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Tag: Hiking Trails of Georgia

Creek Trail - Amicalola Falls State Park

by JP on Jan.26, 2009, under Georgia Hiking Trails

Amicalola Falls State Park

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 0.6 Miles

Blaze: Yellow

This will be the last trail I write about from Amicalola Falls State Park, or at least until I get back up there for the Springer Mountain Approach Trail.

Creek Trail completes the hiking loop that I have taken from the Visitor’s Center to the Falls, and back again.

Creek Trail essential runs from an area close to the Base of Falls parking area, and the reflection pond and then begins to run parallel to Amicalola Creek, and ends in the parking area opposite the Visitor’s Center.

At the top of this trail, near the Base of Falls parking area, Creek Trail runs along with Mountain Laurel Loop Trail, and descends Amicalola Ridge. Officially Creek Trail becomes its own trail once one hikes down a set of broken wooden stairs off of Mountain Laurel Loop Trail. Be careful with the stairs, especially if it is wet. They are slick and in disrepair.

IMG_1857 Creek Trail in Amicalola Falls State Park Creek Trail in Amicalola Falls State Park

From the bottom of these stairs, follow the sign and the yellow blazed trail down to the Visitor’s Center.

Creek Trail in Amicalola Falls State Park

The trail actually does not meet up with its namesake Amicalola Creek for some time, and when it finally reaches the Creek, it sits well above it along Amicalola Ridge for quite some time.In fact, the trail does not truly run close to the Creek until a little over half of the trails completion.

Despite this fact, the trail still provides a beautiful hike, and an excellent view of the lower portion of Amicalola State Park.

Prior to reaching the Creek, there is an interesting building, that appears to be made of concrete, to the right of the trail. I am not sure what the purpose of the building is, but it appears to have some maintenance purpose.

Creek Trail

Finally, just past this building some of the first views of the Creek can be seen in the distance.

Amicalola Creek Trail

While continuing down this trail, there will be a few short, steep switch backs, some of which can be quite tricky when wet, while others are well established staircases.

Creek Trail

These staircases and switchbacks will eventually lead the hiker down closer to Amicalola Creek. From here the trail continues to run almost completely parallel to the Creek.

IMG_1876 Creek Trail Amicalola Creek

The trail finally ends at a Creek crossing that puts the hiker in a Parking Area and Grassy Field just across from the Visitor’s Center.

Creek Trail at Amicalola Falls State Park Creek Trail at Amicalola Falls State Park Creek Trail at Amicalola Falls State Park

Nearby Trails

East Ridge Trail - 1.0 Miles

Base of Falls Trail - 1.0 Mles

Spring Trail - 0.4 Miles

Mt. Laurel Loop - 1.0 Miles

Appalachian Approach Trail - 8.5 Miles

Hike Inn Trail - 5 miles

West Ridge Falls Access Trail -0.3 Miles

Directions from Ellijay:

Follow GA-52 approximately 21 miles to Amicalola Falls State Park.

Directions from Dawsonville:

Take Hwy. 53 west to Hwy. 183 north to Hwy. 52 east.

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Fort Mountain State Park - Old Fort Trails

by JP on Jan.14, 2009, under Georgia Hiking Trails, Hiking Trails

Panoramic Fort Mountain Overlook

Length: Slightly over 1.1 miles

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Blazes: Red, Blue, Yellow

The Old Fort Trails at Fort Mountain State Park is a combination of three trails that are in the same area, and can be made into a few different combinations of hiking loops.

Each trail has its own unique features and benefits, and as such, I will cover each individually, then discuss the path I believe provides for a great combination loop.

The trails that make up the Old Fort Trails are the CCC Stone Tower Trail, the West Overlook Trail, and the Stone Wall Trail.

Stone Wall Trailhead - Fort Mountain Stone Tower Trail Red Blaze - Fort Mountain

To begin this hike, I suggest starting with the CCC Stone Tower Trail that is an uphill climb which will first arrive at the Stone Wall.

The CCC Stone Tower trail head begins near the parking area. The trail head starts with a red blaze, and slowly climbs up a rocky path.

Fort Mountain

This path is made up of several rocky staircases and is an easy to moderate climb.

Fort Mountain - Tower Trail

Fort Mountain - Tower Trail Fort Mountain - Tower Trail

Fort Mountain - Tower Trail

Approximately halfway up the CCC Stone Tower Trail the hiker will intersect the Stone Wall Trail. This is where I suggest the first detour.

Stone Wall Fort Mountain Stone Wall - Fort Mountain Fort Mountain Steps

Fort Mountain Fort Mountain

Instead of continuing along the CCC Stone Tower trail, climb to the top of the rocky wall, and read the marker about the legend of the Moon People and about some interesting theories on the creation of the stone wall. From here, take a right down the Stone Wall Trail.

Fort Mountain Stone Wall

Fort Mountain Stone Wall Fort Mountain Stone Wall Fort Mountain Stone Wall

Fort Mountain Stone Wall Fort Mountain Stone Wall

This trail runs parallel to the mystery stone wall. Along this trail, one can see  the true extent of this wall, and some of its more unique features, the “love” nests that periodically dot the wall. These nests, like the wall itself are a bit of a mystery, and only local legends can be relied on as to their reason for existence.

Take in one of Georgia’s interesting mysteries as you follow along the blue blazed trail. At the end of the Trail, the trail will again intersect a portion of the CCC Stone Tower Trail.

This time take a left and return onto the CCC Stone Tower Trail, marked by a red blaze.

Keep  your eyes open in these forest, last time I hiked here, I was surprised to find two white tail dear grazing in these woods. They apparently had little fear of hikers, as they never darted off (although I did keep my distance).

CCC Tower Trail - Fort Mountain

CCC Stone Tower Trail -Fort Mountain

Continue down this trail and you will reach the park’s namesake Tower. This large stone tower is an interesting site, and one can enter the bottom of it, although the top is chained off and boarded up.

CCC Tower - Fort Mountain

Take a look around the Tower, or take a seat on one of the near park benches for a short rest.

Once finished enjoying the Tower, head straight across the opening from where you entered the area. The red blazes will continue for a short time before turning into yellow blazes as you begin a descent towards the West Overlook.

Western Overlook  - Fort Mountain Western Overlook - Fort Mountain Western Overlook - Fort Mountain

Western Overlook Trail - Fort Mountain Western Overlook Trail - Fort Mountain

The West Overlook is at the end of several sets of stairs. Once your arrive at the Overlook, you will be able to see a 180 degree, unobstructed view for miles. of the Chattahoochee National Forest and Chatsworth, Georgia.

IMG_1950

Western Overlook - Fort MountainWestern Overlook - Fort Mountain

Western Overlook - Fort Mountain Western Overlook - Fort Mountain

This may be one of the best overlooks in all of Georgia, mainly due to the face that there is little to nothing obstructing the views.Be careful while on the Overlook, however, the wind can get pretty hard up there.

Once finished with the Overlook, proceed back up the first set of steps, and notice a large boulder marked with a red blaze on your right. Follow along this ridge until it intersects back up with the West Overlook Trail (yellow blaze).

Western Overlook Trail - Fort Mountain Western Overlook Trail - Fort Mountain

Follow back along this ridge and enjoy the boulders in the area, including the other end end of the Stone Wall, This last portion of the Overlook Trail provides for some additional views of the Chattahoochee National Forest area.

Western Overlook Trail - Fort Mountain Western Overlook Trail - Fort Mountain Western Overlook Trail - Fort Mountain

Western Overlook Trail - Fort Mountain Western Overlook Trail - Fort Mountain Western Overlook Trail - Fort Mountain

Western Overlook Trail - Fort Mountain

The trails ends in the parking area close to where you started this hike.

Old Fort Trails - Fort Mountain Picnic Area

Nearby Trails:

Big Rock Trail - 0.5 miles

Gahuti Trail - 8.8 miles

Lake Trail - 1.2 mile loop

301 Biking Trail - 14.6 mile loop

Gold Mine Loop Biking Trail - 6.3 miles

Directions:

1. Follow I-75 to exit # 333 towards 411

2. Take GA Hwy. 52 8 miles past Chatsworth onto Fort Mountain

3. Turn left onto park entrance.

4. Once in park, Stay straight, and keep right towards Old Fort (not towards Lake area).

Fort Mountain State Park

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Spring Trail - Amicalola Falls

by JP on Jan.11, 2009, under Georgia Hiking Trails

Spring Trail

Length: 0.4 Miles

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate (Downhill but technically a little challenging)

Blaze: Orange

The Spring Trail is a short trail that runs from the West Ridge Falls Access Parking area (opposite of the West Ridge Falls Access Trail) down to the Mountain Laurel Loop Trail.

Spring Trail Trailhead at Amicalola Falls Spring Trail - Amicalola Falls Spring Trail

The trail is completely downhill, and takes hikers through the forest area that is very rocky, and contains several steep switchbacks.

Spring Trail Spring Trail Spring Trail

As the hiker continues down the trail, watch your step, on an even slightly wet day this trail can be extremely muddy. If it has rained within a few days of hiking here, I suggest saving this trail for a dryer day.

Spring Trail Spring Trail

Continue along this trail following the Orange Blazes, down several wooden stair cases before arriving at the Intersection of Mountain Laurel Loop Trail.

Spring Trail - Orange Blaze Spring Trail Spring Trail

Spring Trail Spring Trail Spring Trail

At this intersection is where the Spring Trail Ends, continuing left or right will take the hiker down Moutain Laurel Loop Trail, and then to Creek Trail. Creek Trail runs between the Visitor’s Center and the Reflection Pond at the base of Amicalola Falls.

I suggest take the leftward path way as it is brings the hiker closer to the Creek Trail and the Reflection Pond.

Nearby Trails

East Ridge Trail - 1.0 Miles

Creek Trail - 0.6 Miles

Mt. Laurel Loop - 1.0 Miles

Appalachian Approach Trail - 8.5 Miles

Hike Inn Trail - 5 miles

West Ridge Falls Access Trail - 0.3 Miles

Base of Falls Trail - 1.0 Miles

Directions from Ellijay:

Follow GA-52 approximately 21 miles to Amicalola Falls State Park.

Directions from Dawsonville:

Take Hwy. 53 west to Hwy. 183 north to Hwy. 52 east.

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Amicalola Falls - West Ridge Falls Access

by JP on Jan.10, 2009, under Georgia Hiking Trails

Amicalola Falls

Length: 0.3 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Blaze: White

The West Ridge Falls Access is a shorter approach to trail to Amicalola Falls. The upside to the trail is that it is a quick walk to a beautiful waterfall. The downside is that you miss out on the hike alongside Amicalola Creek, and the reflection pool at base of the falls.

The hike along the West Ridge Falls Access Trail runs along the ridge of Amicalola Mountain. The pathway is made up of recycled tire, and is very soft on the feet.

West Ridge Trailhead West Ridge Amicalola Falls Access Trail Amicalola Trail Material

The trail begins at a parking area that straddles West Ridge Falls Access Trail and Spring Trail.  Along the ridge, one can see a beautiful forest.

Amicalola Falls West Ridge

Amicalola Falls West Ridge

As the trail approaches the falls, it begins running parallel to Amicalola Creek below. From the height of the ridge, there are beautiful vistas of the valley below.

West Ridge Falls Access Trail

Follow the West Ridge Trail’s white blazes, and just before the Top of Falls Access stairs. There is an old truck  relatively intact wedged between some trees. I cannot fathom how this vehicle ended up where it is, but it is one of two vehicles or portions of vehicles I saw while at Amicalola State Park that I could not figure out how they reached their final resting point (the other vehicle is under the stairs on the Base of Falls Trail, and had obviously been there long before the stairs were installed.

West Ridge Falls Access Truck

Just before the trail arrives at the falls is another set of stairs that goes to the Top of the Falls. This West Ridge Stair provides for a long 425 step climb, which is more worth while on a clear day.  Look down below the stairs for some wonderful views of Amicalola Creek.

West Ridge Falls Access

West Ridge Staircase

West Ridge Staircase

IMG_1778

Continue a few feet past the stairs, and the cascading Amicalola Falls opens up. The bridge/ overlook that straddles Amicalola Creek is a wonderful point to enjoy the falls from.  To return to the trailhead, simply turn around and follow the path. For some more hiking continue past the overlook to the long descent of stairs that is part of the Base of Falls Trail.

Amicalola Falls Amicalola Falls

Notes:

The West Ridge Falls Access Trail is a nice short trail if you just want to see the Falls quickly, but for a more enjoyable hike, although somewhat more strenuous, I have to recommend taking the Base of Falls Trail. If limited on time, start the Base of Falls Trail from the Reflection Pond parking area, and skip the true trailhead hike from the Visitor’s Center. You will miss out on some views of Amicalola Creek.

Nearby Trails:

Base of Falls Trail - 1.0 Mile

Spring Trail - 0.4 Mile

Creek Trail - 0.6 Mile

Mountain Laurel Trail - 1.0 Mile

Driving Directions:

Directions from Ellijay:

Follow GA-52 approximately 21 miles to Amicalola Falls State Park.

Directions from Dawsonville:

Take Hwy. 53 west to Hwy. 183 north to Hwy. 52 east.

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Amicalola Falls - Base of Falls Trail

by JP on Dec.29, 2008, under Georgia Hiking Trails

Amicalola Falls

Distance: 1.0 Miles (one way)

Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous

The Visitor’s Center to Amicalola Falls State Park is a great place to begin the approach to Georgia’s highest waterfall. While it is possible to drive very close to the falls and hike to the falls along the very short West Ridge Falls Access, hiking from the Visitor’s Center provides a more challenging hike, wonderful views of the entire state park and Little Amicalola Creek, and is the true beginning to the Appalachian Approach Trail to Springer Mountain.

To begin the trail, enter the Visitor’s Center (be sure to check out the live Georgia snake exhibit) and exit through the rear door of the center. Grab a map of the park on the way out too. After exiting, the hiker will immediately notice a large stone archway, and signs indicating the direction of Springer Mountain, Mount Katahdin, Maine, and the Amicalola Lodge.

Amicalola Falls - Appalachian Approach Amicalola Falls Appalachian Trail

The signs indicating the direction of the Base of Falls Trail is somewhat confusing. To begin the trail, do not go up the wooden steps, take an immediate left before the sign and the steps. Follow the blue blazes up the trail.

Amicalola Falls Amicalola Falls

Amicalola Falls

The Base of Falls Trail leads parallel to the Park Entrance road, beside several picnic shelters, and an amphitheater. The trail then crosses over a wooden walkway before crossing the road.

Amicalola Falls Amicalola Falls Amicalola Falls

After crossing the road, the trail then runs alongside Little Amicalola Creek.

Amicalola Falls Amicalola Falls Amicalola Falls

Amicalola Creek

Amicalola Creek

Continue along the trail to the left of the picnic shelter, over the creek, and around the ridge of the parking lot.

Amicalola Creek Amicalola Creek Amicalola Creek

Amicalola Falls IMG_1603 IMG_1607

You will arrive at the base of the Waterfall Trail which contains a beautiful reflection pool filled by Amicalola Creek, and surrounded by several informative signs about the wildlife in the area.

Amicalola

After enjoying the reflection pond, cross over the bridge and Amicalola Creek. From here, the real climb to the falls starts, and so do the best views. From here, the pathway is made up of a rough mixture of concrete, which provides great traction along a path that can be very slick with moisture.

Amicalola Falls Amicalola Amicalola Falls

Amicalola Amicalola Amicalola

Amicalola

IMG_1653

Amicalola Falls

Be aware, prior to reaching the falls there are two somewhat steep switchbacks. At the top of the first, a potentially wonderful view of the valley opens up. Unfortunately, on my last hike, there was a heavy fog, and the view is less than outstanding (although still enjoyable).

Amicalola Falls Amicalola Amicalola

Finally,  you reach the first observation deck, the Lower Observation Platform. From here, there is a beautiful first view of the falls.

Amicalola Falls

Amicalola Falls

Amicalola Falls

Amicalola Falls

Amicalola Falls

The views of the tallest drop of Amicalola falls, however, only gets better after you accept the “challenge” of the “175 Steps.”

Amicalola Falls Amicalola Falls

Up, up, and Up the stairs, and then finally, the Falls Overlook.

IMG_1719 Amicalola Falls Amicalola Falls

Amicalola Falls

Amicalola Falls

Don’t forget to turnaround and see the view of your hike.

Amicalola Falls

This marks the end of the Base of Falls Trail. For a different route back, I suggest the West Ridge Trail to the parking area, then crossing over the parking area to the Spring Trail. The Spring Trail will intersect with Creek Trail and Mt. Laurel Loop. Follow these trails back to the Visitor’s Center.

Nearby Trail

East Ridge Trail - 1.0 Miles

Creek Trail - 0.6 Miles

Spring Trail - 0.4 Miles

Mt. Laurel Loop - 1.0 Miles

Appalachian Approach Trail - 8.5 Miles

Hike Inn Trail - 5 miles

West Ridge Falls Access Trail - 0.3 Miles

Directions from Ellijay:

Follow GA-52 approximately 21 miles to Amicalola Falls State Park.

Directions from Dawsonville:

Take Hwy. 53 west to Hwy. 183 north to Hwy. 52 east.

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