13-16 June 2014: Tallulah Gorge State Park, Georgia

What a gem! For as long as we’ve been camping in Georgia, I think this is the first time we’ve ever been to this park, and I cannot for the life of me figure out why. It’s definitely my new favorite Georgia Park. And we’re not the only ones: Adventure Journal named this park as one of the top twenty state parks in the whole country. America’s Top State Parks.

Maybe we’ve never been here before because it’s a relatively new park, created in 1993, as a partnership between the State and Georgia Power. It’s small (only 2700 acres), the campground only has 50 spaces, and reserving a campsite requires one to call the office [what, no online option?] and mail in a check [how 1980s]. Some of the spaces, ours included, are N-A-R-R-O-W (like, barely wider than Ace with slides extended), and many of them are suitable only for tents or pop-ups (which are here in abundance). We had a little problem with rust in the water, which is apparently a problem attributable to the city water supply. So, if this were just a campground, it would definitely be ho-hum, at best.20140613 IMG_0050 (Custom)

But the campground is not the attraction. The main feature of the park is the Tallulah Gorge, a 1000-foot deep, two-mile long gash through solid rock, cut by the Tallulah River. Overlook trails take hikers to precarious perches atop sheer granite walls on either side of the gorge. Several trails descend to the gorge floor itself and one takes hikers on a suspension bridge 80 feet above the river. But for my failure to make reservations, we could have done a ranger-guided hike over the suspension bridge under the light of a full moon! There’s more: There’s a 60-acre lake (formed by the Georgia Power dam), and other hiking trails wind along the lake. One short combination walking-bike trail (paved) traces the path of the old Tallulah Falls Railroad. Plus, there’s a mountain bike trail, kayaking on the lake, and a beautiful beach. Numerous picnic tables along the shore are complemented by bench swings. This is the perfect place for families, an opinion validated by the fact that the campground playgrounds buzz with frenetic little kids and that each camp site seems to have an excess of bikes with training wheels.

Special water releases are made in April and November so that white-water kayakers can race down the canyon. “Aesthetic” releases are made during other times of the year so that visitors can see what the canyon was like before it was dammed up. There’s a wonderful “interpretive center,” with displays about the human and natural history of the area.

There’s just so much to like here. Beautiful trails: 20140613 IMG_0044 (Custom)

With stunning views of the gorge:20140613 IMG_0046 (Custom)

And, the highlight of the gorge, a hike down to a suspension bridge across the canyon:20140615 IMG_0064 (Custom)

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Eighty feet straight down!

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Nearby, a great swimming beach:

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And much, much more.

I was going to say, “We’ll definitely be back,” but it’s too late–we’ve already made reservations for this Fall, and given the pleasure of our last trip with the grandkids, we’ll see if we can drag one or more of them along for the experience. Stay tuned. More information about the park can be found here: Tallulah Gorge State Park.

The full photo album of the trip can be found here: Photo album.

Statistics for the trip:
Total miles: 370
Fuel cost/mileage: $163.45 / 8.50 mpg
Campground cost: $60 ($20 per night).

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