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High Falls State Park in Autumn – a Spectacular View

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I’ve visited High Falls State Park near Forsyth, GA several times in early June and late September, but yesterday I visited it for the first time in Autumn. My parents had never visited the falls before, so they joined me for this visit, a day trip up and back from Savannah. Especially for a coastal resident, with the scenery so different than what we’re around on a daily basis, the falls are always a beautiful place to visit. During Autumn, however, they’re simply spectacular.  The already amazing view becomes resplendent in the vibrant colors of the foliage. I can’t think of any other words for it. Autumn truly is the best time of the year to visit the falls.

Looking out at High Falls from the Towaliga River Bridge on High Falls Rd.

Looking out at High Falls from the Towaliga River Bridge on High Falls Rd.

Looking farther back down the Towaliga River and the falls from the Towaliga River Bridge on High Falls Rd.

Looking farther back down the Towaliga River and the falls from the Towaliga River Bridge on High Falls Rd.

Unlike previous visits, I had more time to walk and explore. I took the opportunity to walk the trails on both sides of the falls and found that the east trail is an easier walk than the west trail, but the view isn’t as good as the west trail. The east trail does end on Towaliga River Rd and you can then walk down the road a bit to the site of the Old Powerhouse on the Towaliga River and a view of the river in calmer state as it flows away from the falls. This is definitely worth the walk back and if you don’t want to make the walk back, there is also a way to drive back to it.

You certainly have to watch your step between and on roots and rocks on parts of the west trail along the falls and river, but it is well worth it. From several viewing platforms/decks and from right at the Towaliga River’s edge, you’ll have the best and closest views of the falls. If the water level is right, you can even step out onto some rocks and have almost a head on look at the falls and then down to where the river begins to calm. The views are truly extraordinary.

The beginning of the falls as seen from the west trail

The beginning of the falls as seen from the west trail

Looking down river from the west trail

Looking down river from the west trail

Looking out at the Falls from the west trail

Looking out at the Falls from the west trail

Looking out at the Falls from the west trail

Looking out at the Falls from the west trail

Looking out at the Falls from the west trail

Looking out at the Falls from the west trail

Looking out at the Falls from the west trail

Looking out at the Falls from the west trail

Looking out at the Falls from the west trail

Looking out at the Falls from the west trail

Looking out at the Falls from the west trail

Looking out at the Falls from the west trail

Looking out at the Falls from the west trail

Looking out at the Falls from the west trail

Looking back at the Falls from the west trail

Looking back at the Falls from the west trail

Looking at a calmer section of the river from the west trail

Looking at a calmer section of the river from the west trail

Looking at a calmer section of the river from the west trail

Looking at a calmer section of the river from the west trail

Looking out at the Falls from the west trail

Looking out at the Falls from the west trail

Looking out at the Falls from the west trail

Looking out at the Falls from the west trail

Rocks and foliage along the west trail

Rocks and foliage along the west trail

Looking out at the Falls from the west trail

Looking out at the Falls from the west trail

Looking out at the Falls from the west trail

Looking out at the Falls from the west trail

Looking at a calmer section of the river from the west trail, you can see a wall of the Old Powerhouse on the other side of the  river.

Looking at a calmer section of the river from the west trail, you can see a wall of the Old Powerhouse on the other side of the river.

The easier walk along the east trail provides a beautiful look down at the falls from a viewing platform/deck. The view from it really gives you the best look at the scope of the falls because you’re able to take almost all of it from overhead (although I think during the spring and summer, the view would be more obscured by trees in full foliage). In the photos below, you can see the platforms and railings of some of the viewing areas on the west trail, as well as the river banks you can walk down to.

Looking down at the Falls from the viewing platform/deck on the east trail

Looking down at the Falls from the viewing platform/deck on the east trail

Looking down at the Falls from the viewing platform/deck on the east trail

Looking down at the Falls from the viewing platform/deck on the east trail

The east trail comes to an end at Towaliga River Rd and a short walk down the road (be careful, it’s a bit steep – which means a bit of a climb on the way back up) brings you to the site of the Old Powerhouse and a view of a calmer flowing section of the Towaliga River. The park information describes the Old Powerhouse as “remains of a hydroelectric power plant foundation.” From my walk along the trail, it looks like water was diverted along the higher east side of the river to a structure at the end of the east trail (see the middle photo below) then down to the Powerhouse where it was converted into hydroelectric power. In the bottom photo, you can see some supports with curved tops along the side of the Powerhouse; I’m guessing they supported an aqueduct of sorts that brought the water down to the Powerhouse (I’m probably using the wrong terminology, I really don’t know much about hydroelectric plants – I’m just offering my observations).

Looking down the Towaliga River in a calm section down from the Falls

Looking down the Towaliga River in a calm section down from the Falls

Looking down the Towaliga River in a calm section down from the Falls (photos of that tree in the foreground do the brilliant gold of its foliage no justice)

Looking down the Towaliga River in a calm section down from the Falls (photos of that tree in the foreground do the brilliant gold of its foliage no justice)

It appears that water from the river was diverted to this structure at the end of the east trail down to the Old Powerhouse

It appears that water from the river was diverted to this structure at the end of the east trail down to the Old Powerhouse

The Old Powerhouse on at High Falls

The Old Powerhouse on at High Falls

The Old Powerhouse at High Falls

The Old Powerhouse at High Falls

High Falls is gorgeous at any time of the year, but I believe that it is Autumn when the Falls is at its most beautiful. Not only are the colors spectacular but the reduced foliage gives you a better of view of the river and the falls. On each visit I’ve made, I’ve found myself just standing and looking out at the Falls with wonder. If you’ve never been to High Falls State Park, put it on your short list; it isn’t very far off of I-75 at Exit 198 and you won’t regret making the trip or just stopping by on your way through the area.

If you’re interested in what can be heard on a scanner while traveling through the area, take a look at yesterday’s Road Trip Report.


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