One of the prettiest and most surprising waterfalls we got to see in the North Georgia mountains was Toccoa Falls. Tucked away behind a college bookstore – there is nothing more stunning in the little town of Toccoa, Georgia than this tumbling 186-foot falls.
Designated as one of the tallest ‘free-falling’ waterfalls east of the Mississippi River, seeing pictures online really doesn’t do this spectacular site justice. What’s even more impressive than how pretty it is? How clean it was and free of big crowds – especially considering how easy it was to get to!
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Cost: $2 Adults, $1 Seniors and children 6 and under are free.
Hours: 10am – 4pm Monday through Friday, and from 12pm – 4pm on Saturday and Sunday ** call in advance to make sure there isn’t a wedding going on!
Phone # to Campus Bookstore Office: 706-886-7299, x5219
Trail Length: 100 yards
Are Dogs Allowed: yes
Hotels Close By: The Simmons-Bond Inn Bed and Breakfast, The Historic Lake Rabun Hotel & Restaurant, Quality Inn & Suites Mt. Clayton (Budget-Friendly)
How To Get To Toccoa Falls
Getting to Toccoa Falls is a relatively easy drive. Whether you’re coming from Atlanta, Knoxville or Asheville – it’s a great road trip stop!
- From Atlanta, Georgia to Toccoa Falls (1.5 hrs): Leave Atlanta on I-75 going North and get off on I-85 N until it changes into I-985N. Follow I-85N/I-985 N for 50 minutes and then take the exit for US-23N, then GA 17Alt S to kincaid Drive for the last 38 minutes of your drive.
- From Knoxville, Tennessee to Toccoa Falls, Georgia (3 hrs): Leave Knoxville on I-40E and stay on the insterstate for 1 hour and 20 minutes to Exit 24. Follow US-23 S/US-74 W/Great Smoky Mountains Expy, US-441 S and GA 17Alt S to Kincaid Dr in Toccoa. There are sigs everywhere in Toccoa for the falls!!
- Asheville, North Carolina to Toccoa Falls, Georgia (2 hrs): From Asheville, take I-40W for 18 miles to Exit 27 to US-74W towards Atlanta. Then after about 26 miles you’ll take Exit 81 for US-23 and then another 60 miles. Take the exit for GA 17Alt to Kincaid Drive in Toccoa.
Toccoa Falls College Address: 107 Kincaid Dr, Toccoa Falls, GA 30598
Planning a road trip around Southern USA? Don’t forget to check out our guide for the Best Road Trips Stops along I-65! This interstate takes you from the Northernmost part of the South to the Southern tip down in Mobile near Alabama’s best beaches!
The Best Hotels Near Toccoa Falls
Because Toccoa itself isn’t a big town – there aren’t many places to stay! What we always try to look for in little towns like this is quality local bed & breakfasts.
- The Simmons-Bond Inn Bed and Breakfast: 4 minutes from the falls in downtown Toccoa.
- The Historic Lake Rabun Hotel & Restaurant : A little further away in Lakemont, Georgia – you’ll find a stunning property with lake access. This rustic property is home to cabins, single bedrooms at the inn as well as a bar and fine dining restaurant (perect for a wedding reception!) Not to mention the veiws of Lake Rabun would be so pretty!!
What To Expect at the toccoa Falls Campus
When you get to Toccoa Falls College, you’re going to want to go straight to the Toccoa Falls Campus Bookstore but you have to check in with the school first. The process is just an easy drive-through at the gate where you’ll have to stop to show your I.D.s to gate attendants.
**The gate attendants will write down your name and ask your purpose for being on campus. Simply tell the attendant ‘to see Toccoa Falls’. The reason for the aforementioned questions is security. By asking few simple questions – it protects their campus and the falls. If you’ve ever hiked anywhere – you know the amount of destruction you see on trails that aren’t monitored.
When you drive up to the bookstore, you can tell the property is well maintained and cared for. There are flowers planted along the drive.. and a pretty board-and-batten-stoned facade building stands sentinel before the trailhead. To the right, there are heavy iron gates keeping out the public. All signs usher visitors towards the Toccoa Falls College Library front doors.
- Parking for Toccoa Falls: In front of the library there is a large gravel parking lot with ample parking. (As we mention below – you’ll definitly be able to get a parking spot if you go when school isn’t in session!)
Admission to The Trailhead
Once you park – you’ll walk into the college’s library and pay your admission cost. The nominal $2 fee for adults makes this a super budget-friendly activity in Georgia!
After you’ve paid the fees, you’ll be guided towards a rear exit and walk out onto a pretty little patio behind the library. Lined with cedar paneled walls and flower boxes, you’ll already get the sense that you’re on your way to something spectacular. Not only for how well the falls are maintained – but because they’ve truly put so much energy into creating a lovely experience.
The ‘hiking’ trail to Toccoa Falls starts from the back of the cottage. It’s clearly marked and easily handicap accessible!
How Hard Is The Trail To Toccoa Falls?
Only 100 yards from the backside of Toccoa, the trail to Toccoa Falls is incredibly easy. The gravel path to Toccoa Falls is a gently sloping walk that anyone can do.
- Remember that Toccoa Falls is handicapp accessible! The trail is wide enough for wheelchairs to easily glide through while also allowing other visitors to pass by clearly.
You’ll, your furry friends, your kids, and/or your partner can walk back to the Falls past Toccoa Creek. If you go in the spring you’ll pass fragrant blooms of pink and white flowers that surround the mossy creek beds!
When visiting the Falls in autumn, you’ll be surrounded by the changing colors of hickory, oak, and walnut trees. No matter when you go – this easy hike is worth the stop!
Photography At the Falls
There are no photography permits required at Toccoa Falls– but if weddings are going on please try to be respectful! The last thing anyone wants is people in the background of their ceremony photos. (Most wedding ceremonies last less than an hour. You can always grab a bit to eat and come back!)
- When You Reserve A Wedding Date: Make sure you book a photographer who has worked in destination wedding type settings. The area around the falls was slightly misty which could impact your photo quality!
If you’re a photographer or travel enthusiast, here are a few general tips for getting good photos around the falls!
#1 Make Sure You’re Prepared With Grippy Shoes: The area around the falls in basically all seasons will be slippery. In the spring-summer and fall, there is a mossy layer covering the rocks all around the base of the falls. Even the parts that look more dry are deceiving. Thankfully we were wearing hiking boots and were able to scamper over the rocks pretty quickly. It’s most likely unsafe in sandals or even barefoot with the presence of fallen limbs and jagged rocks.
#2 Being A Wide-Angle Lens: With the falls being over 186-feet high and the viewing area not very far back – anything less than a 15-20mm lens won’t give you a great photo of the falls! (Scroll to the bottom of this post for recommendations on our favorite camera and lens!)
When’s The Best Time To Visit Toccoa Falls?
The best time to visit Toccoa Falls is when school isn’t in session. We went when school wasn’t in session due to the Covid-19 pandemic and it wasn’t busy.
To have the same crowd-free experience – we highly recommend going during Toccoa Falls College summer break. The campus is likely normally crawling with students and visitors – but to be able to have the falls almost to yourself is a can’t miss experience!
History of Tocca Falls
Toccoa Falls College is a Christian liberal arts college with a colorful and somewhat sad history.
As with many places in the United States – Toccoa is derived from a Cherokee word pronounced Tock-oh-aye. Cherokee tribes were present throughout much of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Georgia. As with all previous Native American land we pay tribute to those who lost their land and were forcibly relocated to other parts of what is now the United States.
In the 1750s after the Great Awakening, ( a major Protestant Evangelical revolution that swept through Great Britain), two Scottish missionaries came to America from England. After finding a Native American settlement open to Christianity, the entire town was converted. Schools and churches soon followed before the entire town was wiped out by a neighboring rival Chickasaw tribe.
After the American Revolution, new lines were drawn around Georgia borders and retired soldiers began to settle in the region. Along with the Unicoi Turnpike, the first highway through Georgia, a railroad was built bringing visitors from all over southern Georgia to see Toccoa Falls.
In 1898, the Haddock Inn (no longer standing) was built and eventually sold to an evangelical couple. What’s amazing about this part of the story is that they settled on buying the property for only $10 because the missionaries believed that God called them to the property! (The rest of the $25,000 price tag would be paid in the years to come.)
The school today is an accredited liberal arts college that weaves the Christian values of their forefathers through the curriculum. The original Haddock Inn burned to the ground, but many of the other buildings around campus but in the early 20th century are still standing!
How To Plan Weddings at Toccoa Falls
If ever you were hoping to plan a small budget-friendly wedding (like we did!!)– Toccoa Falls would be an incredible wedding venue. Nothing screams romantic more than the fairy-tale scenery before you. We stumbled upon the falls while a group was preparing for the wedding and we didn’t even know they were allowed here! It transformed into one of the most fairy-tale-worthy wedding venues we’ve ever seen.
The warm-toned wooden pews in a light manicured gravel stretch were in perfect contrast to the beauty of the falls. Towering oaks and pines surrounded the clearing. The breeze rippled through the trees creating a serene space with ample shady spots for guests. Boulders in the background surrounding the base of the falls only added to the earthy vibes and would make for great photos with the bride and groom later!
We also noticed that there were arrays of flowers pinned up at different locations around the venue. What we loved about the flowers they chose is that very little was required to make this space come alive – and the bride and groom clearly understood the art of understatement.
FAQ’s for Toccoa Falls Weddings
- Number of Guests Allowed for Ceremonies: Toccoa Falls College says that they can reasonably acomodate up to 200 people in the space – however after seeing the venue ourselves – we think no more than 100 would truly fit, and leave enough space for photographers and decor.
For questions on pricing and date availability for planning weddings at Toccoa Falls, click here. You’ll need to fill out a short survey with your information.
- The Best Time For A Wedding at Toccoa Falls: Spring, fall and winter would be the best times to plan a wedding at Toccoa Falls. In the spring or fall – you can rely on good weather and escaping that heavy Georgia himidity. We were also thinking the winter could be strikingly beautiful if you’re determined to have an outdoor winter wedding? The frozen sections of the waterfall in the background would make for epic photos!!
- Will Your Event Be Private? Toccoa Falls doesn’t guantee a private event venue (again – allowing for budget friendly venue prices!) but you can expect that more guests will be respectful of your event. It’s highly unlikely you’ll have any issues with people crashing your wedding!!
- Reception Venue: Notes from Toccoa Falls College ‘….historical Gate Cottage offers the perfect venue for your wedding reception and can accommodate groups of 50 – 165 people. We have two approved caterers for our venue – Cabe Crest Catering and Toccoa Falls Culinary. Remember, our site does not permit alcohol or tobacco.’
Attractions Around Toccoa Falls
Because the trip to Toccoa Falls is incredibly short – you can make this a short weekend getaway or make it a stop on a long road trip! When we did our North Georgia road trip -we got to see some incredible sites.
- Talullah Gorge – Get on our mailing list for our full guide to Tallulah Gorge comes out!
- Bell Mountain, Georgia – One of the most spectacular lookout points in all of Georgia is only a short drive away from Toccoa Falls!
- Moonrise Distillery – 30 minuites from Toccoa Falls lays this rustic distillery in the countryside of Clayton Georgia. Tastings tours and craft cocktails are offered daily!
Address: 31 Webb Rd, Clayton, GA 30525
- Helen, Georgia – Helen is a great addition to a North Georiga roadtrip. This adorable mountain town has everything you need in a central location while you explore Georgia’s wine region!
For more Southern USA travel inspiration, see our guide to The Top 14 Southern Resorts! When you’re traveling inevitably brings you through the gorgeous state of Kentucky, stop at Fairmount Falls in Louisville. This hidden gem is just one more waterfall that makes the South our favorite part of the US!
The Best Restaurants Near Toccoa Falls
Being such a small town – expect a few home-cooked Southern-style restaurants and a few chains in the immediate vicinity of Toccoa Falls. To get much more, you’ll have to take a few short drives to the neighboring towns.
- Shirley’s Soul Food Cafe – (4.5/5 stars) The exactly what you think you’ll be getting kind of down home deliciousness that Southern small towns pride themselves on! Get fried catfish, baked mac n cheese and so much more!
Address: 124 W Currahee St Toccoa, GA 30577
- The Rusty Bike Cafe (4.5/5 stars) – Lauded as the best breakfast in Georgia, this home cooked brunhc is just 30 minutes away in Clayton!
Address: 677 Hwy 441 S Clayton, GA 30525
- Big Daddy’s Restaurant & Tavern (4/5 stars) – Perfect for families and large groups, this enormous family owned restaurant is home to plenty of your classic American dishes and live music Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Plan a date to see Toccoa Falls and then take a short scenic drive through the North Georgia Mountains to the Bavarian town of Helen for a night of music and good food!
Address: 807 Edelweiss Strasse Helen, GA 30545
What To Bring With You
As we’ve mentioned before in this article, Toccoa Falls is incredibly easy to hike. So while hiking gear may not be required – it’s always a good idea to have it on hand for longer hikes around Toccoa!! We ended up using the falls as our mid-day rest stop and it was a great way to map out our adventures!
Here are a few helpful guides to pack for your Georgia road trip:
- The Complete Guide for What To Pack in Your Hiking Daypacks
- Your Essential Gear Guide to Waterfall Hiking
Drop us a comment if there is anything you want to know about what to bring for hiking in the region. Enjoy your hiking!
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Until next time friends,