Sunday, October 31, 2010

Jack and Amy's Weekend Getaway to Georgia

Day 1 - Friday, October 29th, 2010

Photos are posted here:

Since my company's fiscal and vacation year end on October 31st, we planned a little trip to use up the last of my vacation days. Plus my Virginia Tech Hokies had a bye week making this last weekend of October the perfect opportunity to get away.

I have been wanting to visit Amicalola State Park for quite some time, but since this was a last minute trip, the accommodations there were all booked up. However, Amy was able to find a room fairly close to the park at the Lily Creek Lodge just outside Dahlonega, GA.

There are about 100 different routes that you can take from Spartanburg, SC to Dahlonega, GA. I chose one that would take us through Toccoa, GA so we could make a stop at Toccoa Falls.

Toccoa Falls is an almost 200-feet high waterfall located on the campus of Toccoa Falls College in Stephens County, GA. Of all the Georgia waterfalls that I have been to, this one is probably the most impressive! It is definitely a must see if you are in the area. Plus it is handicapped accessible, so anyone can make the few hundred yard stroll to this awesome sight.

The trailhead is located behind the college bookstore/gift shop. A nominal $1.00 fee per person allows access to the trail.

Even before we checked out the waterfall, we immediately spotted something that we had never seen before in the parking area. This one goes into the redneck files!

If you have too many kids to fit in your minivan and decide to create one of these:
You might be a Redneck!

Now on to the waterfall!

I was optimistic at first because the creek downstream from the falls was 100% shaded, but unfortunately we arrived at the waterfall under the worst possible photographic conditions. The top of the falls was in the bright sun, while the bottom was in the shade. This intense lighting contrast would make it impossible to get a good shot of the entire waterfall.

Toccoa Falls (see what I mean about the poor lighting!)
So I settled for trying to get shots isolating either the top half or the bottom half. The nice fall color and bright blue sky above at least made for some interesting shots! Plus, since I still don't have a good photo of the entire falls, it gives me an excuse to get back next time we are passing through the area!

Jack and Amy at Toccoa Falls

Nice Fall Color and a bright blue sky above Toccoa Falls

After Toccoa Falls, we continued on to Dahlonega and arrived downtown just in time for lunch and a stroll around downtown. This was my first visit to Dahlonega and I was very impressed with the downtown area. It is very touristy and has more than its share of unique little shops, but still a very neat place to visit.

Next we continued on to the Lily Creek Lodge. We were a bit early for the official 3:00pm check-in, but since our room was ready, we were allowed to check in early.

Since Amy accused me of getting her up too early, she decide that she was due for a nap. I decided to head on to a nearby waterfall.

Cane Creek Falls is located on the grounds of Camp Glisson just outside Dahlonega. When camp is not in session they allow public access to the waterfall between the hours of 9:00am and 5:00pm. You just have to check in at the visitors center and sign a liability waiver to get access.

Cane Creek Falls

This is another waterfall that is accessible to just about anyone and well worth a visit if you are in the Dahlonega area. Again, the bright sun made for less than desirable waterfall photography, but I still managed a couple of good shots.

Cane Creek Falls

I returned to the lodge and found Amy refreshed and ready to explore. I decided on the Falls on the West Fork of Montgomery Creek.

I got information on this waterfall from Jack Anthony's Georgia Waterfalls Website.  This is the best resource on Georgia Waterfalls that I could find!

One nice thing is he includes the GPS coordinates of the waterfalls and parking areas. However, it turned out to be a mistake plugging the coordinates in the GPS and trusting Tom Tom! We would have been much better following the directions on the website.

After travelling about an hour on a goat path like dirt road we finally reached the point we could have gotten to via paved roads in about 10 minutes. From here we were able to pick up the directions from Jack Anthony's site.

This is one of those spots that very few people end up getting to. Even with good directions, you still need a vehicle that you are not afraid to ford creeks in. The trailhead is not marked and not easy to spot without good directions.

The trail starts out heading steeply downhill through many areas of deadfall for about a half mile. It crosses a small tributary before gaining elevation and meeting up with the main creek. The last part requires a steep scramble down the bank to the base of this 20-foot waterfall.

Waterfall on the West Fork of Montgomery Creek

Amy elected to skip the descent to the base and waited for me while I went in search of photos. As usual, the best angle was on the other side of the creek, so I just had to trek across. Amy was looking down at me like I was crazy, but the lighting was perfect and I didn't want to miss the opportunity.

Waterfall on the West Fork of Montgomery Creek

Waterfall on the West Fork of Montgomery Creek

If you are the adventurous type waterfall seeker, this one is definitely worth a visit! Total hike is a little over a half mile one way, but it felt a lot longer!

After our hike, we enjoyed a nice dinner in Dahlonega before heading back to the Lodge. Once the stars came out, I decided to attempt some night time photography.

The Lily Creek Lodge at Night

Starry Sky

The full set of photos from Day 1 of our Georgia Weekend Getaway are located here:


Brenda W. said...

Sounds like a start of a GREAT weekend!!


HemlockMan said...

Lots of great waterfalls around my old stomping grounds.

Kim said...

these are all just beautiful..