It shouldn’t matter that Toccoa Falls doesn’t require a hike, this is a must-see. It is a perfect example of what a waterfall should be. Good flow over the edge; colorful rock face; pure plunge; broad, deep base pool; good viewing positions; and, when the sun is right, rainbows in the spray.
Plus it is only a 100-yard walk down a wide path from the Gate Cottage on the campus of Toccoa Falls College. From Greenville, drive about 56 miles down I-85 to exit 173 on the Georgia side. Follow GA Hwy 17 north for about 12 miles until you see Hwy 17 bypass turning off to the left. Continue straight on Hwy 17A (S. Big A Road). Follow Hwy 17A for about 4 miles to Broad Street and turn right. In about a quarter mile, Hwy 17A turns left onto Toccoa Falls Road. A mile later, you’ll be at the entrance to the college. Turn left and follow the signs to the Gate Cottage.
You access the falls through the Gate Cottage where there is a book shop and restaurant. Entry fee to see the falls is $2 per person, $1 for those over 60, and free for military active duty and veterans. Walk down the path alongside Toccoa Creek and it won’t be long before you’ll see the full majesty of this cascade as it leaps off the lip and down 186 feet to the base pool. Plenty of good angles for photos.
There is also a memorial to the 39 people lost during the tragedy that hit the college in 1977, when the Kelly Barnes Dam, about a half mile above the falls, failed and sent more than 27 million cubic feet of lake water roaring over the falls and smashing into the campus.
So, go see Toccoa Falls, spend some time in the book shop, it is well-stocked with good hiking and Georgia waterfall references along with a narrative of the flood. And save some time to enjoy the campus, it is a lovely place.