Georgia Trails: Hike the 2.5-Mile Amicalola Wildlife Interpretive Loop Trail in Dawson County

Hike a 2.5-mile loop on the easy-to-moderate Amicacola Wildlife Interpretive Trail in Dawson County, Georgia, to see interpretive signs, Amicalola Creek, and good views.

By Tim Homan

Because three of the facts stated in this description differ from what you will see at the trailhead, an explanation is necessary. The trail distance (2.5 miles) given here was wheel measured. The stream is signed Amicalola River at the bridge, but named Amicalola Creek on the topo sheet, in the DNR fishing regulations pamphlet, and in a prominent canoeing guide. And finally, the name for this trail comes from its interpretive pamphlet rather than the longer name on the trailhead sign.

The construction of the Amicalola Wildlife Interpretive Trail was a cooperative effort between DNR and the Boy Scouts. Located in the hilly Dahlonega Upland District of the uppermost Piedmont, this trail has thirty-five interpretive signs. The signs and trailhead pamphlet describe a wide range of human and natural history subjects. These interpretive stations identify trees and wildlife foods, point out some of the many wildlife boxes (including a box for overwintering butterflies), demonstrate wildlife management practices, and much more. DNR makes an effort to keep the pamphlets available at the trailhead.

The beginning 35 yards of the trail descend sharply on rocks to the canoe launch site on Amicalola Creek. Here, not far from its end at the Etowah River, mountain-born Amicalola Creek is river width and perhaps the most scenic stream in the Piedmont. The creek is scenic because it looks just like a mountain stream: green where it is deep and slow, clear where it is shallow and gliding, white and gray where it is fast through rock.

The first segment of the trail closely parallels the wide creek through a forest and understory resembling low-elevation stream-corridor forests further north. The footpath passes beside Edge of the World rapid at 0.3 mile. This Class IV rapid has a horizon line from bank to bank: to the approaching canoeist, the creek drops from sight, creating a strong urge to stop and scout. During high water, this rapid is impressively powerful.

One-tenth mile beyond Edge of the World, the treadway turns uphill and away from the creek at the arrow and double blaze. Here it enters an oak-pine forest which closely resembles typical upland Piedmont stands to the south. Eastern white pine and chestnut oak are evidence of the transitional nature of the forest.

Seldom level for long, this well-blazed, easily followed loop winds in and out of small rivulet hollows divided by low ridges. Most of the grades are easy or easy to moderate.

The footpath comes to the first of its three surprises at mile 1.4. To the right, there is a man-made view of a straight stretch of the shoaling creek, sparkling silver on sunny days. A short distance beyond the view, the treadway reaches a small opening with a concrete picnic table and a monument for a young Boy Scout who died in 1991. At mile 2.2, as the trail starts to descend from the highest ridge along the loop, an interpretive sign informs you that the view to the north is of Springer Mountain (3,782 feet).

Highlights

  • Mile 0.3: Class IV Edge of the World rapids.
  • Mile 1.4: Long-distance view of a straight run of Amicalola Creek.
  • Mile 2.2: View of Springer Mountain to the north.

Directions

The trailhead sign and pull-off parking area are located on the southeastern side of the GA 53 bridge over Amicalola Creek. This bridge spans the wide creek on the segment of GA 53 between Dawsonville and Tate.

  • From the GA 53-GA 108 junction in Tate, travel GA 53 East for 13.0 miles to the bridge.
  • From the Dawsonville square continue 6.5 miles on GA 53 West to the bridge.
Tim Homan

This hiking guide to the Amicalola Wildlife Interpretive Trail is adapted from The Hiking Trails of North Georgia by Tim Homan and is published in cooperation with the publisher, Peachtree Publishers. With his meticulous attention to detail and accuracy, Homan has long been recognized as the authority on North Georgia hiking trail by serious hikers. His other books include Hiking Trails of Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock and Citico Creek Wilderness, Hiking the Shining Rock and Middle Prong Wilderness and others. For a complete inventory of his books see his Amazon Author Page. For an inventory of Peachtree Publishers books including its Nature books for children, go to the Peachtree Publishers website.

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