"You shall walk where only the wind has walked before, and when all the music is stilled, you shall hear the singing of the stream, and enter the living shelter of the forest" - John Baldwin.
hen we're children we seek wonderful, out of the way, secret and mysterious places to play. We traverse paths and follow creeks hoping to come upon a place that roars with the sound of cascading water, where maybe a fairy will come from behind a wildflower petal and ask us if there is a wish that we have that maybe she can grant.
It is never to late to delight in such fancy and it is one of the reasons that the waterfalls of this region are one of our most desirable attractions. Only a few of our waterfalls are visible from the road or parking lots. Most waterfalls are easily reached, requiring varying lengths of walks and hikes.
Anna Ruby Falls (Chattooga Ranger District)
Spectacular Anna Ruby Falls lies in the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest. The quiet coolness of the area is broken only by the thundering rush of water flowing over the rugged cliff face.
Anna Ruby Falls marks the junction of Curtis and York Creeks. Both Creeks begin on Tray Mountain and are fed by underground springs, rain and snow. Curtis creek drops 153 feet and York Creek 50 feet to form the twin falls known as Anna Ruby Falls. From the falls, Smith Creek tumbles downhill to Unicoi Lake and then to the Chattahoochee River. Its journey continues south, eventually joining the Appalachicola River in Florida and ending its 550-mile journey in the Gulf of Mexico.
A paved 0.4 mile footpath leads from the parking lot to the base of the falls. Walking is easy to moderate and will take approximately 30 minutes to complete. Benches are provided along the way. Walking shoes are recommended since the trail can be wet and slippery. The Lion's Eye Trail gives people who are blind or have visual impairments the opportunity to experience the environment along Smith Creek. Braille signs interpret various features of the area. Ambitious hikers will find the 4.6 mile Smith Creek Trail a challenge. This longer trail leads from the base of Anna Ruby Falls to Unicoi State Park.
Dukes Creek Falls (Chattooga Ranger District)
A well designed trail lashes its way into the Dukes Creek Gorge, ending at the very base of the falls. This falls has several features that separate it from others, there is a slippery-rock slide, a newly built observation deck that allows for an excellent view of the falls from the parking area, and it is also Handicapped Accessible to first overlook. The area offers scenic beauty and possible gold panning opportunities. These falls drop about 150 feet down a sheer granite canyon and into Dukes Creek.
Directions: From Hiawassee take GA 75 south towards Helen. Turn right at the junction GA 356 West and Alternate 75. At the bridge, cross the Chattahoochee River and continue for approximately 2.2 miles to the Richard Russell Scenic Highway (Forest Service Road 348). Turn right for 2 miles to the Dukes Creek Falls Recreation Area sign.
High Shoals Falls (Brasstown Ranger District):
A succession of five waterfalls graces this 170-acre scenic area. These falls have an estimated total vertical drop of 300 feet. The High Shoals Trail (1.2 miles in length) follows along High Shoals Creek to observation decks beside two of the five streams cascading in the High Shoals Scenic Area. Please stay on the trails and observation deck.
Directions: From Hiawassee take GA 75 south towards Helen. Turn left on FS Road 283 at the High Shoals sign. Go 1.5 mile on this road to the High Shoals Scenic Area.
Horse Trough Falls (Chattooga Ranger District):
The Horse Trough Falls Trail (4 mile in length), which leads to the beautiful Horse Trough Falls, is an excellent trail for novice hikers.
Directions: From Hiawassee, take GA 75 south towards Helen to Unicoi Gap. Turn right onto FS Road 44 (Wilkes Creek Roads). Go 5.4 miles to a sharp curve and take the right fork. Go 0.2 mile, ford the stream and follow colored blazes on trees.
Mill Creek Falls:
The waterfall on Ground Hog Brand drops about 150 feet where it combines with Mill Creek. The combined streams plunge another estimated 150 feet, ending in a series of rapids, which cascade down the Mill Creek Gorge.
Directions: From Hiawassee, take US 76 east. Turn right on GA Hwy 75 and travel 3.5 miles. Turn left on Mill Creek Road (FS Road 26) for 2.5 miles. The road crosses Mill Creek 1.5 miles from the pavement. Park at the camping area on the right and the pullouts on the left and right side of the road. Hike through the primitive camping area and follow the east side of Mill Creek downstream.
Raven Cliff Falls (Chattooga Ranger District):
This waterfall if perhaps one of the most unusual in the north Georgia area because water flows through a split on the face of a solid rock outcropping to the ground 100 feet below. Behind the split, the water drops approximately 60 feet and then rushes through the rock face and drops 20 feet into a deep pool. The water then cascades 20 more feet to Dodd Creek. Three other waterfalls may be found on Dodd Creek. The largest is located downstream from Raven Cliff Falls and measures 70 feet.
The area offers excellent opportunities for day hiking. However, there are no facilities of any type provided and visitors are encouraged to exercise extreme caution in this undeveloped area.
Directions: From Hiawassee, take GA 75 south towards Helen. Turn right on GA 356 (75 alternate) for 2.3 miles to the Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway. Turn right and go 2/8 miles to the trailhead and parking area.