Amicalola Falls Trail: Hiking Georgia’s Tallest Waterfall

Hike to the top of Amicalola Falls, the tallest waterfall in Georgia, and catch incredible mountain views on the East Ridge Trail and Appalachian Approach Trail loop.

trail info

TRAIL LOCATION: Amicalola Falls State Park near Dahlonega

GEAR: REI Flash 18 Backpack w/ our favorite day hike gear and Canon 6D DSLR

OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 777 Trails Illustrated Map


The enormous waterfall at Amicalola Falls drops over 730 feet, cascading in multiple tiers of white, misty, falling water from a towering cliff in Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest. The Amicalola Falls Trail hikes one mile to the waterfall’s crest, grabbing stunning views from the cliff’s peak before descending alongside the falls via bridges and stairs. (Despite the trail’s moderate distance, the hike is moderately difficult for its steep stair descent beside the waterfall.)

Amicalola Falls is one of Georgia’s most popular state parks, so expect some company on the trail, especially on fair-weather weekends. The Amicalola Falls Trail loops through some of the park’s lesser-traveled areas – but the waterfall’s crest and system of stairs and bridges are usually crowded. Grab the best views of the falls and photos in the early morning before the crowds arrive. And catch Amicalola Falls framed against a vibrant backdrop in the fall, when the surrounding trees explode into vibrant autumn color.

Hike the Amicalola Falls Trail to the tallest waterfall in Georgia

Amicalola Falls East Ridge Trail and Appalachian Approach Trail Loop: the hike

The Amicalola Falls Trail begins at the visitor center (view maps and driving directions), passing under a stone arch marking the start of the Appalachian Trail Approach Trail, a 10 mile hike to the Appalachian Trail’s southern start on Springer Mountain

The Amicalola Falls Trail climbs through young deciduous forest, the trail switching back as it climbs 400 feet elevation before meeting a gravel road at .6 mile.  The hike turns left, following the gravel road north in a continual climb towards the waterfall. Stunning views of the surrounding mountains emerge on trail left as the hike climbs elevation – especially beautiful in the autumn as colorful leaves dot the landscape. The sounds of the nearby waterfall become audible as the hike rises toward Amicalola Falls’ crest.

The Amicalola Falls Trail hikes to stunning views near the waterfall's crest

The trail reaches a paved parking area at 1 mile, leveling at the crest after having climbed 725 feet elevation from the trailhead.  The hike turns left in the parking area, following signs to the waterfall overlook. The trail crosses a bridge spanning the waterfall’s crest, grabbing some incredible views of the southern Appalachian mountains to the south.

Morning fog blankets the rolling mountains seen from the summit of Amicalola Falls in North Georgia

The Amicalola Falls Trail turns left at 1.1 miles, descending the western flank of Amicalola Falls via a system of stairs and landings before reaching a paved landing. The trail turns left, following the pavement to cross a bridge spanning the waterfall’s upper third.  The waterfall cascades in multiple streams from the sheer rock face, tossing mist and spray in a continual breeze down onto the bridge.

The trail descends on a second set of stairs and landings, offering continual views of the waterfall as it cascades over a rocky, boulder-filled stream bed through the forest.  The Amicalola Falls Trail levels slightly at 1.25 miles, reaching the last set of stairs. A paved trail meanders parallel to Amicalola Falls’ lower cascades, descending elevation and providing up-close views of creek as it spills over tumbled boulders in small waterfalls.

The lower waterfalls at Amicalola Falls spill over tumbled boulders at the waterfall's base

The continually spilling, tumbling creek levels into the tranquil waters of a pond at 1.5 miles, the calm pools offering reflections of the surrounding trees. 

The Amicalola Falls Trail hikes to this reflective pond at Amicalola Falls State Park

The hike departs the pond via the blue-blazed trail at a signed intersection, winding through young forest beside the continually tumbling creek.  The trail levels as it loops toward the trailhead, passing through a picnic area and playground before completing the hike at 2.1 miles.

Note: slippery rocks and fast moving water can be extremely dangerous! Please don’t climb, stand on, swim near, or jump from any waterfall.


Amicalola Falls East Ridge Trail and Appalachian Approach Trail Loop: Directions & Details


$5, or included with a Georgia State Parks annual pass.

GPS Coordinates

34.558000, -84.249850
N34 33.480 W84 14.991

Driving Directions

Elevation Profile

Amicalola Falls East Ridge Trail and Appalachian Approach Trail Loop Elevation Profile

Amicalola Falls East Ridge Trail and Appalachian Approach Trail Loop Map

Trail data and photos © Summit19 Studio LLC. This map is not a substitute for official trail maps or topographic maps.
Eric Champlin is a writer and photographer who loves to hike, run, backpack, kayak and cycle the southeast. He’s the editor and founder of Atlanta Trails and Asheville Trails, online magazines that cover the South’s best outdoor adventures. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.