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.

georgia hiking trails: 2-4 miles 2.1 miles
(round trip)
? Your mileage may vary! Accuracy of your GPS device, weather conditions, and stops along your route will affect your own recorded distance.
georgia hiking trails: moderate to difficultmore
difficult
?Our difficulty estimate, based on distance, terrain, elevation change, & ease of wayfinding. May vary daily due to weather, trail reroutes, downed trees, etc.
georgia hiking trails: difficult for most dogs Difficult
for dogs
?Leashed dogs are allowed on this trail, but obstacles and terrain have made this hike difficult for our trail-loving Labrador Retrievers. Check out our favorite dog-friendly trails in Georgia for a great hike with your pup.

LOCATION:Amicalola Falls State Park near Ellijay, Georgia

GEAR: REI Flash 18 Backpack, our hiking gear list and Canon 6D Camera

WEAR: Our ultra-soft Atlanta Trails shirts and mountain logo hats

OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 777 Trails Illustrated Map

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. This hike makes a one-mile journey to the crest of this enormous waterfall, grabbing stunning views from the top before descending alongside the falls along bridges and stairs.

Hike the Amicalola Falls Trail to the tallest waterfall in Georgia

Amicalola Falls is one of Georgia’s most popular state parks, so expect some company on the trail, especially on fair-weather weekends. While this hike explores some of the park’s lesser-traveled areas on this two-trail loop, the waterfall’s crest and stairs can often be busy with hikers and photographers. We usually try to catch the best views and photos of the falls in early mornings before the crowds arrive.

It’s a great hike in just about any season: draped in a dusting of snow, framed by springtime wildflowers, or lined with the vibrant greens of summer. But the waterfall is particularly beautiful in autumn, framed against a vibrant backdrop of fall leaves, when the surrounding trees explode into vibrant autumn color.

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. #hiking #atlanta #georgia #travel #outdoors #adventure

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

The hike begins at the Amicalola Falls State Park visitor center (view maps and driving directions). The route passes under a stone arch marking the beginning of the Appalachian Trail Approach Trail, a 10 mile hike to the Appalachian Trail’s southern end on Springer Mountain. The hike climbs through a young hardwood forest, carving through wide switchbacks and then reaching a gravel road at .6 mile. The route turns left, following the gravel road northbound.

Stunning views of the surrounding mountains emerge on the trail’s left side as the hike climbs elevation, a view that’s especially beautiful in the autumn as colorful leaves dot the landscape. The sounds of the nearby plunging waterfall become audible as the trail rises toward the crest of Amicalola Falls.

Amicalola Falls Trail: hike to beautiful mountain views from the crest of Georgia's tallest waterfall

The trail reaches a paved parking area at 1 mile, having climbed 725 feet from the trailhead. The hike turns left in the parking area, following signs to the waterfall overlook. The trail crosses a bridge spanning the crest of the falls, catching incredible far-flung views of the southern Appalachian Mountains to the south.

The hike turns left at 1.1 miles, descending the western side of Amicalola Falls via a system of stairs and landings, and then reaches a paved pathway. The hike turns left on the pathway, crossing a bridge spanning the waterfall’s upper third. The waterfall cascades in multiple streams from the sheer rock face above, tossing mist and spray in a continual breeze down onto the bridge.

Amicalola Falls Trail: hiking to Georgia's tallest waterfall

The hike continues its descent, following stairs and landings and catching uninterrupted views of the waterfall as it cascades over a rocky, boulder-filled bed through the forest. The trail levels briefly at 1.25 miles, reaching the last set of stairs. A paved trail parallels the waterfall’s lower cascades, offering up-close views of the creek as it spills over tumbled boulders in small cascading waterfalls.

The continually spilling, tumbling creek levels into the tranquil waters of a reflective pool at 1.5 miles. The calm pool offers reflections of the surrounding trees, and makes a great place for a mid-hike snack or water break.

Hike Georgia's Amicalola Falls Trail to a beautiful reflective pond near the waterfall's base

Following a blue-blazed trail, the hike departs the pond, winding through a young forest and following the continually tumbling creek downstream. The trail levels, passing through a picnic area and playground, and reaches the trailhead at 2.1 miles, completing the adventure.

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

More adventures at Amicalola Falls

In the area with energy and daylight left? Check out our Amicalola Falls State Park guide for more ways to explore and adventure in this beautiful stretch of North Georgia.


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

This map reflects our route when we last followed the trail. Trails and routes change frequently – so please refer to official trail maps for the latest route.

Love the trail?

This trail is maintained thanks to the hard work of countless volunteers and donations from supporters of the Friends of Georgia State Parks. Please support them by making a donation or joining a volunteer day. Let's work together to keep these fantastic trails maintained and open for use!

Updates

Did you have trouble accessing the trail, or notice some recent trail updates or storm damage? We'd love to know! Contact us here, and thanks for helping us keep this site updated!

Driving Directions



Parking

$5, or included with a Friends of Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites membership.


GPS Coordinates

34.558000, -84.249850     //     N34 33.480 W84 14.991

Elevation Profile

Amicalola Falls East Ridge Trail and Appalachian Approach Trail Loop Elevation Profile
 
 
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Eric Champlin
Author

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, Asheville Trails, and Trailful, digital magazines that highlight the South’s best outdoor adventures and top Southern-worthy outdoor gear. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.