See 1 of Georgia’s 7 Natural Wonders, state’s tallest cascading waterfall

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — Librarian Ella May Thornton compiled a list of Georgia’s Seven Natural Wonders in 1926 for Atlanta Georgian magazine. Nearly 100 years later, many of her picks remain as some of the state’s most impressive sights.

Tumbling 729 feet, Amicalola Falls ranks as the tallest cascading waterfall in Georgia and in the Southeast. Thornton named Amicalola Falls as one of the state’s natural wonders.

The falls offer hikers several experiences, too. Ten trails begin within Amicolaloa Falls State Park. Most visitors come to see the falls, and those visitors have two options for viewing. Guests can park at the bottom of the falls and make the climb up. The bottom of the falls is just a few steps away from the parking lot, but to get a truly spectacular view of the falls, it’s going to require some climbing. There are more than 600 stairs from the bottom parking lots to the top of the falls, though there are several breathtaking beauty shots of the falls at stops along the climb. And of course, once hikers complete the climb to the top, visitors have to descend those same 600 stairs to the bottom.

For those looking for a shorter path to the falls, grab a map and snacks at the visitors center at the base of the falls and make the drive up to the top of the falls. There’s a lodge there where visitors can park and make the short walk over to the top of the tumbling waters. A few other great shots of the falls can be enjoyed on a moderate climb down the stairs.

Pets are welcome on the climb, but the metal platform staircase was made in such a manner that small paws could get stuck in the steps.

The falls itself are the focal point of the 829-acre park, but there are plenty of other adventures at Amicalola Falls State Park. There are 12 miles of hiking trails for all skill levels, geocaching, picnicking, seasonal fishing, a playground and ranger programs.

For those looking to stay more than a day, there's the previously mentioned lodge and conference center at the top of the falls, which has 56 rooms. There are 14 cottages to rent and 24 tent, trailer and RV campsites available. And for those looking for an extraordinary adventure, there's the 20-room Hike Inn.

People wanting to stay at the Hike Inn will be doing just that before spending the night. To get to the inn, guests must make the five-mile hike from the top of Amicalola Falls to the Inn. The hike takes between two and four hours to complete and is rated as easy to moderate. Guests will cross small streams and traverse mild ridges along the way.

It will come as no surprise that Amicalola Falls is busiest during the fall, when the leaves are changing colors. Overnight reservations, even for one weeknight, can be tough to come by during the fall. But the spring represents another great chance to visit as the flowers start blooming. There is a $5.00 fee per vehicle to enter the park.