Monday, September 24, 2012

Gorge Floor Trail at Tallulah Gorge State Park

Though I've done dozens of trips to Tallulah Gorge State Park in Georgia to hike some of the other trails, this was my first time on the Gorge Floor Trail.  Like its name implies, this challenging trail goes along the bottom of the gorge and requires rock scrambling.  I was delighted that my friends were game to do this trail with me on the crisp fall day we visited the park.
Crab-walking the Gorge Floor Trail.  Photo by G. C.
At the visitor's center, the Ranger checked our footwear before he issued us our free permits which are required for this trail (limited to 100 per day, weather permitting).  He even showed us pictures as he explained the route to convey the trail's difficulty.  I'd read in Tim Homan's The Hiking Trails of North Georgia that this as one of the toughest short hikes in Georgia, and I'd certainly agree with that assessment.  I'm no stranger to significant elevation change-- but that was the easy part.  I can climb stairs all day, and my long arms and legs make boulder scrambling easy, but the traverses across the inclined slabs of rock that angled down really scarred me.  At the sight of a few sheer inclines, I declared I was turning back, but after watching my friend go across, I slowly butt-scooted across after them.  Fortunately, I have good balance and good traction on my shoes.  I built up my confidence, until butt-scoots advanced into crab-walking, and finally, on the return trip, I tackled the traverses upright like a pro.  But it was definitely a challenge! 

Hanging onto the rocks and not looking down.  Photo by G. C.
The other unexpected delight was the wildflowers.  Tallulah Gorge is home to several rare and endangered species, including the persistant trillium which I'd seen this spring.  The Gorge Floor Trail accesses several plant communitie types with a high diversity of species.  Highlights for me included royal fern (Osmunda regalis), hazel alder (Alnus serrulata), paw paw (unfortunately no fruit though), turtlehead, and nodding ladies tresses orchid.  After doing the Gorge Floor Trail, we continued the hike around the North and South Rim Trails where we found delicious ripe persimmons.
Nodding ladies tresses orchid
Delicious persimmon
 If you aren't afraid of heights and like rock hopping, and if you are interested in seeing some great plants, check out this fun trail.  I know I'll be back!


  1. Sounds like a super fun trip. A challenge always makes you feel like you earned your stripes!

  2. So true about the really challenging trips that make you face your fears. They always leave you with such a good feeling.

  3. Nice ladies tresses!

    Oh mean, slab walking---scary! So many places in NH and Maine I wanted to yell at trail maintainers! It can be fun but definitely scary at the same time.