Tallulah Gorge: From Above

My first visit to Tallulah Gorge. The signage was a smidge confusing to access the park:

If you don’t have an annual park pass, are cheap/economical, and don’t mind a walk, park in the day-use area ($3 vs $5) on the “dam side” and walk to the Interpretative Center. Trails are well-marked. There is a lovely pavillion with tons of picnic tables and overhead fans. Shaded parking. Not a lot of spots. Seemed secure enough.

There are 2 ways to view Tallulah Gorge. From above & below. My pal D (a photog) drove up to join me for hiking the top of the gorge. It was a gorgeous day. The interpretative Center has a lot of friendly volunteers & Rangers but they only offer a pretty crappy photocopied map that does not include the Inspiration Loop, High Bluff Loop, or Stoneplace Loop trails. Do yourself a favor and print out maps from the website: http://goo.gl/JBFZX
If you can, blow up the inset map section “Town of Tallulah” in upper right corner. 

There is no official “loop” to hike all the overlooks.I would not consider any of the upper trails “hiking”. We did South Rim, Hurricane Falls Loop & North Rim. The trails aren’t blazed, but trail signage is more than adequate. The condition of the trails vary significantly from paved cement, to squishy rubber, to mulch, to rooty/rocky. Oh, and a few stairs.There are 10 overlooks, 5 on each side. We started on the South Rim. (Suggestion: take a picture of each overlook to keep them straight!)

In 1970, Karl Wallenda crossed Tallulah Gorge on a tightrope, without safety harnesses & did 2 headstands. The towers are still on both sides of the rim. (The Interpretative Center has momentos including tickets & one of his costumes… very bedazzled!) Overlook 1 has the tower on its side:*The South Wallenda Tower is only accessible on permit-trail to Sliding Rock Trail.

And the views of Oceana Falls. Beyond Overlook 1 is Inspiration Point (not an overlook):

Then you backtrack to Overlook 2 which offer views of Tempesta Falls & Hawthorne Cascade:

I mentioned the stairs, right? Well, then you head down the stairs to the suspension bridge over Hurricane Falls. (Don’t try to take pictures while others are walking across… too bouncy)

Then you head down more stairs. They have benches every 100ish stairs or so for you to “enjoy the view” (aka gasp for air) on the way up. I passed several people with trekking poles. Really, not necessary – they don’t work on stairs.

The stairs down to viewing platform at base of Hurricane Falls are worth it.

You can return via Hurricane Falls staircase to North trail or go back across the bridge. (The views up the Hurricane Falls staircase are uneventful. Go back over the bridge.)

Continuing on to Overlook 3 for views of L’or d’Eau Falls & Hawthorne Pool
And Overlook 4 gives a “good view of the dam” which was completed in 1913. If you look down from the overlook, there’s a lovely large rock to sit on & sun.

Overlook 5 has nice paved area and bench swing with views of upper gorge, Hawthorne pool & overlooks 2 & 3

We crossed under the bridge, through the Day-use area, over the bridge, to the North Rim trails.(Confession: I liked the North Rim trails more. Quieter. Different vibe) Lots of challenges with sunlight taking pics on this side. 

Overlook 6 has another view of L’or d’Eau Falls, a nice picnic area & views of Overlooks 2 & 3:

Overlook 7 gives a great glimpse of Tempesta Falls & the Suspension Bridge:

You’ll cross under a nice arbor with stone seating (but no view) 

and the trail signage for the Sliding Rock Trail (see next posting. Need a permit for that.)

Overlook 8 has views of Hurricane Falls & Pool and “Devils Pulpit” outcrop

Overlook 9 has views of Hurricane Falls, Oceana Falls & Caldona Cascade:

Overlook 10 (very shady) offers a nice view of Oceana Falls

Some interesting things I noticed along the way:Butterfly Photo Shoot…
People apparently think the Hurricane Falls is a fountain?

Tallulah Falls State Park is unusual. It was distracting to have busy road intersecting the park and power lines and cell towers everywhere. (Upside, you have cell coverage even in bottom of gorge) The Park Rangers I encountered were quite friendly & helpful. 


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