Adventures with Johnny Molloy
Georgia’s Tallulah Gorge State Park will surprise
By Johnny Molloy
Aug 26, 2018 at 12:00 AM
Looking for a fun summer road trip to somewhere new and beautiful? I have the answer — Tallulah Gorge State Park, located in northeast Georgia, about a three-hour drive from the Tri-Cities. The Tallulah River Gorge, cut by water and time, is one of the most spectacular features in the Peach State. Near the historic town of Tallulah Falls, the Tallulah River drops deeply into a steep and scenic canyon, where waterfalls continue to cut the gorge ever deeper. Bring your RV, pop up or tent. The well-maintained and staffed campground is laid out in a loop with cross roads. The sites are in good shape. Unfortunately, the sites are close together. Plan to become friends with your neighbor. Two bathhouses serve the campground. You will see active campers here, with bicycles and hiking gear all poised to explore. There’s not much sitting around at Terrora. The campground fills on spring break, summer weekends, and gets close during fall leaf season. Bring your phone/camera with you into the gorge. First check out the visitor center, with many historic and natural displays about the area. A helpful staff is there to answer your questions as well. Take the North Rim Trail where pines dominate the top of the gorge woodland. Soon reach the first of several numbered overlooks. The fallen tower beside Overlook #1 is the north tower used by Karl Wallenda to string wire across the gorge, which he walked across in 1970. The view is a long look into the deeper south end of the gorge. The Hurricane Falls Trail reveals LaDore Falls or L’Eau d’Or Falls, which is French for “water of gold.” Begin descending the first of 750 steps to the suspension bridge over the Tallulah River, which also has views of LaDore Falls. Admire the natural features that make the gorge so spectacular — steep sided rock walls, sheer cliffs, crashing water below. Reach the suspension bridge and linger if you dare. Below you, Hurricane Falls makes its way over striated rock. Another set of steps wait across the river. Here, you get to take the 450 steps down to the bottom of the gorge. A viewing platform allows a bottom up look at Hurricane Falls. To continue down the gorge you need a permit, which can be gotten at the interpretive center. Only a finite number of permits are issued for descending the gorge. More climbing awaits as you make your way up to the top of the south rim. Tallulah Gorge has been a tourist attraction for quite some time, well before the state park was established in 1992, as a cooperative effort between Georgia Power and the state of Georgia. Reach the crest of the gorge. Look downstream for the interpretive center and across the gorge for a side stream waterfall, Caledonia Cascade, plunging into the gorge. See Oceana Falls. More overlooks opens to Caledonia Cascade and a 1,000-foot bluff across the gorge, as well as Tempesta Falls. The park has other activities too, such as swimming on the park’s Tallulah Falls Lake. A beach is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. You can also paddle a canoe or kayak on the lake. The park has tennis courts, more hiking trails, and fishing. Make Tallulah Falls State Park your summer destination.