Hike to stunning waterfall views and historic ruins on this double-trail loop on the Historic & Tranquil Trails at High Falls State Park near Macon.
LOCATION:High Falls State Park near Macon, Georgia
The main attraction at High Falls State Park is undoubtedly the tumbling and thundering cascades of the Towaliga River. Easily seen from both of the river’s banks, the waterfalls are enormous, broad, and dramatic. The river courses over a massive, exposed rock outcrop, sliding over its smooth outcroppings and tumbling over its angular crags.
This adventure on the river’s southwest bank catches stunning waterfall views and visits historic ruins on the Historic Trail, and then loops through a fern-filled, rolling forest on the Tranquil Trail. It’s a great, relatively easy hike filled with historical interest and a whole lot of natural beauty.
High Falls Historic & Tranquil Trails: the hike
The adventure begins at a trailhead near the river’s southwestern shore (view maps and driving directions), crossing the remains of an old concrete spillway. On the spillway, the channels of the former hydroelectric dam are visible, slowly being reclaimed and covered by the forest.
The hike passes the brick remains of several historic buildings, with the thundering cascades of High Falls audible in the near distance. The route descends to the banks of the Towaliga River before climbing to a viewing platform, where abundant, wide-open views of the enormous waterfall extend far below the overlook. The waterfall’s scale is immense; a close look reveals the comparatively tiny orange railing of the Falls Trail on the river’s opposite bank.
The hike departs the overlook, leveling as it trails the banks of a canal. The hike reaches High Falls Road at .25 miles, and turns to double back to the trailhead, following the canal, passing groves of bamboo and crossing the concrete spillway a second time.
The hike crosses Towaliga River Drive, traveling southbound on a spur trail toward the Tranquil Trail. The sounds of the tumbling waterfalls fade as the hike dives into a sun-dappled forest filled with ferns and wildflowers. The hike begins the loop portion of the trail at .6 mile, turning right to follow the loop trail counterclockwise. The trail rolls elevation through the forest, passing wood benches, crossing wood bridges and exploring mossy, pebble-lined creeks coursing through deep ravines. Ferns cover vast stretches of the forest floor, basking in the filtered sunlight from the tree canopy above.
These remote stretches of the are home to wildlife, including birds and deer. Pause to look, listen and relax, and you’ll likely see the forest’s inhabitants as they traverse through these rolling, creek-filled woodlands.
The hike nears a park road at 1.6 miles, where a trail veers right, leading to the High Falls campground. This hike continues northbound, meandering through the forest and crossing several bridges over trickling streams. Just before completing the loop, a stream tumbles over a small waterfall on trail right.
The hike completes the Tranquil Trail Loop at just over two miles, veering right to hike the spur trail toward the river’s banks. The trail makes a steady, but gentle, climb to the trailhead, completing the adventure at 2.25 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.
Always leave no trace, pack out everything you pack in, and if you see trash, pick it up and pack it out.
Stay on the marked trail, tell someone where you're going, pack safety and wayfinding essentials, and don't rely on a mobile phone to find your way. Please always practice good trail etiquette. And before you go, always check the trailhead kiosk, official maps, and the park or ranger office for notices of changed routes, trail closures, safety information, and restrictions.
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