Located 12 miles south of Clayton in the north Georgia mountains, Tallulah Gorge is a delightful place to visit and enjoy. For two weekends in April and three weekends in November, water is released from Lake Rabun to recreate the water falls in the gorge that once were a natural beauty. The water cascades over five named waterfalls - LaDore (46'), Tempesta (76'), Hurricane (96'), Oceana (50'), and Bridal Veil (17') - in the space of about two miles. There are no falls with the name Tallulah. Tallulah Falls is the name of a nearby town.
The area was designated Tallulah Gorge State Park in 1992, and a state-of-the-art Interpretive Center was completed in 1996. The Interpretative Center is in a 16,000 square foot building filled with stuffed animals, birds and reptiles - all species native to the area. The building also houses a theater, classroom space, and exhibits that tell the story of the gorge from its discovery, through a period of intense popularity as a vacation spot, the coming of the railroad, the building of the dam by Georgia Power Company in 1912, and the creation of the park.
Trails, paved with reclaimed tire rubber, lead from the Interpretative Center to several overlooks. There are several miles of hiking trails, some of which are classed as very strenuous and require special permits. Others are easy and cross a bridge that overlooks the dam. Still others skirt Lake Rabun. Boardwalks and stairs descend to the floor of the gorge and a swinging bridge that crosses the river. The overlooks are lined with protective steel fencing at the edge of the natural rock.
On days when the water is released, kayakers can be seen running the rapids and tumbling through the falls. To kayak the gorge requires a special permit, 120 of which are issued each weekend the water is released. Oddly, about 40 percent more water is released on Sunday than on Saturday which changes the difficulty of the kayaking run. On those water-release days, the flood gates at the dam are opened at 8:00am and closed at 4:00pm.
The Lehotskys, the Bradleys, and the Bergs visited the gorge on Saturday, April 5, 2009 and hiked down to Overlook No. 1 to watch the kayakers. Then, some of us walked down the 300 step stairs to the swinging bridge that crosses the river. It was a beautiful day for the adventure.