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Amicalola Falls

Not all adventures have to be far away from home. Sometimes the best explorations happen in your own state or country. Just a few hours drive from where I live, north Georgia is chock full of waterfalls. No matter where your throw your hat, it will probably land on or near a waterfall. Although that is slight exaggeration, Georgia does have a ton of them and quantifying them is hard because there is so much unknown when it comes to private land. But what can be known is that Georgia has a pretty tall one and I got to visit it for the second time! Amicalola Falls, located in Dawsonville, is a 729 feet beauty that just cascades over so many rocks and is just a stunner. The etymology of Amicalola comes from the Native American Cherokee tribe that inhabited this area and translates into “tumbling waters.” What a lovely word picture! Check out my experience visiting the tallest waterfall in Georgia

On my first visit, everything was freezing cold and covered in a layer of ice so I never got to trek to see the falls for fear of falling to my death. I struggle to maintain my equilibrium on a good, dry day so I decided to not risk my neck until I had safer conditions. Flash forward to 2018 and I got to visit this beauty again in the gloomy, cold and wet weather. Despite the lack of rain that we have experienced in Georgia, the falls were gushing with water and I happened to go on a very gloomy, rain projected day.

After getting out bright and early, the car was parked at the top of the Falls and I had to mentally sike myself up for the descent of the 425 steps, also known as in my mind as the “stairs of death,” to reach the observation deck at the middle of the falls. Even the sign said “strenuous” and in shape, I am not. As I mentioned earlier, I have a terrible fear of falling to my death. It’s completely logical in my mind. I am not scared of heights per se because if I feel secure behind a 20 foot fence, I am fine. It’s the thought of me just plummeting through the air and ultimately dying of a heart attack or reaching the bottom – whichever comes first. That being said, the stairs were grated metal and my heart could not handle being able to see the steep mountain decline through the steps. I was bracing myself tightly on the railings and going down each of the 425 like your 90 year old geriatric grandmother.

Visiting the tallest waterfall in Georgia at Amicalola Falls in Dawsonville, Georgia

Visiting the tallest waterfall in Georgia at Amicalola Falls in Dawsonville, Georgia

This photo is the fakest smile you will ever see. Maybe we were midway. I immediately regretted every life decision I ever made. I may have even forgotten who I was at this point. The face never lies.

Visiting the tallest waterfall in Georgia at Amicalola Falls in Dawsonville, Georgia

Visiting the tallest waterfall in Georgia at Amicalola Falls in Dawsonville, Georgia

425 steps of death.

Y’all, I am not kidding when I say that when I finally hit the bottom, I had a moment of silence to thank God that He brought me through such a trial. And in case you were wondering, yes I am this dramatic in real life. And yes, I admit I am a huge chicken. I accept my faults.

But oh the observation desk of Amicalola was sure worth the descent of torture. Feeling the mist hitting you in the face, hearing the loud roar of the powerful movement, and just experiencing the “tumbling waters” the Cherokees so aptly named it was exhilarating. It was calming. It was nature at it’s finest.

Visiting the tallest waterfall in Georgia at Amicalola Falls in Dawsonville, Georgia

Visiting the tallest waterfall in Georgia at Amicalola Falls in Dawsonville, Georgia

But if you are reading this and you think, “Man, I don’t think I can climb down 425 steps no matter how beautiful the waterfall.” Well let’s learn from my rookie mistake. Upon entry into the state park, the lovely park ranger gives you a nifty little brochure map with trails clearly marked for hiking, getting to the falls, etc. I gave it a cursory glance when I first got it but immediately tossed it in my car console because I am practiced adventurer who didn’t need a map. I knew my path I was taking – the stairs of death. “Maps are for noobs,” I scoffed inwardly to myself. As stories go, if I would have paid closer attention to the map, I would have noticed a more accessible trail to the observation deck that is an ADA pathway! My punishment for my lack of humility was felt for many days after. My legs were like absolute jello the next 3-4 days after just descending down the 425 steps. Luckily my mom took pity on the girl with the bum knee (that’s me!), took one for the team, and climbed back up the stairs of death to the car. I got to take the much tamer and even grounded ADA pathway and meet her in her blessed chariot. She is a saint I tell you and she really loves me unconditionally, y’all because I can just imagine the torture of ascending the stairs of death.

Here are four different ways to see the “tumbling waters” of the tallest waterfall in Georgia:

1. At the vista at the top of the falls where you can watch the water just as it rushes over the side of the mountain.

Visiting the tallest waterfall in Georgia at Amicalola Falls in Dawsonville, Georgia

Visiting the tallest waterfall in Georgia at Amicalola Falls in Dawsonville, Georgia

2. Via the 425 steps (aka the stairs of death) where you get to walk down the side of the mountain and see the waterfall as you descend in the trees. For the adventurous hikers or the naive travel bloggers who didn’t research the trails before hand.

3. Park at the access point and take the ADA accessible trail that leads you directly to the middle of the falls observation deck. It’s smooth, rubberized ground made from recycled tires and was quite a peaceful little walk.

Visiting the tallest waterfall in Georgia at Amicalola Falls in Dawsonville, Georgia

Visiting the tallest waterfall in Georgia at Amicalola Falls in Dawsonville, Georgia

Visiting the tallest waterfall in Georgia at Amicalola Falls in Dawsonville, Georgia

4. You can see the full falls from a distance at the bottom of the mountain at the reflection pool. You truly can see the height of the falls from this spot!

Visiting the tallest waterfall in Georgia at Amicalola Falls in Dawsonville, Georgia

So learn from my cockiness and choose the path that best suits your adventurer’s heart.


 shop the post and my recs for your Amicalola Falls trip!

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As always, ideas and opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own.
Sami Mastrario
Sami Mastrario

The cool aunt. Plant novice who loves to travel to cool places, eat unadventurous food, and take pretty photos.

Find me on: Instagram


  1. Anuradha Goyal
    February 21, 2018 / 11:59 am

    Waterfalls always make you trek a bit to reveal themselves in full glory. Both me and my husband love visiting waterfalls.

    • Sami Mastrario
      February 21, 2018 / 2:31 pm

      Yes – it was worth all the crazy stairs that is for sure!

  2. February 21, 2018 / 1:25 pm

    I have told myself so many times “this summer I will have staycation and explore my own country” – haven’t happened yet. AND I live in Norway – can you imagine that?? But one day I will!

    • Sami Mastrario
      February 21, 2018 / 2:32 pm

      Norway?! How incredibly amazing that you get to live in such a beautiful place. I cannot wait to go there one day!!

  3. February 21, 2018 / 2:19 pm

    Your photography is beautiful! this isn’t too far from me! im in florida but it could be a fun roadtrip!

    • Sami Mastrario
      February 21, 2018 / 2:35 pm

      Ah thanks! It’s all the way up in North Georgia so I definitely think you can make it a weekend trip. Just hit up some murals in ATL (Cabbagetown neighborhood) on the way and it will be worth it!

  4. Neha Kulshrestha
    February 21, 2018 / 3:19 pm

    I know how it hurts to trek all the way to waterfalls, but its all worth when you see the magnificent views and feel so small. You would surely love Watkins Glen and other waterfalls in NY finger lakes area.

    • Sami Mastrario
      February 21, 2018 / 3:21 pm

      Ah I wish I could just pop up there and explore upper NY! That would be such an incredible trip!

  5. February 21, 2018 / 5:59 pm

    Gosh your photos are just gorgeous, you’re hugely talented I love them! I’m so glad you shared this post, I ADORE waterfalls! I’m so glad you made it through your fears to reach the top, nice one! Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂 (p.s. I love your coat)

    • Sami Mastrario
      February 21, 2018 / 6:18 pm

      Ah thank you so very much! Yes it was so worth it. And I am obsessed with the coat. I purposely sent the link to the exact color so my mom wouldn’t get a different color.

  6. February 21, 2018 / 7:28 pm

    Good for you for conquering your fears. Look at the gorgeous photos you were rewarded with 🙂

    • Sami Mastrario
      February 21, 2018 / 10:19 pm

      Yes – despite all of my dramatics, it was definitely worth the memory (and the photos!)

  7. February 21, 2018 / 7:53 pm

    I like to go hiking a lot by where I live. Sometimes I don’t have the luxury of traveling too far away. And you’re lucky because I wish I had a waterfall like this close by!

    • Sami Mastrario
      February 21, 2018 / 10:21 pm

      Well close is across the huge state of Georgia four hours away. I just suck it up and make the drive because it is worth it!

  8. dysalut
    February 21, 2018 / 8:10 pm

    My goodness! I’d probably pass out if I had seen that bear sign. My bf loves hiking and although I love the sights of nature, I’m deathly afraid of falling to my death as well and of bears! But that sight and your pictures are beautiful. Thanks for overcoming your fears and sharing this beautiful site with us.

    • Sami Mastrario
      February 21, 2018 / 10:22 pm

      Seeeee! Falling to my death is legitimate and I appreciate you validating that fear. My friends thing I am wacky! And no bear sightings so that was a plus! ?

  9. February 22, 2018 / 4:17 am

    The falls look beautiful and I really admire your determination to get down the steps! I have to say, it would coming back up them again that I wouldn’t enjoy. I’d have been with you on the trail.
    I’ve never seen a rubber trail before….very interesting.

    • Sami Mastrario
      February 22, 2018 / 8:28 am

      Believe me – I was terrified of going back up and got so lucky I had a moma that took pity on me! and The trail almost looked like concrete but had a little give to it so I imagine it is better for walking!

  10. February 22, 2018 / 7:29 am

    I chuckled out loud several times – love your writing style! Maps are for noobs! Glad you made it to the top to tell the tale – what a beautiful hike to be sure! I will admit that I wouldn’t have immediately thought waterfalls when someone said Georgia, so thank you for sharing!

    • Sami Mastrario
      February 22, 2018 / 8:29 am

      Ah thanks so much! Writing is hard and I promise you I have to reread everything I write because I don’t want to sound like a country bumpkin! ?

  11. February 23, 2018 / 10:03 pm

    Gorgeous waterfall, but damn those stairs! I would have been dying! Stairs are the worst 😛

    • Sami Mastrario
      February 23, 2018 / 10:25 pm

      YES they are. I almost wish it was more like a hike instead of stairs but I would have been out there a lot longer due to the steepness. ?

  12. February 24, 2018 / 2:38 pm

    Looks like it was worth it in the end. Those falls are very calming and beautiful. I’m glad you stuck with it! I agree that sometimes it’s nice to “travel” where you are. If travel is just going somewhere far away, then we’d all be left with very shallow experiences.

    • Sami Mastrario
      February 24, 2018 / 5:05 pm

      It was nice to be in a familiar area, that’s for sure! <3

      • February 25, 2018 / 1:10 pm

        I lived in South Korea for several years, and when I went home, I was like a tourist in my own hometown.

        • Sami Mastrario
          February 25, 2018 / 4:20 pm

          Isn’t exploring your area sometimes extra special?

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