High Falls State Park
By Bob Chaapel
High Falls State Park, situated on about 1,000 acres in the northwestern
corner of Monroe County, is located on a site that was once a bustling
industrial area. The community of High Falls contained several general
stores, a grist mill, cotton gin, blacksmith shop, shoe factory,
hotel, and several other industries. The town became a ghost town
in the 1880's when a major railroad bypassed it. During the Civil
War the original grist mill was burned down by Confederates of Wheelerís
Calvary to prevent the capture of stored supplies. The grist mill
was later rebuilt and operated until 1960. At the base of the falls
sits a power plant built by the Georgia Hydro Electric Company,
builder of the dam, and later sold to the Georgia Power Company.
The plant operated for over fifty years before closing in 1958.
High Falls State Park offers a rich historical background to the
area as well as extensive recreational facilities. The park offers
112 campsites with electrical and water hookups (five comfort stations
with hot showers are provided in the camping areas), individual
picnic sites and group shelters, fishing and boating in the 650-acre
High Falls Lake (private boats are permitted and fishing boats,
canoes and pedal boats can be rented at the park office), a swimming
pool that is open Memorial Day through Labor Day and about five
miles of hiking and running trails.
I like to park near camping area #1 (near the lake) and then run
across High Falls Road to the trails. There is a short nature trail
(maybe one mile) that runs along the east side Towaliga River and
provides a great view of the scenic waterfall; while this trail
is short, it is a great run along the river. There is a second short
trail that runs along the other side of the river from the old mill
site to the old powerhouse - this trail also offers a good view
of the falls. This trails connects with a longer 2.5 mile trail
that runs adjacent to camping area #2 on the west side of the river.
To get in a longer distance you can always run the roads that run
through the campgrounds and out Thornton Road to the Buck Creek
boat ramp and picnic area.
High Falls State Park is open daily 7:00 AM - 10:00 PM and the
park office hours are 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM. For additional information
on the park you can call 478-993-3053 or visit the Georgia State
Parks web site at www.gastateparks.org. A $2 daily or $25 annual
parking fee is required at all Georgia State Parks (Wednesdays are
free!). Maps of the park are available at either the park office
or the entrance gate to camping area #1.
Directions: From Atlanta take I-75 south to Exit # 198 (High Falls
Road/CR 277) and head east on High Falls Road about two miles.
Dining Recommendation: O. B.ís Real Pit Barbecue on Industrial Boulevard
in McDonough (itís located on the east side of I-75 next to Bellamy-Strickland
Chevrolet and can be accessed from either Exit # 216 or 218). As
I have said before the fried dill pickles are delicious! The lady
who is my frequent running partner pointed out that for desert you
can stop at the Brusterís Ice Cream Shop at the corner of Industrial
Boulevard and State Route 155 (Exit # 216 off I-75).
Remember to run safe & smart; take along a friend and get out
and see what Georgia has to offer - I guarantee you wonít be disappointed!