Today we left Chattanooga and Tennessee behind as we headed into Northeast Georgia, home to stunning scenery, waterfalls and mountains. Our destination was Amicalola Falls State Park which we were all excited to explore!
I planned a detour so we could make a lunch stop at Georgia’s Fort Mountain State Park; home to an ancient stone wall built by long-ago native inhabitants and a stone fire tower built by the Civilian Conservation Corp.
We arrived at the perfect time for lunch. After paying the small entrance fee, we wound up a wooded road to hiking trails and picnic shelters. Here, we enjoyed our cheese and cracker lunch before taking the short hike to see the ancient 855-long zig-zagging wall built around 500 AD. No one is quite certain why the wall was built or by whom exactly. More than 150 years of archaeologists and historians have worked to solve the mystery, however, there still are no definitive answers.
It was just a little further walk to reach the stone fire tower. From here we had beautiful views of the mountains that surrounded us. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize it was only open to visitors on the weekend! We were a bit disappointed, but still glad we made the stop. We definitely added Fort Mountain State Park to our “Must Visit” list as we loved the beautiful setting and wanted to check out more hiking trails.
Tip: Want to spend the night? Fort Mountain State Park offers 62 campsites and 15 fully-furnished cottages.
Continuing our scenic drive along the Appalachian Foothills Parkway, we drove through Ellijay, a quaint Southern town loaded with charm. From the road we saw unique shops, gracious old homes and restaurants. I wished that we had the time to stop and explore but again, added it to our “Must Visit” list.
Our next destination was Mountain Valley Farm, located just outside of Ellijay. To be sure we could turn around before we actually went down the 2-lane road, I called ahead. They said come on down!
Mountain Valley Farm specializes in Dry Aged Grass Fed Beef and Free Range Heritage Pork. They use no hormones, antibiotics, steroids, pesticides or chemical fertilizers. This is the real deal! Besides meat (we bought bacon, ground beef and steaks), they sell some dairy items (took home Three Graces Daily Handmade Goat Cheese) as well as some locally-made pantry items (We bought and adored Willy’s Dilly’s dill-pickle slices from Asheville, NC). Of course we had to enjoy a scoop (or two) of the handcrafted ice-cream they were serving up. Yum!
A half-hour later we pulled into Amicalola Falls State Park. Upon check-in, I was alerted that the road to the campground had a 25% grade. Advice from the Ranger? Do not stop or slow down!
The perilous drive was worth it! The small campground (only 24 sites) is lovely. Well-maintained. level and wooded, all sites offer shade and privacy. We got our all site set up, then went to go check out Amicalola Falls.
We decided that we would drive down to the parking area and take the West Ridge Falls Access hike (.03 miles). Along the way, we saw an old pick-up truck rusting away in the brush. How did it get there? We made up a few stories while we continued on.
The Falls Overlook is a great place to take in Amicalola Falls. The path crosses over the falls and if you follow the East Ridge Trail down some steps, you can reach a lower platform to get a different perspective.
Tip: The best way to enjoy the falls is to take the East Ridge Trail from the Visitors Center, cross over the falls at the Falls Overlook, then return via the Appalachian Approach Trail. It is a 2-mile round-trip moderate to strenuous hike.
Click Here to view a “Twin Views” from Amicalola Falls!
Once back to camp, it was the usual dinner, a walk around the campground and getting ready for the new day. Our exploration of Northern Georgia continues in the next RV Adventures with Kids post!