Archive for the ‘Atlanta’ Category

The title is in followup to Doug’s previous post about a waterfall we checked out last weekend in Gwinnett County. The waterfall that you see in this post I visited the previous day from our Gwinnett waterfall visit.

The name of this waterfall is High Shoals Falls and is found in the heart of Paulding County. If you aren’t aware Paulding is the county directly west of Cobb County. The waterfall itself is a 10 minute drive north from downtown Dallas. From Dallas you have about a 30 minute drive to back towards Marietta.

I came across High Shoals while talking on the phone with Doug discussing a new blog he had run across. The blog is about waterfalling around Georgia. While discussing with Doug about some of the falls the blogger had visited I came across another mention of a waterfall north of Dallas and so opened up Google Earth to see if I could find anything about it. As it would happen I found two pics from Panoramio on the waterfall from Google Earth (you would be surprised how many times this happens).

The next Saturday I decided to drive out to Dallas and see if I could find and visit the waterfall. It seemed like a pretty easy find and hike, so I didn’t anticipate any problems.

I arrived at the cemetery mentioned in the directions and where I was supposed to park my car. The area was small, for like maybe 4 or 5 cars. There was a sign showing the park hours (I forget what it said specifically). I grabbed my gear, my dog Sally, and headed down the trail.

The trail was a short 200 or 300 yards down the trail. The area is very unassuming and quiet.  You can hear the waterfall not far after you start down the trail. Once you arrive the waterfall faces you on the trail and makes for a really nice scene. The first picture above is what you see as you arrive.

What is really cool about this waterfall is that it is so out of the way, and so unknown, that chances are you will have the place to yourself. The flow of the creek and shape of the contours of the land are seemingly perfect for shots from either side of the creek that flows down from the waterfall. The rock face that the falls tumble over create a small amphitheater and climbing to the top of the falls from either side is relatively easy. The falls spill into a fairly shallow splash pool and give way to some small cascades just beyond the pool. Overall all I have to say this might be the most accessible waterfall I’ve ever been to. The only unfortunate thing about it I would say is that beyond this place there isn’t really anything else, waterfall related, beyond a good 30 to 45 minute drive.

Technically speaking I had to do some filter stacking with the sun conditions. It was basically late morning (noon-ish) so the sun was nice and high in the sky. My 8x ND filter and polarizer worked out well. I shot multiple exposures and processed with exposure blending to get the results you see here. The panoramic below was from 5 frames, taken from left to right, with 3 exposures each. It is simply amazing how good Photoshop has gotten now with merging for panoramics. My suggestion would be to hit this waterfall later in the day or early morning. If you live in the Atlanta area I would certainly recommend checking out this waterfall…. it is worth the out of the way trip.

Don’t forget you can find the location of this waterfall and many others throughout the Eastern US via our waterfall database.


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Water Levels Update: typical spring levels currently, depending on recent rain.
Spring Color Update: still not much to speak of above the Piedmont (and barely any there).

There were two water towers that were seen along Interstate 85 in Gwinnett County in the Atlanta metro area–which I often passed going to north Georgia for waterfalls. One of the towers said “Gwinnett is Great,” and is the reason for the title here (the towers were taken down last year). Scott & I decided to take advantage of perfect early spring weather, and visit some waterfalls we learned about in another blog I found recently from someone else who is visiting local waterfalls. Based on her description, we decided to check it out, especially since they weren’t far away.

Freeman’s Mill Park is a relatively new Gwinnett County Park the primary goal of which is to preserve a historic grist mill. Freeman's Mill Dam FallsThe mill looks nice, though it isn’t yet restored inside; however, we were interested in the waterfall nearby. There was a man-made fall created by overflow from the former dam for the mill. Though I tend to prefer natural falls to man-made, it was a nice setting, looking appealing even with full sun on the scene (usually not great for waterfall photos), and filters allowed me to get a long-exposure shot that I was pleased with.

Alcovy Lower FallsBoth of us had seen a few posts about the area, and knew there was another waterfall there, which we saw across the creek. We got across to it, and checked it out. I would be careful about this, since I don’t know about access to this, though there were no posted signs around telling of it being private. There we came across another waterfall, almost 20 ft tall, a nice sloping natural fall. Again sun made it difficult waterfall photography conditions, but I think Scott was pleased with this shot. I think this setting in spring greenery–and on a day with even lighting–could be really beautiful for waterfall photography. We looked around the area, and Scott had heard there was an upper waterfall, so we continued up beside the fall to explore further.

Sure enough, we came across the upper fall after a few hundred feet of mostly walking along the creekbed (once above the lower fall). Alcovy Upper Falls This fall was really impressive, and more dramatic than we expected it to be, being more than 30 ft series of steps. It also had really beautiful rock colors. However, the sun really did a number on any photo that was taken of it, providing way too much contrast. Again, I think that with spring greenery, flow, and even lighting, this could produce a really amazing waterfall shot. We’ll just have to come back later in the spring to try…

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Ruffs Grist Mill Ruin

Ruffs Grist Mill Ruin

Who knew? Well, I do now 🙂  I knew about some old mill ruins just off of the Silver Comet Trail in the Vinning/Smyrna area and decided to take Sally (my dog) down for a hike to see them. I had been once before but didn’t bring my camera so this was my first chance to photographically record them. As I began to explore the area I headed up a trail going away from the ruins and up the creek that the mill sits next to (Nickajack Creek for those who need to know). As I hiked along the trail started climbing away from the creek, which was somewhat unexpected, and I started to hear what sounded like  waterfall… Hmmm!!! What could this be?

Well, as I rounded the bend staring right at me was a small waterfall/cascade I knew nothing about. As I approached I realized that there wasn’t a trial that led you down so I had to scramble down a fairly steep bank to check this guy out first hand. Just to cover the basics… The waterfall is roughly about 5 feet in height (yeah, thats impressive), but yet it covers the whole length of the creek (about 30 to 40 feet across).

What I found even more interesting was the setting of the falls themselves and it is very apparent that these falls where probably much larger at some point years ago as the rock formation just to the sides are much higher and would have made for probably closer to a 8 to 10 foot high waterfall spanning across that 30 to 40 feet. but then, I could be completely wrong as I’m certainly no geologist.

Ruffs Mill Cascade Falls

Ruffs Mill Cascade Falls

Also what is interesting about this small waterfall is the history of this area and the adjacency of Ruffs Mill to the Covered Bridge district on Concord Road. If you want to learn a little more about the history check this out

One other note, as I was finding links related to Nickajack Creek… apparently there are cascades and/or rapids enough to be called class II & III’s along a 4 mile stretch of the creek. I found this slightly surprising, but then, Sweetwater Creek, which isn’t that far off, has some pretty intense rapids itself… further investigation is needed I think 🙂

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