Tallulah Gorge State Park (located near Clarkesville, Cornelia and Toccoa) is truly one of the most spectacular canyons in the eastern US. It’s two miles long and nearly 1,000 feet deep. We always hike the rim trails because Wessy is not allowed on the steps that go down into the gorge. Honestly, the hike down is strenuous and I would not want her to go down to the floor. So, I guess we could say that the Tallulah Gorge floor is dogless!
Last Friday, I only had a short time to go for a short “hike” and I thought of the gorge because it is close and it is always challenging. The path that leads to the south rim overlooks is very easy but it does have some ups and downs. You can get a free permit (limit 100 per day) to hike down to the gorge floor and we have done this several times. Views from the South Rim Trail includes the gorge, and the floor along with several waterfalls. You do see the dam that holds back the water of the Tallulah River which forms Tallulah Falls Lake.
A really fun suspension bridge sways 80 feet above the rocky bottom, providing spectacular views of the river and waterfalls. Getting down to it is not hard. (Getting back up is.) From there a short hike will take you down to Hurricane Falls. The problem for most people is getting back out of the gorge. I always say, “What goes down must come back up!”
These steps just go down to an overlook and then on to the south side of the gorge. The south side is also the older trail. In fact, I actually remember walking part of it when I was a very young girl.
Wessy had to stay on lead on this walk. I dropped it long enough to take these two photos; but to her total disappointment, she had to walk with me.
We are sitting on one of the original benches along the older part of the park.
Looking beyond the boulders and over to the wall on the north side of the gorge. No one knows for sure who the first person was to enter the gorge, but most believe it was an “Indian trader.” Early visitors claim to have observed initials carved on a beech tree, with the date “1718.” This matches accounts of Scots-Irish fur traders originating out of Charleston, SC, who lived among the Cherokee people around that time.
Tallulah Gorge and surrounding lands were in the domain of the Cherokee Indians until 1817, when the United States government acquired them by treaty. Then in 1820, the State of Georgia sold the land in blocks by lottery. Soon, homesteads began to appear near the gorge.
It is an awesome place! It also is scary to think about, but “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.