Y’all, we live in a beautiful state! One of Georgia’s nicknames is the State of Adventure. Georgia has so many things that call out to those with a spirit of adventure. From the Wiregrass, to the mountains, to the Golden Isles, there is something for everyone.
I was thinking about all of this during our recent adventure. The family and I went to Tallulah Gorge State Park for a camping trip. The camping spot was just $18 a night. I had visited Tallulah Gorge many times as a boy, but I had never been to the state park. The facilities were nice with hiking trails, playground, and clean bathrooms. After setting up the tent, we hit the trails. The Northern Rim took us to several overlooks and a beautiful visitor’s center. After we made our way back, a lady camping near us asked about our adventure. She told us that she had gone down into the gorge and how nice it was. She told us that the park only allows 100 visitors a day to hike the bottom and you have to get a pass to go into the gorge.
It didn’t take long before that seed began to grow. Suddenly it became a top priority for my oldest son, and the trip would not be complete unless we made it to the floor. Saturday morning would bring out many hikers so it was important that we were in line before the visitor’s center was open.
We were in the top 100 when the doors opened, and we were sent to a room with a park ranger. The ranger asked how many people had been on the hike previously. Several raised their hand, and the ranger said, “And y’all are back?” He warned about the potential to fall 50 feet over Oceana Falls if we were not careful. He told us about rattlesnakes and added that rescue attempts can often take as long as six hours due to the difficult terrain of the gorge. I felt like I had been a victim of a bait and switch scheme.
We loaded our pack down with water and trail mix and then journeyed down the road less traveled. Tallulah Gorge has several waterfalls, and you can see three when you go into the bottom. To get to the bottom, we had to cross a suspension bridge and go down over 600 steps. Once we got to the bottom of the stairs, we opened a gate and proceeded. We left the civilization of stairs for primitive rocks, water, and woods. The trail is not clearly marked like the Northern Rim. We passed a pair of fighting skinks on the rock as we jumped from bolder to bolder across the water to get to the side. Not far into the hike, we found a family that warned us about a snake that they had seen.
There were some areas that were steep and tricky, but the views of the falls from the bottom were nothing short of breath taking. When we got to the end of the trail, there was an area where people were swimming and playing. There was a natural water slide made from a slick rock that attracted lots of kids.
Parts of our journey were pretty tricky to navigate and the rest at the end of the trail was rewarding. We opted to journey back along “Sliding Rock Trail.” This was a different style of hiking altogether with challenging vertical climbs that would test experienced hikers. It is funny how the energy of youth can boost kids down a gorge and back up a mountain with equal exuberance. My wife and I took a little more time. At the end of the hike, it was an incredible feeling to see how far we had walked along the bottom and how high we climbed. To think that we did it all as a family is what made it all the better.
We Georgians have mountains to climb, waves to surf, and rivers to canoe. There is adventure around every corner, and it does not have to cost an arm and a leg to create memories that are priceless. Get out there!
Written by Bill Waller. Mr. Waller is a author and contributor local blog, Southwest Georgia Politics. He enjoys writing, traveling, and researching history. He currently resides in Albany, Georgia.