My favorite North Georgia waterfall hikes


It’s amazing that the simple fall of water from rock stirs up so much beauty and emotion. Georgia waterfalls are plentiful, spilling from the rolling North Georgia mountains on meandering streams, creeks and rivers. There are plenty of waterfall hike options in Georgia. Here are 3 of my favorites…

1) Amicalola Falls loop- 2.1 miles

Amicalola Falls is the highest waterfall (729 feet) in Georgia and is considered to be one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Georgia. The name “Amicalola” is derived from a Cherokee language word meaning “tumbling waters”. It is located within Amicalola Falls State Park which also contains a lodge, restaurant, and campground. To hike the 2.1 mile loop, start at the Visitor Center, then hike the Creek Trail, to the Base of Falls trail, up a staircase of 175 stairs to stand right in front of the falls.

amicalola base of falls

Amicalola Falls- most impressive after heavy rain

Continue up 375 more stairs to the top of the falls.

amicalola top of falls

View from top of the falls

Return down to the visitor center via the East Ridge trail. When you are almost at the end you will see this oddly shaped tree. It may have been bent by the Cherokee marking the route for the trail of tears.

trail of tears tree
Even though Springer Mountain is the true start of the Appalachian Trail’s southern end, most hikers start at Amicalola Falls State Park. There is an 8 mile approach trail to the southern terminus of the AT at Springer Mountain. Each spring in late March, the park hosts an Appalachian Trail Kickoff weekend with speakers and various events. Many aspiring thru hikers start their 2000 miles to Maine that weekend.

For an after hike lunch, visit the Park’s lodge restaurant for an all you can eat buffet, or visit the nearby town of Dahlonega that has many restaurant options- I recommend a burger at Shenanigan’s Irish Pub. Another fun after hike activity in this area is a visit to one of it’s 5 wineries for a tasting. Wolf Mountain Vineyards is the closest one to downtown Dahlonega, with beautiful mountain views and some really good red varietals!

2) Dukes Creek Falls- 2 miles

The Dukes Creek Trail hikes a moderate 2 miles out and back through a beautiful, mountain stream-filled forest in Georgia just north of Helen. The trail descends alongside a shallow, mossy stream, hiking to several large, cascading waterfalls that tumble at the convergence of Davis Creek and Dukes Creek. At the falls, several large wooden viewing platforms offer stunning views of the main attraction overhead: the exceptionally dramatic, multi-tiered, 150-foot-tall drop of Dukes Creek Falls.

And one of the best things about a day hike is the Apres hike meal right? The Bavarian village town of Helen has many casual and unique restaurants to choose from. My favorite is the Troll Tavern, where you can sit outside and eat right next to the river.

3) Raven Cliff Falls Hike- 5 miles

Hike through a beautiful, lush stream valley also just north of Helen GA, passing small, spilling cascades throughout the hike. The trail’s main attraction is at the end, where a cascading creek splits an enormous cliff in two. I love this hike because even in the summer, it stays pretty cool because you are right beside the stream the whole time and it is mostly in the shade. There are also plenty of campsites along the trail.

This heart shaped hole in a tree is near the beginning of the trail.

heart shaped hold
This mini waterfall is about halfway through and is a good spot to take a break.

pretty spot
End of the trail- Raven Cliff Falls. There are lots of places to sit and enjoy a picnic lunch.

raven cliff falls
Do keep in mind that slippery rocks and fast moving water can be extremely dangerous. Do not climb, stand above, swim near, or jump from any waterfall.

If you’re looking for more North Georgia waterfall hikes, check out this book by Jim Parham-

  • Andy
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