After a productive week of hard work in Atlanta on a business trip, I began my return trip to Raleigh. Usually I go I-85 to I-40 but given some traffic near Charlotte on the way, I decided to detour back through the Georgia Mountains to take in a few more waterfall views and mountain vistas.
The interstate is wonderful, but sometimes you need to take a backroad, especially after a hectic week. Taking time to explore nature and see some different scenery definitely clears your mind and helps set the stage for a more productive week (in my humble opinion).
In today’s journey we are going to head north from Atlanta to the charming, and often overlooked town of Toccoa
Located 92 miles northwest of Atlanta, Toccoa Falls is located on the campus of Toccoa Falls College – a four year Christian liberal arts college with strong academics and a community culture.
The college was built around the gorgeous Toccoa Falls, which as a person of faith and academics that would definitely inspire me to learn and grow in character.
As you enter the campus, well-marked signs will guide you to Toccoa Falls entrance, located at the Gate Cottage Gift Shop and Visitor Center. Upon arrival you will be asked to make a small donation ($2 per person as of 2022) that goes to maintain the trail and visitor center.
The trail is only about 100 feet and is handicap accessible. The paved path meanders by Toccoa Creek before the majesty of the falls reveals itself. Toccoa is derived from a Cherokee word that means ‘Catawba’ – or beautiful.
I was instantly taken aback by the ‘grace’ of this waterfall, which sparkled like silver dust as it formed a rainbow. Several benches invite visitors to sit and stare into the heart of the falls.
I enjoyed seeing students walking to the falls on their study break – finding conversation and solitude sitting on the park benches.
And while Toccoa’s shined as the water hit the sunlight – unfortunately this also was the spot of a campus tragedy in the 1970s. The nearby dam broke – leading water to flood over the falls and thirty-nine souls were lost at the college. There is a heartfelt memorial inviting visitors to pause for a moment and reflect on how precious life truly is.
If you are hungry for a snack – Toccoa Falls College offers visitors good eats at the Gatehouse Cafe. Unfortunately it was closed when I arrived, but it is a good spot for creekside dining.
Speaking of Toccoa Falls – how awesome would it be to have waterfall in the middle of your campus. That would sell me on applying. The campus is beautiful and welcoming ‘family’ feel. It reminded a bit of my alma mater, Belmont University (Nashville) – another Christian school focused on strong academics.
After exploring Toccoa Falls and the college, make sure to drive into the neighboring town of Toccoa. This picturesque mountain village is lined with shops, delicious coffee cafes and restaurants. I only will I had more time in the area to try all the great eats. Click here for more info.
Fun Facts about Toccoa Falls and the town of Toccoa:
- Toccoa Falls drops 186 feet and is one of the tallest waterfalls east of the Mississippi…it is actually taller than Niagara Falls.
- Toccoa’s natural beauty and small town charm has attracted Hollywood – several movies have been filmed in the area. Did you know Georgia is one of the top movie producing states in the US? Click here to learn more.
- Toccoa Falls College was founded in 1907 and has 1600 students…popular Christian music artist, Aaron Shust is an alum
Coming blog adventures:
- Tallulah Gorge State Park, GA
- Highway 64 scenery from Highlands to Asheville
- Christmas fun at Grove Park Inn and Biltmore
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