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Archive for the ‘North Georgia’ Category

Water Levels Update: normal spring levels currently, so get out there and enjoy waterfalls!
Spring Greenery Update: Wonderful spring greenery (in Georgia at least).

I took a trip this past weekend going up to Moccasin Feeder 1Moccasin Creek, near Lake Burton and before the creek flows through Moccasin Creek State Park. I thought I’d try to get to the Upper Falls on Moccasin Creek, which eluded us on my first trip here; and though I didn’t make it there again, this time it was because sometimes the journey is more important. On my way to the trail head, at Lake Burton I encountered evidence of the dramatic destruction a F3 tornado did to over 100 houses by the lake, a tornado I hadn’t heard about (obviously the news was then dominated by the more deadly tornadoes the same day in Alabama). After passing by that, amazed, I started the Hemlock Falls Trail, following cascading Moccasin Creek. I’d been along this trail before, but that time the sun made it such that I didn’t get any decent photographs. The trail easily goes to Hemlock Falls in just 1.1 miles, passing 4 other small falls along the creek before it. Most visitors stop there, but the the trail continues up to Upper Falls, though it requires wading the creek to get there.

This time, I waited until late in the afternoon–so the sun would be hidden from view–and I was rewarded with wonderful photography conditions. The first waterfall I encountered was for a small feeder stream into Moccasin Creek, a nice delicate 15 ft fall (see in the photo above). Then shortly after that was the first drop on Moccasin Creek itself, a 10 ft slice through rocks, which I thought was in a really nice setting, and I was here for quite a while taking photos. The spring greenery really jumped out for me this day (as you’ll also see also for the other photos today). Moccasin Creek Falls 1

Only another 0.1 miles up the creek, there was another 10 ft waterfall, but it didn’t look as photogenic to me, Moccasin Creek Falls 3I knew I was losing time, and it required bushwhacking to get to it, so I passed it up this time for greener pastures. That didn’t take very long, since in another 0.1 mi, the next drop occurred, a 10 ft two-step drop that is right before a bridge on the trail crossing to the other side of the creek. Like the first fall, it only required a minimal off-trail scramble to get to it, but I’d only recommend it if you don’t mind risking getting dirty in the mud.

The little falls were coming Moccasin Creek Falls 4quickly now, and again in only another 0.1 mi was the next waterfall, a roaring 20 ft drop. It was actually causing some spray, though I was able to keep my lens dry–and I didn’t slip on the wet rocks, like I did last month at Crow Mountain Creek. I didn’t find this waterfall quite as photogenic, though it was a nice setting, and again the greenery was beautiful around it. However, I did find Moccasin Creek right above this fall really beautiful with many different rock textures and pools: Moccasin Creek

Back on the trail, I was on my way to Hemlock Falls when I thought I heard the sound of a waterfall nearby. Moccasin Feeder 2I followed my ear through an empty campground to a 100+ ft waterfall from a feeder stream. It was pouring down the hillside that created the canyon for Moccasin Creek. This waterfall wasn’t listed in any book I knew of, including a waterfall hiking book that listed the first feeder stream (up top of this page). I’m sure that it is very seasonal–though with the rock base for it, it seems to run somewhat frequently. It was quite striking to see for its height, and it pours immediately into Moccasin Creek, as you can see in the photo.

After this slight detour, I made it finally to Hemlock Falls, which I had to myself (unlike last time with a lot of kids swimming there). I captured photos of it; however, it was getting dark enough that colors where shifting such that I couldn’t get as appealing of a photo as the previous falls (I did what I could with Photoshop to correct colors for the shot below). So even though I had wanted to make it to the Upper Falls, I felt like I saw so many falls this day–and spent so much time photographing them–that it was okay not making it there. Next time I will make it there! But in the meantime, I enjoyed Hemlock Falls, and then journeyed back to the car before sunset.
Hemlock Falls

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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). πŸ™‚ 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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(though it’s early in the season, I thought I’d start adding spring season updates)
Water Level Update: lots of water currently on falls in north Georgia
Spring Greenery Update: no greenery (not surprisingly) in north Georgia yet.

There was a lot of rain over this weekend, and actually in NE Georgia there was a flash flood warning on Sunday. I’ve been wanting to go waterfalling, so I thought it would be perfect chance to visit some normally low-flow (and easily accessible) waterfalls with lots of water on them. I convinced fellow waterfaller Scott to join along, and we went to Rabun County (Georgia’s home to the most waterfalls) to explore. (disclaimer: you have to be careful waterfalling when creeks are at flood stage, and make sure you know what you’re doing. We chose carefully what falls we visited to not get in trouble with mother nature.)

Our first stop was Ada-Hi Falls (sorta) in Black Rock Mountain State Park, to visit the highest altitude waterfall in Georgia (well over 3000 ft elevation). It is a very small drainage, so it is often only a trickle (as it was last time I tried visiting it 3 1/2 years ago, as you can see on the right–though that was autumn, so it should be expected). For that reason, I hadn’t gone back for these years–but I figured flood stage today was the perfect time to visit it. As I mentioned, it’s in Black Rock Mountain State Park, and is a very steep but short <1/2 mile trail to the fall from nearby the campground general store. The trail was a little slick but not difficult, and has Ada-Hi Falls stairs for the very steep sections.

Wonderfully, today there was a lot of water going over the falls, and it looked really beautiful, as you can see (it even had some light fog around). Because of steep terrain around, there is a viewing platform, which significantly limits your photography composition possibilities, but it was still great to photograph it. So if you’re waterfalling nearby and there has been a lot of rain recently, I’d recommend it–otherwise, I’d skip it and visit other waterfalls, since it is admittingly very rare that it looks this beautiful, and there are a lot of wonderful waterfalls in Rabun County. Both of us also really liked the rock texture the water poured over (see below).
Ada-Hi Close-Up
The next stop was in Warwoman Dell, where I visited in a previous post. As I mentioned in that post, there is a small waterfall in the Dell itself, but because it was only a dribble, I didn’t photograph it that time. So again, I thought that with very high water levels, it was perfect time to capture that waterfall. We stopped by the Dell, Warwoman Dell Falls and climbed up 44 old (and mossy) stone steps. There, we came to a previously planned railroad bed; here is some history of the Dell, including about the proposed railroad. The top stone steps actually had water pouring down them, and at the top we were treated to this small but pretty waterfall (and a flooded trail). The photo here shows the waterfall with the railroad bed on the left. The sun now appeared from behind clouds, and it limited what we could do photographically with this waterfall.

Since the sun was now out, it put a damper on our waterfall photography for the rest of the day. We did explore some, finding some waterfalls we hadn’t found (or seen photos of) before–one of which we knew had to be there, though it was good to actually find it. …but that’s for another day, once we’ve explored them more fully. For me, it was great to spend time waterfalling for the first time in months, getting ready for the upcoming waterfall season!

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got a little story for you all… (sorry, I’m not Southern enough to say ya’ll)

I woke up last Saturday, and saw a perfect thick blanket of clouds over Atlanta, making me want to go waterfalling. After a quick debate, I decided where to go.. off Warwoman Road in Rabun County. A little background of why… I visited Becky Branch Falls and Martin Creek Falls 3 years ago, and took a photo of Martin that while I like, I’ve never understood why it’s one of my most popular waterfall shots on Flickr. Regardless, when my friend Little m:) was in town last year, I led an expedition to Martin, remembering it as a relatively easy fall to get to… but I failed, and we managed to get lost. We were along Martin Creek, but couldn’t find the trail, and we came up to the base of a fall, with ruins of a trail, but definitely not like I remembered it. It was very sad… okay, not really, but it was annoying, and haunted me. So I vowed to return, and to find Martin Creek Falls again.

On this day though, the first stop was Becky Branch Falls, near the Warwoman Dell Area. The dell is a valley that the Cherokee named after a woman they called “Warwoman.” Becky Branch FallsThis description of the trail to Becky Branch describes also some history of the dell. From there, it is a quick 1/4 mile hike up to Becky Branch along the Bartram Trail, a long trail that meanders through this part of Georgia (and the Carolinas). It’s ~20 ft tall, easily accessible, with a nice rooster tail. It’s worth the short hike. Also in Warwoman Dell itself, there is a small fall, but it is low flow, and it was only dribbling that day, so I didn’t take any photos of it.

Next I prepared myself for the main event of the morning, Martin Creek. I had the same information I had both when I succeed easily and failed before (Jack Anthony‘s info). I parked at the same location, and crossed Martin Creek. …there I discovered our error last time. Instead of heading up the hill straight ahead, last time we followed a trail that remained along Martin Creek itself. Martin Creek Falls I even last time climbed partly up the hill, and found ruins of an old trail, now abandoned (maybe before re-routing the Bartram Trail?). Instead this time, I followed the other trail up the hill, and I found the Bartram Trail again. I followed this as it led up Martin Creek–further upstream than where we were last time–and after 1/3 of a mile, it easily led me to Martin Creek Falls, just as I remembered. It’s an impressive 30 ft fall, though it was too windy that day, which blurred the foliage in my photo.

On my way back, I wanted to understand what was this fall that we explored last time? The creek has rapids around Martin Creek Falls, then becomes placid for 1/4 of a mile before starting rapids again, Martin Creek Cascadelike those you can see here on the right. Then the creek shoots down a narrow channel in rock, and comes out of the narrow canyon into the falls we explored last time, mistaking them for the “main” falls (we thought perhaps changed by storms).

I then backtracked down the hill, to the trail we went on last time. Again, I saw the yellow mark on a tree branch (which should suggest the Bartram Trail, one thing that confused me last time). I followed it to the base of the lower falls, and with minimally getting my feet wet–but totally worth it–I climbed past the lowest cascades (which only Little m:) did last time) to see this stunning scene in front of me:
Lower Martin Creek Falls
I’m not quite sure the photo can show how beautiful it is.

I then scrambled back to the trail, contented that I finally solved the mystery of Martin Creek…

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This past Saturday was a perfect waterfalling day, perfectly overcast with no rain (but with lots of recent rain). So I knew I couldn’t pass it up, and I decided to visit a fall I hadn’t in ~4 years, Dukes Creek. I hadn’t been there in a while since though it is very impressive (>200 ft), there are a lot of trees in the way, and you can’t get a good shot of it, it isn’t very photogenic. But it was time to re-explore it; off I went to north Georgia.

Dukes Creek Falls is in the National Forest, and there is a parking lot ($3), and a <1 mile nicely kept trail. Being it in January, the trail wasn’t too crowded, though a number of people were there. Even one of my Flickr contacts was there earlier in the day (great minds think alike?)! For those who don’t want to descend, there is a distant viewpoint of the falls before the ~300 ft descent (photo of that view below). I hiked down the trail, and started at the bottom, taking photos as a reason to stop on the way back up.

Now, with this fall is a bit of a nomenclature problem. The fall officially called Dukes Creek Falls (on USGS Topo) is actually on Davis Creek right before it joins Dukes Creek, as you can see it doing here. Dukes Creek Falls is very tall, but again, from the base you can’t get a great shot of it. What I don’t know, is if the creek before Davis Creek joins it is called Dukes Creek already, or is Dodd Creek. I think it is Dukes, so I am going to go with that for the remainder of this.

Both the shot of Dukes Creek Falls and the photo on the left are from the base of the trail, where there is a nice series of boardwalks. This photo is of the last drop of Dukes Creek before it joins with Davis Creek, a nice 15 ft double drop. From here, you can’t see all of Dukes Creek’s cascades before it.

From there, I started the climb back up on the trail. After an initial ascent, the trail follows along Dukes Creek above the main fall area. Around mid-way up the trail, I scampered down the hillside to the most impressive fall (~10 ft drop) during that stretch, which I think is more beautiful than either of the falls at the base. (I wouldn’t recommend this scamper unless you are used to off-trail hiking.)

As I made it up to the top of the trail, I stopped and took a photo at the viewpoint for the fall, which is not a bad setting, though you can only see the upper half of the fall. (It looked cool with the fog today, at least.)

After I finished the trail, I went exploring (as was described in Anthony’s site above) the top of the falls you see in the photo on the right. You drive on a forest road beside the parking lot for Raven Cliff Trail. After making it to the pull-off, it’s a short unmarked but easy-to-follow trail to the top of Dukes Creek Falls. Right above the main fall is a very nice 30 ft fan with a great pool in front of it, seen below. Across the impressive open valley also you see Dukes Creek itself cascading down 200 ft to meet up with Davis Creek, more impressive than you can tell from the other side.

I definitely need to go back in spring (or autumn) to try to capture this open area’s beauty on top of the falls. I know that there are falls also on Davis Creek further above Dukes Creek Falls, but given I needed to get home, they will wait until next time visiting there. Definitely an enjoyable day, really getting me enjoying winter waterfalling!

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Georgia Ice Since I was going to take a trip from Georgia up to Ohio for family events, I thought I’d stop by in North Carolina, and hit some waterfalls along the way. I hoped to see maybe some winter ice on the falls, like I saw ice along the road in north Georgia (on the right here)–I actually came across some friends who were driving on the road as I went down to take photos of this ice. I took off with Adams’ trusty guide of NC waterfalls, and had an idea of many possible to visit, depending how weather went (mostly visiting easily accessible falls due to the ice & snow). Though there was some snow around, I sadly only captured a little bit of ice on any of the falls, though I ended up visiting 4 falls, and enjoyed the day overall.

The first fall I visited was Mud Creek Falls in north Georgia, almost into North Carolina. In fact, so close that the road to the falls actually starts in North Carolina. Mud Creek Falls You drive through the Sky Valley Community, to the back of the community, down a dead-end road, and park just feet from the falls. It’s an impressive fall to see in person, and I don’t think I captured here how impressive it is, though I tried here to show the area around the falls. I had the falls mostly to myself, and carefully jumped across the creek on rocks, watching the ice, since I didn’t want to take a cold creek bath; luckily, I was able to remain dry. I may enjoy creek wading, but not this time of year…

I drove through Highlands, NC–it looking great covered in snow–and on to Cashiers. From Cashiers, I drove down to Silver Run Falls, which is on NC-107 5 miles south of Cashiers, just off the road. Silver Run Falls It’s a nice fall that I had visited years ago, before I was really into photography, so it was good to revisit. It has a great pool below it, and I managed to get a few shots, despite the sun now appearing and causing me significant problems. But it tucked under clouds for a few minutes, long enough for a couple shots. There is an Upper Silver Run Falls, but given the sun problems, I decided not to climb to it that day. I need to come back with better waterfalling weather. πŸ™‚

I next thought about stopping by other falls, but because of constant sun, gave up on those falls, and visited Gorges State Park, which was shrouded in fog. I thought about visiting the impressive Horsepasture River, but wanted to hit some other falls I hadn’t seen before the day was done. Looking Glass Falls I went to Brevard, and up into the Pisgah National Forest. First stop was Looking Glass Falls, which is right beside the road, and therefore had plenty of people visiting it, even in winter. It’s a very impressive fall, was really roaring in winter–though photographically, compositions are limited some by where you are allowed to go because of railings, and there were quite a few people there.

Moore Cove Falls Lastly, I went up the road another 1/2 mile, and took the 6/10 mile trail to Moore Cove Falls. It was a muddy & icy trail, but not too problematic to travel on. By happenstance, I actually came across a nice father and son pair of photographers (father lives in the area) on the trail and shooting the fall at the same time, who I also saw at Looking Glass Falls. Moore Cove Falls is (as expected) in a nice cove, with the water pouring into the center. It’s a lower flow fall, but with plenty this time of year, and around 50 ft tall. By the time I slid my way back to the car, it was getting dark, so the day was done–but at least it was good to get a day of waterfalling in while I was traveling anyway. I can’t wait for waterfall season to begin in earnest, and I’m sure there will be more winter waterfalling soon!

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The weekend before Christmas I was supposed to head up with Doug and another fellar and do some hiking and waterfalling. Well, at the

Koewn Falls on Johns Mountain

Koewn Falls

last minute plans changed and I was on my own. I got up early Saturday morning, grabbed my gear, my dog (Sally), and off we went.

The plan was to hit several falls in the Northwestern part of the state (Georgia) – Keown Falls, Pocket Falls, and to investigate a waterfall on Waterfall Branch. There was a specific reason for planning to hit these falls on this day… Rain! These waterfalls are much more water/rain dependent than a lot of other falls around the state. I had heard stories of how Koewn Falls was usually just a trickle (insert fun times here Doug). Anyhow, The day before our area of the country had seen several inches of rain and so it just made sense to try and hit these falls at the right time. Following are the falls I hit in order of my visiting them.

First up: Keown Falls… Once at the parking area for the waterfall you start hiking into the woods on a clearly defined path. After a bit

you cross the creek and start a series of switch backs up John’s Mtn. At the time, I had no idea you had to do this and was mentally unprepared… thankfully, I am strong mentally and was able to persevere πŸ™‚ Once you reach the top the trail steps up to a viewing platform and the mountain ridge trail, or continues on to the main waterfall. Even with the rain the waterfall wasn’t over powering but was a cool scene to see. The fall itself drapes over a rock ledge which creates an amphitheater of rock and allows you to proceed behind the waterfall.

Little Koewn Falls

Little Koewn Falls

The trail continues on along a ledge on the mountain top (there is rock outcropings of about 30 or 40 feet to the top of the mountain), and eventually, after several 100 yards you reach the second falls or Little Koewn Falls. Because of the wet conditions there was plenty of water flow to both falls but as I was there I thought Little Koewn was more interesting to shoot.

Next is Pocket Falls: This waterfall finds itself in the Pigeon Mtn. region of Northwest Georgia and just outside of the county seat of LaFayette. Pigeon Mtn. has become famous historically from the civil war and then more recently because of the caving that takes place here. If you are wondering what kind of caving check THIS OUT!!!

I came to Pigeon Mtn. though for other reasons… Yep, you guessed it, a waterfall πŸ™‚Β  Getting to the falls is easily traveled around the mountain, from LaFayette, to the west side. After turning down pocket Road you run out of pavement after about a mile. If you have a car with lower clearance you may not be able to make it all the way to the parking area as right at the end you have to ford a small creek. Me and my Mazda 3 decided not to take on the ford.

At the parking area you can access the handicap parking area and the boardwalk or head up pocket trail. But keep in mind if you go up pocket trail you will go up, over, and around the falls, not at the falls (you can see it and get a high vantage point though). The main access to the waterfall is from the nature boardwalk they have set up. Once this ends you take a rough trail along the creek to the falls.

What was interesting about Pocket Falls was the color of the rock. It had a more beige tint to it than most rock you see in Georgia. Anyhow, when you get to the falls you will probably want to shoot it closer and up the bank to the right side of the falls. The unfortunate thing about Pockets Falls is that the main drop is so high up on the canyon walls that where you stand puts you fairly far below the falls. The panoramic shot here shows the view from on the right bank. None of my lower shots really came out the way I wanted. I guess just another reason to visit the place again πŸ™‚

Overall the trip was fun and it was cool to see some new places I knew nothing about nor had I ever seen. I did try and find a little place from the east side of Pigeon Mtn. called Blue Hole (which was right near Waterfall Branch supposedly), but apparently it was so obvious I drove right past it and never saw it… what are you going to do? Next time…

Panoramic of Pocket Falls

Pocket Falls

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