To start off this series on accessibility in the outdoors, I’ll be reviewing Tallulah Gorge State Park, GA! I’ve been on the search for accessible hiking spots and I was recently given a Georgia state parks booklet that shows what each park has to offer, it even shows if the park is accessible or has accessible trails! Well, what I’ve come to find in the past 2 days is that the “accessible” trails are really just 100 feet of paved path before the trail becomes completely inaccessible (pretty misleading). On top of that, the park websites and trail maps do not delineate accessibility of the parks and their trails.
Well, I love to hike and explore, and I want to be able to do that with my boyfriend, so my goal is to find accessible parks and hiking trails and review them. This was my first park to review and I already know I missed a lot of stuff (i.e. I didn’t check the handicap accessible stall in the bathroom) – but this series is a work in progress and it’ll only get better and more informative.
Tallulah Gorge State Park
Tallulah Gorge is a two mile long canyon at nearly 1,000 feet deep. Visitors can hike rim trails to several overlooks, or they can obtain a permit to hike to the gorge floor. A suspension bridge is located 80 feet above the rocky bottom, providing spectacular views of the river and waterfalls. A paved path follows an on old railroad bed, perfect for strollers and bicycles, while mountain bikers can test their skills on a challenging 10 mile trail.
Exhibits in the park’s Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center highlight the history of this Victorian resort town, as well as the rugged terrain and fragile ecosystem of the area. A gift shop offers snacks, jewelry, toys, books, walking sticks, clothing and more.
(Description from park website)
Park Hours: 8 a.m.–Dark
Office Hours: 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
The visitor center is a large, 2-story building with exhibits, a gift shop, multiple-stall bathrooms, an elevator, and ramps that lead you through the exhibits.
To access the accessible paths outside, there is a door on the bottom floor that opens to a large gathering area, then to a concrete ramp that takes you to the recycled rubber trail.
The restroom has 1 handicap stall with grab bars and adequate space inside. The door swings out, and the rest of the restroom is also spacious.
There are plenty of handicap accessible spots in the lot! The lot is sloped a little bit, but the asphalt is smooth and there are no steps to get to the visitor center.
When I asked the park ranger inside of the visitor center about accessible trails she told me about a paved trail (Shortline, highlighted at the top left of the map), I didn’t get a chance to go there but I’m hoping to take my boyfriend to check it out again! She then told me that just outside the visitor center there were recycled rubber paths (I’ve highlighted those paths). The paths felt great and were very smooth, although, the slope was a little steep at the beginning. Once the recycled rubber paths finished it was natural path that was still pretty smooth with occasional roots and rocks (see the pictures below for a better look).
EDIT: Shoreline trail is not the one highlighted on the top left of the map, it is past that trail, but I will say that it was a GREAT accessible trail! Paved all the way (over 2 miles), and mostly flat with very, very gentle inclines. It is located along a river as well with a suspension bridge you can go over.
The accessible trails had some amazing lookout spots and areas to sit and rest – outlooks 1A, 2 and 3 are accessible by the recycled rubber paths. If you park in the lot at Tallulah Falls Lake (on the bottom left side of the map) and cross the highway, there is an entrance to the South Rim Trail where there is a great little spot to picnic. There are steps leading up to it, but if you go around the right side, there is a ramp.
Overall this was a great park, you will definitely be able to admire the gorge and its amazing views!
Campground Office 706-754-7979
338 Jane Hurt Yarn Drive
Tallulah Falls, GA 30573
N 34.739750 | W -083.395233