Looking for Adventure in North Georgia
The older my children get, the more adventurous they become (perhaps it’s in the genes?) And this summer, we once again headed up to the mountains of North Georgia. It is easy to understand the draw of North Georgia- mountains, streams, waterfalls and the cheapest tubing adventure I have ever encountered ( in Helen, Georgia), but as always, we needed to do something different. We needed: AN EPIC ADVENTURE.
Georgia Swimming Hole Reserch
Doing my pre-exploration online, I hunted swimming holes near where we would be staying in Dahlonega. Coming from Florida, we always assumed this equation to be true: summer + getaway=swimming. www.swimmingholes.org is an excellent place for information (though not always updated). During my search, I stumbled upon a swimming hole listed as The Edge of the World. A name such as that, begged for an adventure like a lighthouse beacon in a storm! How could we resist looking for The Edge of the World? And it happened to be near Dahlonega- what luck! (Please note my eschewed sense of distance- I went to Nepal because it was “near India,” even though it took 2 days on a train & 1 on a bus!)
Family Explorers in Search of the Edge of the World
So once in Georgia, feeling like Ponce de Leon or Lewis & Clark, we trekked out in search of The Edge of the World- located somewhere on the Amicalola River. Well, apparently there are no signposts for The Edge of the World- and very few locals we talked to even know of its existence- and believe me, we hit every gas station and convenience store in the area where it was supposed to be. A local swimming hole? Didn’t kids hang out there like at the K.P. Hole on the Rainbow River in Florida? (Guess not). On our quest, we did find another (local) swimming hole and utterly cool place for a water adventure- more on Devil’s Elbow here. Finally, a woman running the gas station at the crossroads near Dawson Forest WMA on GA 53, told us told us there was this place up the road….
The Challenges of an Epic Quest
After sliding down a gravel embankment we joined the path from Dawson Forest WMA (a fee recreation area that had absolutely no way for you to pay for the Georgia Recreational Use (GORP) fee (see author’s note below)! Do it online prior to your mountain adventure.
The well-maintained boardwalk path ran alongside the raging rapids of the Amicalola River, providing many stop off points, but came to an abrupt end above the falls at a scenic overlook. This is where the majority of sightseers take their photos and return from whence they came, but we were Epic Explorers. It was time to go off-track.
We followed a worn trail from the boardwalk, forged through the forest by the adventurous before us, and probably some teenagers sciving off school. We clambered over the trees and hugged the rock sides to ease ourselves by, finally, reaching the true Edge of the World.
The water, higher than usual due to the daily summer rains, was way too rough for tubing or swimming. It roared over the boulders (class IV rapids) spilling into the river further downstream. Beautiful- with not another soul in sight. Definitely NOT a place I would let my kids swim,( sorry, swimming holes website!) but we did get a good bit of scrambling over rocks and wading in the shallows.
As the sky darkened, heavens threatening to release a downpour, we headed back for a picnic at Amicalola Falls. We would be soaked on our next adventure before we even reached the waterfall. But for now we could place a check next to The Edge of the World on our adventurer’s list, and not many other people can say that!
Things to Know Before You Go:
The Edge of the World- on GA 53 near Dawsonville, GA (Signs for Dawson Forest WMA at the parking area.
Georgia State Park Permit required for parking there ($5) See GORP details in author note below.. Get one ahead of time- and you can stop at any of their areas.
***Author Update*** A Georgia Outdoor Recreational Pass (GORP) is now required to park at the Dawson Forest WMA and use the trail. Check out more informational on their website here