Amicalola Falls State Park is the gateway to the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. The park features a lodge, a 729-foot waterfall (the tallest in Georgia), and the pathway to Springer Mountain. Visitors must pay $5 per car to access the park. Appalachian Trail hikers must register at the visitor center. There is a store with restrooms for visitors and the lodge features a mediocre restaurant.
I don’t know what’s a bigger spectacle—the cascading waterfall or the 604 stairs you have the climb to reach the top. I dropped by the lodge and grabbed a quick plate of reconstituted powdered eggs and watery grits before doing the 2+ mile loop from the visitor center up to the top of the falls and then back down via the East Ridge Trail.
You can make a longer loop by combining the AT Approach Trail with other pathways, or make it a weekend trip by staying at one of the AT shelters or hostels/inns before backpacking out. I was just passing through, so I did the bare minimum. Well, not the bare minimum. Some people just parked at the falls overlook and laughed at the gluttons for punishment like me who were climbing the stairs.
After climbing out of Tallulah Gorge less than a week prior, and Walls Of Jericho just the previous night, this climb didn’t seem very tough by comparison. I credit the knee compression sleeves I’ve been wearing lately.
This area is very family friendly and handicap-accessible. There are frequent learning tours for visitors of all ages. If you drop by in late March and early April, you’ll see many backpackers setting off on their hopeful thru-hikes toward the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Mt. Katahdin in Maine.