Hike the Tallulah Gorge State Park rim trails, scoring stunning views of the gorge’s sheer walls and tumbling waterfalls on two of the park’s easiest trails.
OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 778 Trails Illustrated Map
There’s a whole lot of rugged, awe-inspiring beauty to be seen at Tallulah Gorge State Park. Spanning two miles in length and 1000 feet deep, the gorge is a scenic, rocky, deep-cut canyon. Deep in its depths, the Tallulah River rages over boulders, rock outcrops and cliffs, creating an impressive series of waterfalls.
This hike on the North Rim Trail and South Rim Trail catch stunning views from the canyon’s rim, without making a difficult descent into the gorge. (Want to explore the waterfalls up close? Descend hundreds of stairs and trek across a suspension bridge to see Hurricane Falls on the Hurricane Falls Trail, or score a gorge floor permit for a chance to hike the extremely challenging Sliding Rock Trail.) The North Rim Trail and South Rim Trail span 2.5 miles, combined, and offer the easiest access to some of the best views that Tallulah Gorge has to offer.
Talluah Gorge North & South Rim Trails: the hike
The adventure begins at the park’s interpretive center (view maps and driving directions), hiking southwest from the trailhead. At the first trail junction, the hike turns left, venturing eastbound along the gorge’s north rim and catching the first view into the gorge from overlook 1A. Far below, a suspension bridge spans the gorge floor just above Hurricane Falls. Departing 1A, the hike continues eastbound to overlook 1, where gorge vistas open to the east and west. A toppled, rusted tower sits at Overlook 1, used in Karl Wallenda’s famous, adrenaline-inducing highwire crossing of the gorge in 1970.
The trail departs Overlook 1, backtracking on its outbound path toward the park’s interpretive center. At the trail junction at .6 mile, the hike continues following the North Rim Trail westbound. The hike catches stunning, deep-canyon views at Overlook 3, where L’Eau d’Or Falls tumbles over brightly covered rock deep within the gorge’s depths.
Departing Overlook 3, the hike arcs to the north, exploring a shady valley filled with fern and crossing a small creek. The route catches views of the Tallulah Falls Dam and the upper stretches of the gorge from Overlooks 4 and 5, and then reaches Highway 441 at 1 mile. The hike crosses the gorge on the side of the highway, reaching Tallulah Gorge’s southern rim and traveling eastbound along the South Rim Trail.
The hike visits Overlooks 6 and 7, catching views of the Hurricane Falls Trail suspension bridge and the Tempesta Falls waterfall. The South Rim Trail travels southeast, passing a pavilion at 1.3 miles and a stairway leading to the gorge floor at 1.4 miles. The trail descends to Overlook 8, where views of Hurricane Falls are particularly stunning from the lofty heights of the overlook.
The hike continues its descent, departing overlook 8, following stone stairs to Overlook 9, and catching beautiful views of Hurricane Falls and Oceana Falls far below. The park’s interpretive center is visible to the south, and from this perspective, the gorge’s immense depth and width are particularly breathtaking.
Departing Overlook 9, the trail continues descending to reach the last overlook, #10, after passing a stone bench set under a cave-like outcrop. The hike catches views of the Caledonia Cascade from Overlook 10 at 1.5 miles, and the north Wallenda tower is visible across the gorge.
From Overlook 10, the hike backpacks to the trailhead, retracing its outbound path on the South Rim Trail and North Rim Trail. The hike reaches the park’s interpretive center at 2.5 miles, completing the adventure.
More Tallulah Gorge hiking adventures
If you’re up for a workout, don’t miss the challenging Hurricane Falls Trail and the permit-only Sliding Rock Trail at Tallulah Gorge. These two trails descend deep into the gorge’s depths, catching an up-close look at the Tallulah Falls waterfalls. (And, the Sliding Rock Trail offers a bonus: the deep, chilly pool below Bridal Veil Falls is the only area within the gorge at Tallulah Gorge State Park where swimming is allowed.) Or for a more mellow hike, run or bike at the park, check out the Shortline Trail, a former rail trail that runs nearly level along the serene banks of the Tallulah River just upriver from the gorge.
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