Moonshine history and adventures await at Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge
North Georgia mountains are famous for good reason. Their beauty is unparalleled and the access they provide to incredible outdoor recreation opportunities is unmatched. I never get tired of visiting the mountains, especially Georgia’s state parks, which are so much more than a couple of trails through the woods.
The history of places like Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge is what truly sets North Georgia’s mountains apart. I am certainly not the first person to seek adventure or refuge there. The area has long been a retreat, a place where people seek escape either from the pressures of everyday life, or in many cases during a bygone era, from the law.
Evidence of the latter is easily visible when you take the short hike from the parking lot at the top of Amicalola Falls down to the West Ridge Staircase. I almost didn’t notice it at first, then out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of it. On the left, about halfway down the short, paved path, the shell of a 1950s pickup truck is crumpled between the rocks and trees of the mountainside, what many people believe is one of the last remaining vestiges of North Georgia’s illegal moonshine trade. Legend suggests the driver was carrying a truckload of shine, hoping to elude police, when it tumbled down the side of the mountain. I also believe the truck could have been pushed into the hollow so the owner could return later and retrieve the moonshine, only to find that the damage was so bad that both the truck and the moonshine were ruined.
I don’t know the true story. But one thing is clear, when you gaze through the hardwood forest at the gnarled, rusted relic, you’re looking at a slice of Appalachian history, a museum piece in its “natural” habitat in the North Georgia mountains.
Moonshining is a well-documented mountain tradition. When revenue agents and local law enforcement began shutting down their operations, the shiners got wise and began using their otherwise mundane vehicles, like the truck at Amicalola Falls State Park, to elude the law. To do so they removed seats, installed bigger engines and upgraded suspension to make them sleeper race cars for the streets. A big heavy police car couldn’t keep up with a good-old-boy in his souped-up sedan and an encyclopedic knowledge of every backroad in the county.
Who could have predicted that this unique culture would one day birth NASCAR – one of the most popular spectator sports in American history? Dawsonville, just a short drive from Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge, is home to the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame where you can learn even more there about the history of moonshining in North Georgia and the rise of professional automotive racing.
While hiking is one of my favorite activities at Amicalola Falls State Park, I decided to use my weekend stay to experience some of the other adventure activities they have available to guests and visitors. By far, my favorite activity was the ziplining. I was paired with a group of three other individuals and we headed out to experience one of the park’s newest attractions. Strangers strapping in, we soon became close friends as we catapulted from platform to platform, taking in the amazing views from the forest canopy. Exhilarated by our high-flying adventures, we all headed to the restaurant in the lodge for a deliciously satisfying late lunch before we went our separate ways.
I also tried the Tomahawk Throwing and 3-D Archery experiences before the weekend was up. Each activity was so unique and the staff was amazingly patient as I worked to hit my targets. With all the adventure activities available, the mystique of the moonshine truck at Amicalola Falls and my new found friends ziplining, this truly was a memorable stay. I wonder what memories you will make when you visit Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge. I recommend you go check it out.
Make plans to stay at the lodge or in one of our newly renovated cabins by visiting us online or calling 706-344-1500. Adventure Activities can be reserved ahead of your arrival by calling 706-265-1969 and zipline tours can be reserved online at https://go.theflybook.com/book/732/ListView/4101#/base/732/86ad4e85-a443-419c-9203-cbb07f4b985e/listview.