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Archive for April, 2011

Water Level Update: good spring levels in north Georgia (not extremely high, but good levels).
Spring Greenery Update: Greenery is good at least up to 2500 ft in Georgia (I didn’t go higher this weekend).

This past Saturday, I woke up to Atlanta being extremely foggy, and the forecast expected it to be cloudy in north Georgia through at least the first half of the morning, so I took off for north Georgia, deciding to visit the Tallulah Gorge.Tallulah Gorge Foggy The Tallulah Gorge was one of north Georgia’s first tourist attractions, one of many areas that over the years have been dubbed the “Niagara of the South.” It’s a gorge created by the Tallulah River, which is over 800 ft at its deepest. It first became popular in the late 1800s due to railway being built to it, and was extremely popular until dams were built upriver of it in the 1910s. The completion of the dam in 1913 dramatically cut the water flow, and the tourists disappeared–until it became a State Park in 1993 (though still not to the levels pre-damming). Now for 4 weekends a year (except when in a drought), the park does “aesthetic flow days” where they release much more water so it rages more like it did years ago. The photo above only shows part of the gorge, but somewhat shows its size.

As it is now, “Tallulah Falls” is a series of 5 falls. L'Eau d'Or Falls You can manage to see most of them from viewpoints around the gorge, but the best way to see them is to descend into the gorge. As you do so, the first you encounter is the first fall in the series, 46 ft tall L’Eau d’Or Falls. As you can see, this day it was wonderfully foggy, which I think was great for the waterfall shots. This view is from an easily accessed viewing platform, which you will likely not have to yourself (unless it’s early in the morning on a foggy day). 🙂 It also is a great place to see with autumn colors.

From there, to get to the bottom of the gorge, you have to descend 1062 steps (crossing the gorge midway on a suspension bridge) to the base of Hurricane Falls. Along the way, you pass by 76 ft Tempesta Falls, and you can see part of it, but there isn’t any great view of it from there–only from the top of the gorge, as I did later. 96 ft Hurricane Falls, with its pool after the water explodes around a bend in the gorge, is quite impressive to see. The viewing platform here is where the staircase ends. Hurricane Falls From there, you can hike on the canyon floor if you get a permit from the state park. Your have to boulder hop across the river, then there is a trail to the next fall in the series, 50 ft Oceana Falls. Tempesta Falls I did this trip with some friends 3 years ago, and we made it also to the final fall, 17 ft Bridal Veil Falls, which is also known as “Sliding Rock Falls,” implying you can slide down it, which we all did. But I didn’t do that hike along the base this day.

Instead, I wanted a good photo of Tespesta Falls, since I didn’t have one yet. So I gave my quads a good workout up those steps, and then around to the other (south) rim of the gorge. From there I came to a nice viewpoint where you can see Tempesta Falls from a distance (again, this day with fog hanging over the gorge). It was good to get a photo of the fall, but really experiencing it from afar isn’t as impressive as being nearby them in the gorge itself.

Caledonia CascadeMy final goal for the day was to capture a photo of the Caledonia Cascade. It is a 600 ft waterfall, which pours from a feeder stream down the side of the gorge. It’s a low-flow waterfall, as you can see in the photo I took from across the gorge, even in spring, and often is almost non-existent later in the year. Much of it can’t be seen from the other side due to tree cover, and as such, this photo only represents around 1/4 of the full height of the fall. It’s funny–sometimes books or websites obsess over which waterfalls are the “tallest,” implying that’s automatically the best. I think this is a good example of how it’s not always the case; though this is one of the tallest waterfalls in Georgia, it certainly isn’t one of the “best,” at least in my opinion. Even though the cascade wasn’t impressive, the Tallulah Gorge was, and the weather on Saturday was great for photography and waterfalling.

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Water Flow Update: good water flow in north Georgia, especially since there have been lots of recent rains.
Spring Foliage Update: foliage decent up to almost 2000 ft in Georgia, above that just starting (dogwoods, etc, but not greenery).

Blood Mountain is the 6th highest mountain in Georgia (at 4,458 ft), and the highest point of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, surrounded by a great wilderness area. It has a wonderful view from on top of it after a great (though steep) hike. And being high, water flows off it steeply, so there are a number of waterfalls falling from the sides of it. Both Scott and I (at different times) had visited some of these waterfalls, but there were more we hadn’t hit yet, so that was the plan for this past Saturday morning. Another part of the motivation was that I had a copy of a nicely done new book of hikes to Georgia waterfalls, Waterfall Hikes of North Georgia, by Jim Parham, which described hikes to these waterfalls.

The first waterfall was Crow Mountain Creek Falls 1Crow Mountain Creek Falls (we passed by Dick’s Creek Falls, which we both had photographed before, and there were a lot of fishermen there). Around 3 years ago, I found out about this waterfall, only finding one photo of it on the web. So I tried to find it, bushwhacking up the creek for 1 hour before giving up–on the way back, I came across the trail to the falls, but without time to go back. So I have wanted to visit these falls to see them for a while. We followed the book’s directions, and followed a old logging road up for 1 mile up to the top of the falls, and were definitely impressed by them. They are a series of multiple cascades and slides that descend for more than 100 ft. The only problem is that there wasn’t really a great viewpoint to photograph these falls well. The first photo here I actually fell on the wet rock getting into position, and dropped the camera, though it has (thankfully!) been working well since then–thanks for being weather resistant!

Crow Mountain Creek Falls 2We continued down the side of the mountain, trying to find a viewpoint of the falls that really displayed how impressive they are. Toward the bottom of them, I found this vantage point, which I had to climb onto a bunch of downed trees to get into, but I think gave the best perspective I could find. The falls in first photo are all in the uppermost part of this second photo, just to give you perspective on the size of it. Though we had to admit they aren’t the most photogenic falls, it was a very cool waterfall to see (finally for me!), and the sun stayed away enough for photography. So mission #1 for the day was accomplished.

The next task was to get to Upper Blood Mountain Creek Falls. Both of us have previously been to Milddle and Lower Blood Mountain Creek Falls, but not the upper falls. Pool Below Upper Blood Mountain FallsWe used a higher-clearance vehicle to cross Crow Mountain Creek, and drove to the end of the road at the entrance to Blood Mountain Wilderness. Then it’s a easily-followed trail for 1 mile (the last 1/2 of which along Blood Mountain Creek) to the upper falls. At the base of the upper falls was this beautiful little cascade into a nice pool Upper Blood Mountain Creek Falls on the right, really showing off the nice setting here. Then you have to climb a little up a bolder field to get to the base of the upper falls, the main drops of which are around 40-50 ft tall. As you can see in Scott’s photo, the water spreads over a rock face, then takes a sharp right turn down the mountainside. We sat and just enjoyed the setting for a while, then returned back up the final hill to the car.

There was one final stop Upper Dick's Creek Falls this day, which was a “bonus fall” that we didn’t know before existed, Upper Dick’s Creek Falls. We saw it right beside the road to Upper Blood Mountain Creek, but visited it on the way back, especially since there were fishermen there the first time. We stopped by and visited this nice little 20 ft fall as the finale for the day. It was not an amazing fall, but required no effort to get to, and still has the wonderful brown creekbed color I love in north Georgia. Visiting 3 waterfalls that I hadn’t seen before made this definitely a successful day!

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