Wonderful North Georgia Waterfalls

Written By: Judy Garrison

IT’S ALWAYS A GOOD DAY to head into the woods, with solitude as your only companion and the footpath, your navigator. Discarding routines and troubles at the outset, nature begins to soothe with her breezes and amaze with her backdrop. It is a freshness and freedom that has been missing, and for that reason alone, you seek nature and all her gifts.

And when, amidst the silence, you hear a rumbling of thunder, it’s clear you are close. You hear her majesty long before she comes into view. Your stride increases, for what you need, you have found. Through the trees, gushing water seizes the sunlight and showcases the way. You follow with excitement, and then, you stop. You exhale, as the weight of the world seems to drift away.

No one can deny the allure of water and its transformative affect. Perhaps this is the reason people converge at waterfalls; whether the path leads to its apex or below to its plunge pool, its influence is undeniable as you stand in the presence of one of nature’s most fascinating creations. Nature’s brute force is on display juxtaposed with the serenity that immediately replaces worry.

To this traveler, nowhere else in the world provides such rejuvenation than finding myself in the presence of rushing water. Now, more than ever, is the time to follow nature’s lead.

The North Georgia mountains are plentiful with waterfalls that are waiting to refresh your soul. No matter your hiking ability, there’s one that will allow you to experience Minnehaha Falls water in its most life-altering form.

Amicalola Falls
Amicalola Falls

AMICALOLA FALLS STATE PARK & LODGE

The highest waterfall in Georgia at 729 feet and the tallest cascading waterfall in the Southeastern United States, Amicalola is a favorite for most waterfall enthusiasts. Cherokee for “tumbling waters,” Amicalola is located 8 miles from Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. Not only is it a hiker’s paradise with

breathtaking views but also, it’s part of Georgia State Park system. Enjoy the lodge and organized adventure activities in close proximity to the waterfall.

CITY: Dawsonville

TRAIL LENGTH: 1 mile from the visitor’s center to the waterfall lookout, a total of 604 steps (one way) along bridges and stairs

TRAIL DIFFICULTY: Moderate to difficult with random benches provided

FAMILY-FRIENDLY: Yes. ADA access via West Ridge trail constructed from recycled rubber, only 0.3 miles to observation deck

DOG-FRIENDLY: Yes, on a leash not exceeding 6-feet

“There’s no better place to find yourself than sitting by a waterfall and listening to its music.” – Roland R Kemler

Anna Ruby Falls

ANNA RUBY FALLS

Dating back to the end of the Civil War, Captain J.H. Nichols began purchasing land throughout Nacoochee Valley, including the iconic gazebo-topped Indian mound and what is now known as the Hardman Farm Historic Site. Riding his horse through the forest, Captain, as he was called, discovered twin falls that he named for his daughter, Anna Ruby. With Helen and Unicoi State Park equal draws, the unique twin falls is one of the most popular in the state. A visit in the spring includes showcasing blooming rhododendron, an Appalachian treasure.

CITY: Helen

TRAIL LENGTH: .9 miles round trip on paved trail, with platforms for viewing

TRAIL DIFFICULTY: Easy

FAMILY-FRIENDLY: Kid- and stroller-friendly

DOG-FRIENDLY: Yes NOTE: Open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., Thursday through Sunday. 40 vehicles maximum.

Hemlock Falls
Hemlock Falls

HEMLOCK FALLS

Located off one of the most scenic drives in North Georgia, Highway 197 North, Hemlock Falls is accessed near the entrance of Moccasin Creek State Park, Georgia’s smallest park. Its location is a perfect home base, offering space for large RVs, and for discovering the trails, hikes and waterfalls throughout the region. The trail elevation rises and falls, crossing a wooden bridge and stone stairs as you reach the top of the falls.

CITY: North of Clarkesville (Habersham County) towards Rabun County

TRAIL LENGTH: 2 miles (round trip)

TRAIL DIFFICULTY: Moderate

FAMILY-FRIENDLY: Kid-friendly

DOG FRIENDLY: Yes

HURRICANE FALLS TRAIL

Nestled within Tallulah Gorge State Park, Hurricane Falls is the most dramatic of a series of six waterfalls (L’Eau d’Or, Tempesta, Hurricane, Oceana, Bridal Veil and Lovers Leap) visible during the hike. With more than 15 miles of hiking options, this one may be the most beautiful. Two things to keep in mind: check the dam release days prior to the visit and arrive early at the interpretive center to request a gorge floor permit (only 100 issued per day and none issued on release days). The trek takes you through twists and turns, down metal stairs, over a suspension bridge, and across platforms, and with each step, it offers incredible views of the gorge.

CITY: Tallulah Falls

TRAIL LENGTH: 2.25 miles (round trip)

TRAIL DIFFICULTY: Extremely difficult, steep with 1,099 stairs

FAMILY-FRIENDLY: Not advised for those with health conditions; do not leave children unattended

DOG FRIENDLY: No

MINNEHAHA FALLS

With Rabun County’s wealth of beauty, continue to the shores of Lake Rabun where this cascading waterfall is but a short walk into the forest. With few parking spaces along the road, climb the wooden stairs until it levels, signaling the falls nearby. This 100-foot rugged waterfall, in addition to the smaller ones during the ascent, is worth a visit.

CITY: Lakemont

TRAIL LENGTH: .4 miles (round trip)

TRAIL DIFFICULTY: Easy

FAMILY FRIENDLY: Kid-friendly

DOG FRIENDLY: Yes

PANTHER CREEK FALLS

One of the most beautiful stretches of the Chattahoochee National Forest in Rabun County, Panther Creek leads toward a sequence of falls surrounded by forest land leading to its majestic end (at 3.4 miles) with a deep pool and sandy beach. Backpackers flock to this experience due to the campsites scattered along the way. Enter from Old Historic US-441 at Panther Creek picnic area where elevation begins to climb. For the more experienced hikers, an alternate route provides a shorter yet more difficult trek from the eastern trailhead near Yonah Dam.

CITY: Turnerville

TRAIL LENGTH: 7 miles

TRAIL DIFFICULTY: Moderate to difficult, with flat sections, steep rocky elevations and narrow stretches

FAMILY-FRIENDLY: Yes, but challenging

DOG FRIENDLY: Yes, but also challenging for some dogs

Raven Cliff Falls
Raven Cliff Falls

RAVEN CLIFF FALLS

Once again in the Chattahoochee National Forest and along the snake-like turns of Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway, the Raven Cliff Trailhead sits between Helen and Blairsville. Following Dodd Creek, the trail passes several smaller falls along the way until you reach Raven Cliff Falls, water crashing through colossal granite rocks. There’s no better place to enjoy a picnic lunch than on the rocks that frame the falls. Upon return to the Raven Cliff Falls trailhead, stay at one of the free campsites as you explore more of the wilderness area.

CITY: Helen

TRAIL LENGTH: 4.9 miles (round trip)

TRAIL DIFFICULTY: Moderate

FAMILY-FRIENDLY: Yes

DOG-FRIENDLY: Yes

Toccoa Falls
Toccoa Falls

TOCCOA FALLS

Located on the campus of Toccoa Falls College, Toccoa Falls is one of the tallest free-falling waterfalls east of the Mississippi. Taller than Niagara Falls, it beckons photographers and visitors from around the South to experience one of nature’s most beautiful creations. Although there is no hiking experience involved, this masterpiece should not be missed.

CITY: Toccoa

TRAIL LENGTH: 100-yard path; handicap accessible

TRAIL DIFFICULTY: Easy

FAMILY-FRIENDLY: Yes

DOG-FRIENDLY: Yes, on leashes.

THIRSTY FOR MORE?

North Georgia offers a cornucopia of waterfalls to experience, so strap up your hiking boots, and set out on an adventure at any of these refreshing beauties:

Ammons Falls, Rabun County Angel Falls, Lake Rabun Becky Branch Falls, Clayton Blue Hole Falls, Helen DeSoto Falls, Dahlonega Dicks Creek Falls, Dahlonega Dukes Creek Falls, Helen Emery Creek Falls, Chatsworth Fall Branch Falls, Blue Ridge Helton Creek Falls, Helen Holcomb Creek Falls, Rabun County Horse Trough Falls, Helen Keown Falls, Resaca Long Creek Falls, Ellijay Lula Falls, Lookout Mountain Martin Creek Falls, Rabun County Trahlyta Falls, Blairsville, Vogel State Park

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