Tallulah Gorge State Park in Tallulah Falls, Georgia. Photo by @thegreatoutdoorsphoto
Guide to Tallulah Gorge State Park
Hike to waterfalls, brave the suspension bridge, take a kayak tour and many more insider tips for visiting Tallulah Gorge State Park in Tallulah Falls, Georgia.
Two miles long and nearly 1,000 feet deep, Tallulah Gorge is one of the most dramatic canyons in the eastern United States. A suspension bridge sways 80 feet above the rocky bottom, providing spectacular views of waterfalls.
A good first stop is the Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center, offering trail maps, ranger advice, nature and history exhibits, plus a gift shop. An award-winning film takes viewers on a dramatic journey through the gorge, including footage of rock climbers and kayakers.
When to Go
Tallulah Gorge State Park is open daily year-round. Autumn is especially popular with leaf watchers heading to the mountains for colorful foliage.
During summer, Bridal Veil Falls becomes known as Sliding Rock as adventurous visitors slip down the rocks into a pool below.
“Whitewater releases” are scheduled each spring and fall when flow over the dam increases more than tenfold. Kayakers come from across the country just to brave the thundering waterfalls during this event.
What to Do
More than 20 miles of trails range from easy to heart-pumping, leading to rim overlooks, waterfalls, Tallulah Lake and a suspension bridge swaying 80 feet above the river below.
Only 100 permits are given each day to those who want to hike all the way down to the gorge floor and “Sliding Rock.” These often run out early on pretty weekends, and hikers venturing into the canyon should be prepared to climb more than 1,000 steps.
The paved Shortline Trail follows the scenic river and is perfect for families with young children. Tallulah Gorge is one of four Georgia State Parks in the Canyon Climbers Club quest.
Five spectacular waterfalls cascade through Tallulah Gorge: L’Eau d’Or, Tempesta, Hurricane, Oceana and Bridal Veil (Sliding Rock). All but Bridal Veil are visible from rim overlooks.
On most days, water flow over Tallulah Lake’s dam is 35 to 40 cubic feet per second (CFS). During “aesthetic releases,” the flow increases to 200 CFS. On select whitewater weekends in April and November, the flow swells to 500 to 700 CFS, causing waterfalls to thunder through the gorge. Hiking to the gorge bottom is not allowed on these dates, but visitors can enjoy the view from the rim.
Above the dam is a green-hued lake open to fishing, swimming and paddling. Visitors are welcome to bring their own canoes and kayaks, or they can rent them during ranger-led paddling tours.
The rugged Stoneplace Trail and High Bluff Trail are open to mountain bikers, while the Shortline Trail is better suited for casual bicyclists and even those with training wheels.
Those who love a challenge can join the Georgia State Parks’ Muddy Spokes Club, sending them on a quest to bike at a dozen parks across the state.
Picnicking, Playgrounds and Geocaching
A covered picnic shelter can be reserved for birthday parties, family reunions and other gatherings, plus several picnic tables can be found near the lake and visitor center. The park also offers playgrounds, geocaching and tennis.
Knowledgeable park rangers offer guided hikes, paddling tours, astronomy nights, Junior Ranger camps, Women’s Wilderness Weekends, holiday celebrations and numerous other programs throughout the year.
During the full moon, visitors can join kayak tours on the lake or hikes to the suspension bridge.
Where to Stay
Camping at Tallulah Gorge State Park
Campers can stay inside the park, choosing from 50 sites with electric and water hookups, plus hot showers.
Camping and Cabins at Black Rock Mountain State Park
Just north on Hwy. 441 in Clayton is Black Rock Mountain State Park with mountaintop cabins and campsites.