In the mid 1990's, the Georgia Power Company Hydroelectric Projects along the Tallulah River came up for re-licensing from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Part of the re-licensing process required looking at alternate uses of the river besides strictly hydroelectric production. This gave whitewater groups, conservation groups, and local businesses an opportunity to lobby FERC to ask Georgia Power Co. to vary or change the amount of water released over Tallulah Dam. Tthere is now an increased daily flow of water over Tallulah Dam from 0-15 cubic feet per second to 35-50 cfs., whitewater releases which provides enough water for kayakers to paddle the Gorge, and aesthetic releases that create beautiful waterfalls comparable to what it was like before the River was dammed in 1912.
Seeing the Falls during the Releases Aesthetic Release Dates: Due to unsafe water levels, no permits are issued for Gorge floor access during the aesthetic releases. Hiking along the North and South Rim Trails and walking down the stairs on the Hurricane Falls Suspension Trail is allowed. You may also continue down the steps on the south side of the Gorge to the viewing platform at the base of Hurricane Falls. Call the State Park at 706-754-7970 for more information.
Whitewater Release Dates: The North and South Rim Trails are open for hiking during the Whitewater Release days as well as the steps off the North Rim Trail leading to the Suspension bridge above Hurricane Falls. Accessing the steps on the South side of the Gorge is not permited since that is the way the kayakers enter the Gorge. The steps to the viewing platform at the base of Hurricane Falls are also off limits to hikers. Like the aesthetic release dates, no gorge floor permits are given out.
The releases may also be seen from the overlook porch at Tallulah Point Overlook, which offers the only free roadside view of Tallulah Gorge. www.tallulahpoint.com