Who would have guessed that Georgia had a 1,000 foot gorge with a waterfall! Well, if you are road tripping through the area or live close enough to Tallulah Gorge State Park in Northeastern Georgia, you’re in luck because this place was beautiful. While our family only hiked Hurricane Falls, we took a look at various other options, and hiking Tallulah Gorge is something we would like to repeat. Here is a short guide on what to expect when hiking Hurricane Falls and other potential things to do in the area, including other Tallulah Gorge trails.
Tallulah Falls, Georgia
As Floridians, we often travel to Georgia on road trips; however, we had only been to Atlanta prior to our visit to Tallulah Falls Georgia. On a southeastern U.S. road trip in 2018, we decided to explore northern Georgia a bit more and visited Helen, a charming German village just under 2 hours from Atlanta. We did some hiking at Anna Ruby Falls and on our way towards Greenville South Carolina, we stopped at Tallulah Gorge State Park in northeastern Georgia.
Check out the Google Map below to see the location of Tallulah Falls Georgia. It is on the border of South Carolina. If it is not too far from a planned road trip or from where you live, consider visiting the area. Smoky Mountain National Park is only about 2 hours north of here and Pigeon Forge is a great family destination spot in all seasons.
Tallulah Gorge State Park Information
If you are planning a trip in the near future to Tallulah Gorge State Park, check out the park’s main website for hours, trails, permits, campground information, and all activities offered. Parking does come with a small fee of $5 and there are many things to do within the park itself.
Tallulah Gorge is one of the most beautiful canyons in the country and is about two miles long and almost 1,000 feet deep. Visitors can hike rim trails to several overlooks, or hike down to the gorge floor with a free permit (available daily). One of the highlights is a suspension bridge that sways 80 feet above the rocky bottom and provides spectacular views of the river and waterfalls.
For those with younger kids, a paved path follows an old railroad bed, which is perfect for strollers. Bikes can also use this trail and there are even more challenging trails for mountain bikers. The Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center highlights the rich history of the area, as well as the showcases historical exhibits about the terrain and ecosystem. It is a great place to learn about the park itself and the geology of the southeastern U.S.
Hurricane Falls is the hike we chose to do as we wanted to see the waterfall and the gorge from the bottom. I read that this was the premier hike to do and that it was 2.3 miles round trip, but very steep. I had a feeling this hike was going to be difficult for the kids, as it was rated moderate to strenuous on many websites; however, we had never done something like this and we were up for the adventure.
Once we parked and walked to the Interpretive Center, we explored the exhibits and headed to the information desk. The ranger gave us maps and information about the trail length, difficulty, and recommendations. We received our free permit to hike to the gorge floor and followed the easily marked signs – Hurricane Falls Loop.
One huge piece of advice – try not to get there late as they only give out 100 permits per day (weather permitting). Be sure to take plenty of water and be prepared for hundreds of steps. To date (5/20), Hurricane Falls has been the toughest hike we have done as a family, yet it was very rewarding.
Before each hike, I make sure to mentally prepare the kids and let them know how many miles the hike will be, and the type of scenery we are going to see. I always try to show Google images or actual YouTube videos of people hiking the same trail to get them excited, but also to prepare them for what’s ahead.
When we hiked Hurricane Falls, my kids were 8 and 6. They didn’t understand the actual scope of what we were going to be doing until we actually arrived, looked down into Tallulah Gorge, and explained to them that we were going to hike all the way to the bottom to see the waterfall. That’s when their eyes popped out of their heads! I reassured them that the hike would be fun and that we would feel a sense of wonder and accomplishment once we reached the bottom.
The Hurricane Falls Loop Trail begins outside the visitor’s center. There are many viewpoints as you begin your descent into the gorge. The trail is very well marked, and varies between pavement, mulch, boardwalks, a suspension bridge, and an eternal set of stairs! The signs did scare us a bit, to be honest…
As usual, the “going down” part is not too hard. We moved slowly and enjoyed the wooded area and were looking forward to getting to the suspension bridge. My son soon started to realize that each step we climbed down, meant we were going to have to climb back up on the way out. This is where Part 1 of the whining began!
Luckily it soon faded as the suspension bridge was a novelty. Both children enjoyed walking over the bridge and looking down at the river below. They were amazed at how high up we were, yet still inside the gorge surrounded by cliffs. Another few hundred more steps down, and we made it to the bottom!
The view at the bottom of Tallulah Gorge was stunning! We stayed down at the base for a few minutes admiring the beauty of Hurricane Falls, and realizing how small we were in comparison.
Then, the climb back up… Whining Part 2! As I mentioned before, I knew this was going to happen. We made sure to stop and take some breathers, multiple times along the way (for everyone’s sake). Luckily, there were benches at some of the landings. We made sure to use them, and even had a water break and snack break to keep our troops from melting down.
Although the way up was definitely longer and more strenuous than the way down, I would happily do this hike again! It is definitely considered a difficult hike, but it’s one of the most beautiful hiking trails in Georgia. Hiking Tallulah Gorge with kids is very possible; however, I wouldn’t recommend it if your kids are new to hiking. It was tough for all of us, but a very worthwhile hike.
Other Tallulah Gorge Trails
- Sliding Rock Trail – 3.4 miles and requires a gorge floor permit from the park’s ranger desk. It is a very scenic trail as it makes a deep descent into a remote section of the gorge floor to visit Bridal Veil Falls. There’s even a deep swimming hole that’s perfect for a mid-hike chill.
- North Rim and South Rim Trails – 2.5 miles – This two-trail combo allows visitors to peer deep into the gorge’s depths and view the Tallulah Falls waterfalls from towering heights. It is a relatively easy way to see Tallulah Gorge’s most magnificent sights without descending hundreds of steps or scrambling over a boulder-ridden trail.
- Shortline Trail (Rail-Trail) – 2.8 miles – This is a great trail for younger kids or even someone with a stroller. Unlike most of the other trails at Tallulah Gorge State Park, this is a shady old rail trail that follows a pretty level, paved path. It is perfect for a scenic run, walk, or bike ride. This trail follows a calm section of the Tallulah River.
TALLULAH GORGE STATE PARK Final Thoughts
Hiking Tallulah Gorge was a great experience. Tallulah Falls State Park is a hidden gem and contains some of the best hikes on the East Coast, in my opinion. For some other great options, check out these Five Breathtaking U.S. State and National Parks that you may have overlooked. If you are looking for another state park in Georgia, check out Sweetwater Creek State Park, just west of Atlanta.
If you are looking for other ideas to do before or after this hike, you could visit Greenville (one of our favorite Southeast vacation spots) or Columbia in South Carolina. To read about the rest of the stops on this trip, check out my post – Southeast Road Trip.
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