Where: Tallulah Falls, Georgia
Trip Date: 9/26/17
Two weeks ago I spent a day hiking through Tallulah Gorge in northeast Georgia. Last week I gave a brief history of the gorge, and today—as promised—I will talk a bit about the hike.
Early Morning at Tallulah Gorge
We arrived at Tallulah Gorge State Park early in the morning in an effort not to melt in the afternoon heat. The park offers over 20 miles of recreational trails—though we had no intention of covering all of them. We started with the surface trails along the north rim. The overlooks offer stunning views of the opposite rim and deep into the gorge floor, which can reach depths of nearly 1000 feet in certain places.
It was an odd sensation looking into the gorge and seeing birds soaring gracefully beneath me.
A Walk Across the Gorge
In the summer of 1970, 65-year old Karl Wallenda—an established circus performer—participated in a daring stunt at Tallulah Gorge. Nearly 35000 visitors crowded around the gorge to watch Wallenda walk across a 1000-foot span of steel cable—less than two inches in diameter—stretched from the north rim to the south rim. He completed the walk in slightly less than 18 minutes, completing two handstands along they way, suspended 750 feet above the gorge floor.
“I think I want to look down. But I think I better not.”
-Karl Wallenda, July 18, 1970
The 40-foot north tower that anchored one end of Wallenda’s cable is still visible at one of the many overlooks. Looking down from that location into the gorge reminds me why I will never walk high wires.
Into the Gorge
After admiring the views from the North Rim trails, we decided to venture into the depths of Tallulah Gorge. We proceeded down approximately 550 stair steps down to the gorge floor near Hurricane Falls. Our intention was to hike along the floor by the river for a while, but after walking several miles along the rim, we decided to save our energy for the climb back out of the gorge. So we enjoyed the view of the falls and the gorge walls for a while before beginning our ascent.
Of course, 550 steps down means 550 steps back up. After a few breathers, I managed to make it back to the top after climbing probably the most steps I have ever climbed at one time in my life. Somehow I survived to tell my tale.
- The endangered flower species Persistent Trillium is found only in and around Tallulah Gorge.