Amicalola Visitor Center Rocks Out

The new Amicalola Falls State Park Visitor Center offers Southern hospitality and a whole lot more for the 350,000 annual visitors to the park.

A more than 50-year-old visitor center at Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge has been replaced. The new Center, which opened in late 2023, is a must-see for everyone who visits the park. It is refreshing to see how modern it is in its approach to ecology and natural history.

Did you know? Amicalola Falls State Park is one of the Top 3 Most Visited Parks in Georgia because of its central feature: the highest cascading waterfall in the Southeast.

I came to the park with friends the first weekend in March to experience the A.T. Gateways event, which is an annual celebration of the Appalachian Trail (completed in 1921) and all the ways it touches people via the gateways of inspiration, health, knowledge, and stewardship.

Hikers of all backgrounds and from across the globe were there. It’s a kick-off weekend for many of the A.T. thru-hikers and is attended by past and future hikers and anyone who loves nature and wants to experience the weekend’s hike-themed demonstrations and activities.

Behind the Visitor Center hikers can see the stone arch marking the beginning of the approach trail to Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the 2,190+ long Appalachian Trail which is a continuous footpath that leads to Mt. Katahdin, Maine.

Did you know? Of the thousands of thru-hikers who intend to reach Mt. Katahdin, Maine from Amicalola Falls State Park, only 1 in 4 complete the hike. – Appalachian Trail Conservancy 

For some visitors, this center is perfect for buying walking sticks and T-shirts, and learning more about the park’s history and wildlife. For others, it may be their last immersion in a civilized place for days or weeks as they walk on from here and out into the open wilderness.

Back at the lodge, we watched backpackers dine with families and friends who were seeing them off for the hike. They gathered at the Cascades Restaurant inside the lodge for a buffet breakfast. As I enjoyed mine, I wondered when some of these hikers would eat so well again. I am inspired to think about when I might want to train for and hike the A.T. Isn’t age 50 the new 40?

A few highlights at the Visitor Center:

  • It’s new! You are a first explorer this opening year.
  • Get a latte at The Falls Café and enjoy morning coffee with friends on the back patio.
  • There is a room dedicated to the Appalachian Trail’s history and experiences. An interactive exhibit lights up the AT shelters along Georgia’s part of the trail which extends nearly 80 miles.


Have you seen the old pickup truck near the waterfall, lodged into trees that are growing around it? It’s a relic of the moonshine era around these hills and hollers. Exhibits inside the Visitor Center detail North Georgia’s 150-ish year history of moonshine making – through Prohibition – and how we savor it legally now.

Push buttons to hear wildlife sounds and bird songs and calls to familiarize yourself with local animals you may see on the trails.

Being at this state-of-the-art Visitor Center is impressive and educational. I recommend starting your visit here so that you can ask park staff questions about hike options, things to do in the park, and the kinds of experiences you can have every season of the year.

Come anytime to Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge. Stay a while.

– Martin L.

The Adventure Begins Today! 706-344-1500

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