52 Hike Challenge – Hike 11 – Amicalola Falls

In my hike 10 post, I mentioned that committing to the 52 Hike Challenge had pushed me to focus more on my diet and fitness. I chose CrossFit as my method to get more trail fit, so I was super pumped when my gym organized a hiking trip to Amicalola Falls this weekend.

Amicalola Falls is the tallest waterfall in Georgia (actually tallest east of the Mississippi at 729 feet) and is included in pretty much every list of best hikes in Georgia that I’ve seen! Amicalola was named by the Cherokee who lived in this area pre-Trail of Tears and the word means “tumbling waters”. Amicalola State Park now serves as a popular starting or ending point for Appalachian Trail thru-hikers, being only about 8 miles by trail from Springer Mountain, the official start/end point.

There are several trails in the park. Our group chose to hike from the Visitor’s Center to the top of the falls via the Amicalola Falls Trail, then traversed the Fitness Trail (perfect for CrossFitters with 20 exercise stations along the one mile loop), and returned to the Visitor’s Center via the last mile of the Southern Terminus Approach Trail, also known as the East Ridge Trail.

The Amicalola Falls Trail is considered moderate to difficult in part because of the 425 stairs leading to the top. Luckily we’re used to lunging and stepping/jumping onto objects so we were in good shape for so many stairs (but it was still tiring and sweaty)! You are right on top of the water action the whole way up, so even if you want to stop and take a breather on one of the many benches on the stairs, you still have a great view. The view from the top of the falls is spectacular, looking the 700+ feet down, and the Blue Ridge Mountain foothills in the distance. We were lucky to catch a clear day and could see forever. And FYI, conveniently there is a bathroom at the top of the falls.

At the top of the falls we stopped at a small creek that was perfect for having a snack and a few of us dunked out feet in the freezing cold but refreshing water.

After this little breather we hit the Fitness Trail. If you skip all the exercises this trail is a cinch, nice and flat, and wide/clearly marked. We got to show off our fitness tricks along the wat and had extra fun at the pullup bars.

Having completed the Fitness Trail we headed back to our cars via the rocky and moderately steep East Ridge Trail. This trail gave us some awesome views of the Blue Ridge foothills before descending into forest and eventually reaching the Visitor’s Center.

Only about three miles of distance covered in this hike, but quite a bit of elevation made this a great workout for a Sunday afternoon. There were some first time hikers in the group which was especially fun. What a great first hiking experience to conquer a tough trail and see a magnificent waterfall! Hopefully the hiking bug grabs them like it has me! Have you hiked Amicalola or other Georgia waterfalls? Tell me about it in the comments!

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