Fifteen minutes from Big Canoe and $5 per car – what a deal!
|A hike is fun for all ages. Ready to hit the trail are: (left to right) Miranda Lowrie, Anna Catharine McMullen, Jack Lowrie, Aidan McMullen and Oscar McMullen.|
Photos & copy by Melissa Lowrie
On a recent stunner of a summer day, the kids and I called some friends and made our way to Amicalola Falls State Park. Two moms and five kids (ages 5, 7, 9, 9 and 11) piled in my car for the quick fifteen minute ride to the park from Big Canoe.
Starting at the top of the falls, we began at the West Ridge Staircase. The more than 600 steps leading us to the bottom were mostly shaded and easy to navigate. Along the way we found not only incredible views of the falls - but also great spots to play. “Nature’s playground,” as my friend Mary Cay McMullen so perfectly stated.
Roughly half-way down there’s a bridge crossing over the falls – the perfect spot for a break and, on a hot day, a nice place to let the spray from the falls cool you down. It’s a great photo opportunity, as well. The day we were there, we had to dodge the tripods set up by serious photographers.
Once you make it down the steps there’s a downhill trail leading to the Reflection Pool. The pool is stocked and fishing contests are run there (anyone can fish with a permit). There’s also a parking area and picnic tables. The kids were amazed at the size of the tadpoles in the pond – and, I have to say, so were the moms – they were huge.
The above mentioned parking area came in especially handy for us, as I was voted to hike back up the trail (and 600 + stairs) to fetch the car, then drive back down and pick up the troops. It was not a problem, but take heed, when the trail is marked strenuous, it’s no joke. This is a good plan for groups with young kids; the hike back up would have been difficult for them. I myself was thankful for the many benches along the way.
After reuniting with my car and then my party, we headed down to the playground area for a picnic. Later the kids made their way to the creek for a salamander search.
This gem of a Georgia State Park covers 829 acres, with miles of well-maintained trails for every level of hiker. According to the park’s web site, the Cherokee Indians gave Amicalola its name for the “tumbling waters” found there.
For the cost of a daily parking pass (just $5) my group had a fun and economical day, not far from home. The kids all had a blast and were ready to make a plan to return as soon as possible. My party of seven gave our day at Amicalola a “fourteen-thumbs-up” rating. It doesn’t get any better than that.