When embarking on the over 2,100 mile trek of the Appalachian Trail, do not pass up the opportunity of a warm-up hike to Amicalola Falls. The Base of the Falls Trail is a 1 mile hike, just south of the Appalachian Trail, with views of a gorgeous waterfall that is considered one of the seven wonders of Georgia. This is a stunning hike and must not be missed as the climb reveals spectacular views, prevalent wildlife, and the calming sound of water crashing on rock that spurs you all the way to the top.
The falls are located in the Amicalola Falls State Park, 15 miles outside of Dawsonville, Georgia. The trail starts at the Visitor Center, and though it is not considered part of the approach to the Appalachian Trail, the climb is more rewarding and the landscape more beautiful. This hike is considered moderate, for the experienced hiker, and strenuous – yet doable – for those who enjoy an occasional hike from time to time. The hike starts off flat; then steadily moves towards an uphill climb. An enjoyable feature is the last several feet of the hike, which can only be taken by way of a wooden staircase. Here hikers like stomp their way to the base of the falls where they are kissed with mist from the propelling water. A breezy spray is a welcome treat during a hard climb in the warmer months. Every fifty steps, or so, there is a convenient alcove, or deck, that juts out over the water, allowing for faster hikers to pass or families to take pictures of the beautiful scenery. The stairs end at the base of the falls where there is a bridge that allows hikers to walk across the creek to the other side. This is a nice resting place where the best pictures can be taken as you look up at the crashing falls before you. Once you cross over the bridge, the trail continues for another several feet to the top of the falls.
At the top, the views of the Georgia valley below are incredible as you make your way to the wooden boardwalk where visitors are allowed to stand directly on the top of the falls. Peer over the rail and watch the rush of water tumble at your feet. Also up top, there is a picnic area with a vast field of green grass to throw a blanket on and enjoy a well deserved lunch. Conveniently, there are restrooms up top for use before hiking back down, which makes for an all around happy day. However, the fun does not have to stop there. If you want more of a climb, a hiker can continue on their journey and jump on the Appalachian Approach Trail to the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail and Springer Mountain. Just a quick scurry across the road and the blue marked trail will take hikers to the start of the Appalachian Trail. Whether you are hiking the falls to get the blood flowing to your legs for the big hike, or if you simply want a fun filled day outdoors, the Base of the Falls Trail to Amicalola Falls, though short, is a reward hike as visitors will enjoy seeing the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi.