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.
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 hikers often crowd the waterfall’s crest and system of stairs and bridges. 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.
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 a 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 the trail’s left side 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 trail rises toward Amicalola Falls’ 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.
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 a second set of stairs and landings, offering uninterrupted 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 parallels Amicalola Falls’ lower cascades, descending elevation and providing up-close views of a creek as it spills over tumbled boulders in small waterfalls.
The continually spilling, tumbling creek levels into the tranquil waters of a reflective pool at 1.5 miles, the calm pools offering reflections of the surrounding trees.
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.