Top of the Falls

Friends of Amicalola helps to protect and preserve one of Georgia’s most iconic landmarks: Amicalola Falls. At 729 feet, this is the Southeast’s tallest cascade and a major tourist attraction in the north Georgia mountains. Preservation efforts and enhancements are the primary goals of Friends. In commitment to their mission, Friends put forth over $100,000 in contributions as well as volunteer support (and partnered with the park and Amicalola EMC) to improve the view of the falls by removing some overgrown trees and underbrush; conducted stream-bank restoration at the “top of the falls;” made improvements to the trails, bridges and overlooks; dredged the “base-of-falls” pond; and restored and re-established a trout stream habitat.

There were moments where this multi-year endeavor felt endless, but through dedication and stamina, Friends and the park succeeded.

Enhancements of the picnic areas along the banks of Amicalola Stream immediately upstream of the falls at Amicalola Falls State Park are completed.  Flanked by a parking area, picnic tables, and chairs, the area is a new focal point for picnicking and sightseeing visitors.  This frequently visited site has been beautifully enhanced by stabilization of the previously eroding stream banks, addition of fixed charcoal grills, and additional new picnic tables.

The most prominent new feature of the area is a wooden fence encircling this section of the stream.  Centrally located on both sides of the stream are wide flights of stairs providing access to the water’s edge.  Although wading is prohibited, natural level spots cribbed by restraining timbers on the banks make it possible to sit and enjoy a picnic or listen quietly to the stream’s music.  The stream bank, previously eroded in “access spots” chosen by waders, has been stabilized, and the stream flow retarded by strategically placed logs to create relatively deep “holes” producing “plunge pools” and channels of controlled rates of flow all for the purpose of creating a trout habitat.  Department of Natural Resources professionals oversaw the design and implementation of a new “nursery,” restoring a once-favorable environment for the spawning and growth of native trout.  Fishing, of course, is strictly prohibited in this short reach of the stream.

A complementary enhancement completed within the terms of the Top of the Falls Project was improvement of the view of the valley below the falls.  Over the years the leaning vegetation on the banks of the Amicalola Stream had increasingly encroached on the view from the wooden decking of the overlook.  Saplings and mature branches of larger trees have now been removed or cut back all the way to the West Ridge Trail below where it crosses the stream.  The vista has been vastly improved so that the West Ridge bridge, along with the valley beyond, is clearly visible from the summit.

Regular visitors to the Falls will no doubt find the pruning of vegetation a significant improvement to their appreciation of the view, and first-time visitors will be treated to an unobstructed view of the valley below.

Special thanks and recognition goes out to all those who have supported Friends with their generous financial contributions. Your generosity helps projects like this possible so that Friends can continue to preserve habitats, conserve our natural resources and enhance the beauty of Georgia’s greatest treasures. Thank you!