville, this 5 bedroom/5 bath home is only 7 miles from Tallulah Gorge State Park. This Clarksville House sleeps 13, so it’s perfect for an extended family vacation.
  • Lake Rabun Hotel. Experience the true sights, sounds, and flavors of the North Georgia Mountains at the Historic Lake Rabun Hotel & Restaurant, operating since 1922. This nature-inspired boutique hotel is rooted in a love for the environment, and is located right across the street from beautiful Lake Rabun.
  • Tallulah Gorge State Park also offers campsites!

21+ REASONS TO VISIT TALLULAH GORGE STATE PARK

21+ Things Every Family Should Do at Tallulah Gorge State Park
My kids on the suspension bridge at Tallulah Gorge State Park.

VISIT THE JANE HURT YARN INTERPRETIVE CENTER

The Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center is hands down one of my favorite welcome centers of all the Georgia State Parks.  This center is basically a mini-museum, and it’s a massive hit with kids and adults alike. 

There is information about the history of the area, and an award-winning film takes viewers on a dramatic journey through the gorge, including footage of rock climbers and kayakers. There’s a gift shop here too.

WALK THE SUSPENSION BRIDGE

The suspension bridge sways 80 feet above the rocky bottom, providing spectacular views of waterfalls, and is the first thing I think of when I think of this state park. It’s just such a unique hiking experience, and the views are breathtaking!

The suspension bridge is accessed by hiking the 2.25-mile Hurricane Falls Trail, which leaves from the interpretive center.  The thing you must know about this hike, is that there are steps involved…A LOT of steps!  Once you hike down the 300-plus steps, you arrive at the swaying bridge.

Take in all the views, take all the pictures, relax, and then get ready…because you’ve now got to hike 300-plus steps back up.  (You can do it!  I believe in you!)  Awesomely, there are several landings and benches to break up your steps, if you need it. (I do.)  

Pets aren’t allowed on this trail or the bridge for their safety.  Leashed pets are allowed on the rim trails, though.

SEE THE WALLENDA TIGHTROPE TOWERS

Just a reminder — the gorge is about 1,000 feet deep.  Why am I mentioning that here?  Because in 1970, Karl Wallenda walked on a high-wire and crossed the gorge.  And did headstands on it. Twice. Oh, and he was 65 years old at the time.

It is honestly just completely hard for me to wrap my head around the scene of actual tightrope walkers, but it’s true!  The towers that were used to secure his tightrope are still there today and can be seen by hiking the rim trails.  When you see them in person, it just adds to the amazement of the feat.

HIKE THE RIM TRAILS

If you want to see the beauty of this state park, but you don’t want to hike into the gorge, the rim trails are perfect!  The North Rim Trail leaves from the interpretive center, and takes you to a couple of overlooks, and past one of Karl Wallenda’s towers.  You can then hike back to the interpretive center, pass it, and follow the trail alongside Highway 441 to continue onto the South Rim Trail.

The South Rim Trail leads you to more scenic overlooks and are definitely worth the stops.  These trails are awesome for kids, as there is so much to see and explore, but there are no steps. The overlooks all offer stunning views of the gorge below, and these trails are also pet-friendly. If you do both trails, it’s about 2.25 miles.

HIKING, BIKING, OR RUNNING THE PAVED SHORTLINE TRAIL

Across the highway from the main entrance to Tallulah Gorge State Park, is an entrance to the paved Shortline Trail — a former rail trail at Tallulah Gorge State Park. 

This 2.8-mile paved path takes you along the calmer parts of the Tallulah River (no crashing waterfalls here), and across a wooden suspension bridge

HIKING DOWN TO THE GORGE FLOOR

Hiking to the floor of the gorge, so you can experience Bridal Veil Falls up close, is a truly unique Georgia State Parks adventure.  Now, not everyone gets to hike down to the floor of the gorge — you have to get a permit.  In order to keep things safe, and to minimize impact, Tallulah Gorge State Park only hands out 100 of the gorge floor permits per day. So if it’s a beautiful day, make sure you get there early to score a permit.  (They’re free.)

Once you score a permit, you’re good to hike the somewhat difficult 3.4-mile Sliding Rock Trail (via the Hurricane Falls Loop).  This trail will have you climbing down stairs, and scrambling over rocks.

Once you reach the bottom, you can take a well-deserved break by swimming in the swimming hole, or sliding down the aptly-named Sliding Rock (more on that below).  Dogs are not allowed on this trail, and rangers won’t issue you a pass if you’re not in proper footwear (no Crocs or flip flops).

This hike is also not recommended for children under the age of 8, and they don’t recommend hiking with a child in a baby-carrying backpack. They also do not issue passes on water release days, so make sure you check their website for those dates!  

TAKE ON SLIDING ROCK

Sliding Rock is a natural rock formation at the bottom of the gorge that you can — slide down!  Right into a swimming hole! 

If you’ve scored a gorge floor pass (see above), you’ll deserve some cooling off — and there’s no better way than a slide down into a pool of cool water, surrounded by the walls of the gorge.  There are no lifeguards, so do this at your own risk.  And make sure you pack your water shoes.

ENJOY THE SAND BEACH

A white sandy beach is located on the 63-acre Tallulah Lake.  To get there, you just have to turn left out of the main entrance, and then turn right (basically across the highway). 

It opens on Memorial Day, and just requires the $5 parking pass. 

CAMP

Tallulah Gorge State Park offers 50 tent, trailer, and RV campsites. They also have a pioneer campground, and three backcountry Adirondack shelters

The Terrora Campground area also has one of the two playgrounds at Tallulah Gorge, so it’s the perfect place for kids.  Site-specific sites can be reserved online.

Read More: Georgia State Parks Camping: 52+ Essential Things To Know

WATCH THE WATER RELEASES

Watch the water releases at Tallulah Gorge!  One of the managers at this state park told me that it is truly amazing, and that when the water is released on those mornings, she can hear it from her house.

Here’s an explanation from the Georgia State Parks website: “On a typical day, the water flow through the gorge is 35–40 CFS (cubic feet per second). During aesthetic releases, the flow is 200 CFS, and during whitewater releases, the flow is 500 CFS on Saturday and 700 CFS on Sunday.”

On a whitewater release weekend, you’re going to see more water, and you can watch kayakers test their skills on the massive rapids.

The best overlooks for viewing the kayakers on whitewater weekends are from the Inspiration Point overlook, the #1 overlook on the North Rim, and the #9 overlook on the South Rim.

They have dates for both types of releases starting in April and going through November, and they’re all posted on the main page of their website.  Obviously, no gorge floor hiking permits are issued on these dates.

GO WHITE WATER PADDLING

Tallulah Gorge is the only Georgia State Park that allows whitewater kayaking, and then only on the whitewater release days (the first three weekends in April and November). 

Boaters must prove their skills before being allowed to participate, and it’s not for the faint of heart! Tallulah Gorge kayaking requires Class-V skills on most occasions.

JOIN THE CANYON CLIMBERS CLUB

Tallulah Gorge State Park is one of four Georgia State Parks included in the Canyon Climbers Club.

After purchasing your $20 membership card (either at the park office or online), you are tasked with hiking down to the suspension bridge at Tallulah Gorge, hiking to the top of Amicalola Falls, hiking to the bottom of Providence Canyon, and hiking the stairs at Cloudland Canyon

After getting your card punched by a ranger at each park, you’re awarded with a T-shirt and bragging rights.

HIT THE BIKING TRAILS

Tallulah has three biking trails to choose from. The Stoneplace Trail is about 10 miles round-trip, and is rated moderate to difficult.  It’s made up of rocky red dirt, and a permit is required. 

The High Bluff Trail is part of the Muddy Spokes Club (see below), and is a difficult 3-mile loop that can be combined with the Stoneplace Trail.  And the paved Shortline Trail offers another choice, as well.

JOIN THE MUDDY SPOKES CLUB

Tallulah Gorge is also one of 18 state parks that are included in the Muddy Spokes Club. After purchasing your $20 membership card, you’re ready to start peddling.  At Tallulah Gorge, you’re tasked with biking the difficult High Bluff Trail — a 3-mile long loop, with an elevation change of 150 feet. 

Once you’ve completed 12 out of the 18 participating park trails, you will earn a T-shirt (and of course, bragging rights)!

TRY GEOCACHING

Tallulah Gorge is home to one of the geocaches that are part of the Georgia State Parks GeoTour program! 

You can download a Georgia State Parks GeoTour Passport from their website, and every time you find one of the official Georgia State Parks geocaches, enter the special code found in the geocache onto your passport.  Once you complete a specific amount in a region, you earn custom Geo-coins

My kids and I love the GeoTour. Tallulah Gorge has one, and here’s a hint: It’s located on the North Rim! 

Read More: Geocaching in Georgia: Your Ultimate Guide to this Fun Outdoor Adventure

TRY THEIR SEASONAL AND SPECIAL EVENTS

Tallulah offers so many amazing events throughout the year! Their guided hikes are some of the best — you can choose from gorge floor hikes, hikes to a rock formation called the “Witch’s Head,” full moon hikes down to the suspension bridge, waterfall hikes, and whitewater-watching hikes.

They also host a Stargazing with your Sweetheart event on Valentine’s Day, a Trunk-or-Treat event on Halloween, and a Christmas event, too!

ENJOY WATERFALL VIEWING

There are so many waterfalls to see at Tallulah Gorge State Park.  Inspiration Point on the North Rim gives you a great southern view into the gorge, and you’re able to see Oceana Falls below.  Also on the North Rim, you can see Bridal Veil Falls at the far end of the gorge, and overlooks #2 and #3 give you beautiful views of Tempest and L’eau d’Or Falls.

On the South Rim, you can see Hurricane Falls, Oceana Falls, and Caledonia Cascade. If you score a gorge floor pass, you can view Bridal Veil Falls up close.

GO FISHING

Shore and boat fishing are allowed on Tallulah Lake (5 horsepower limit for boats).  Boat access to Tallulah Lake is located at the public dock on River Street near Town Hall.  And there is a fishing pier at the Terrora Day Use Area of Tallulah Gorge State Park. 

Georgia law requires that anyone 16 and older have a fishing license in their possession.

TAKE THE KIDS TO THE PLAYGROUNDS

Tallulah Gorge State Park is home to two playgrounds, perfect for letting the kids get their wiggles out before heading home (or heading back to your tent for the night).

You’ll find one playground in the campground area near the campground pavilion and the showers and bathrooms. The other playground can be found near the picnic and sand beach area along Tallulah Falls Lake.

EXPERIENCE ROCK CLIMBING

This is one of the hardest and most beautiful areas in Georgia to climb, and you definitely must know what you’re doing to attempt a climb here. 

Tallulah Gorge staff issues free passes for 20 climbers a day, but keep in mind that climbers aren’t allowed on water release days.  (Check website for dates.) Also, every mid-February through mid-March there are no climbing permits issued for the climbing wall due to the nesting period of local peregrine falcons.

CHECK OUT THE SURROUNDING AREAS

After visiting Tallulah Gorge, you can explore the surrounding area.  There are some great spots nearby, just waiting to be explored!

  • The famous roadside attraction, Goats on a Roof, is just 7 miles north on Highway 441. Feed the goats and grab an ice cream while you’re there.
  • Wander North Georgia has partnered with Tallulah Adventures and opened a second retail location right across from Tallulah Gorge State Park.  In addition to their outdoor-centric retail store, you’ll also find a cafe, a covered pavilion for events, and an outdoor adventure zone for families.
  • Tallulah Gorge State Park is a great halfway point from Atlanta to the Cherokee, NC, entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. (The Oconaluftee Visitor Center is about an hour and 15 minutes away from Tallulah Gorge.)

TALLULAH GORGE FAQ

How much does it cost to get into Tallulah Gorge State Park?

To get into Tallulah Gorge State Park will cost you a $5 daily parking fee. Georgia State Parks also offers an annual pass for $50.

Is Tallulah Falls and Tallulah Gorge the same thing?

Tallulah Gorge State Park is located in the town of Tallulah Falls, GA. The gorge is located with the state park boundary.

What movies have been filmed in Tallulah Gorge?

Quite a few movies have been filmed at Tallulah Gorge, including Avengers: Infinity War, Deliverance, and The Great Locomotive Chase.

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21+ Things Every Family Should Do at Tallulah Gorge State Park