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Posts Tagged ‘Georgia waterfalls’

Now that I’m living in Seattle, I don’t get a chance to visit Southeastern US waterfalls very often, which is why I haven’t posted on this blog in 4 years. But when a friend of mine was asking my recommendation for Georgia waterfalls, it inspired me to do a series of review posts, of which this is the first. My plan is to highlight waterfalls I’ve visited in each region over the years (also mentioning other waterfalls in the process). We’ll start in the Northwest corner of Georgia.

Cloudland Canyon Waterfall 1

Lookout mountain runs along the extreme northwest corner of the state, reaching from southern Tennessee into Alabama. On that ridge lies one of my favorite Georgia State Parks, Cloundland Canyon. It has beautiful views, but for the sake of this topic, it has a couple of the most beautiful waterfalls in Georgia. On the Waterfall Trail you descend from the mountaintop down 1,200 stairsteps, and the above photo shows the first waterfall you Cloudland Canyon Waterfall 1 Autumnencounter. For years we’ve called Waterfall #1, though a public vote changed its name to Cherokee Falls. Regardless what you call it, it’s a beautiful 60 ft waterfall, falling into a great rock amphitheater with a splash pool. it is usually best to visit in spring, since in dry summers it often dries up to almost nothing. As you can see in the photo on the right, there are lots of photo composition possibilities around the pool. That photo also shows if you get there in autumn after a rain, it also can be a magical place.

Cloudland Canyon Waterfall 2The next waterfall you encounter at the bottom of the stairs is what used to be known as Waterfall #2, now known as Hemlock Falls. It is a beautiful 90 ft waterfall, also falling into a nice rock amphitheater. Photographically possibilities are more limited because the state park built a very nice viewing platform, not wanting people to injure themselves exploring elsewhere, and that limits access. This is the end of the Waterfalls Trail, but it isn’t the end to waterfalls at Cloudland Canyon. The end of the Waterfalls Trail is the start of the Sitton’s Gulch Trail, which continues down from here along Daniel Creek for another 2 miles.

Cloudland Canyon Waterfall 3ARight at the start, it passes by two smaller waterfalls (not officially named by the State Park). Scott and I named them years ago Waterfall #3A & #3B, given they are in quick succession, and not as tall as the first two. The first fall (#3A) is a 20 ft drop, and very photogenic, with composition opportunities all around it. Cloudland Canyon Waterfall 3B AutumnThe second fall here (#3B) is a small ledge drop of Daniel Creek right after the pool for #3A. But what it lacks in height, it makes up for with composition possibilities from different angles, two photos of which I included here (from different angles and seasons).Cloudland Canyon Waterfall 3B There are also other seasonal waterfalls at Cloudland that you might find; but for now, I’ll leave you with the main falls.


Lulu Falls' BaseThe next area that I’ll mention is also on Lookout Mountain, in land owned by the Lulu Lake Land Trust. The land is open to the public usually on two Saturdays a month. It has trailsLulu Falls and the beautiful Lulu Lake (and the small Lulu Lake Falls going into the lake). For today’s discussion though, it also has the very impressive Lula Falls, where Rock Creek pours over 100 ft straight down. This waterfall is similar in style to the main two waterfalls in Cloudland, pouring over the escarpment into a large rock amphitheater. It doesn’t have the pool at the base like the Cloudland falls, but you can walk all around it (and even in the fall), as you can see from the large photo above.

There are also other waterfalls in this far western part of the state, the most famous of which is Keown Falls, managed by the Forest Service. It is extremely low-flow, so I’d recommend it only in spring after a good rain; I haven’t captured a good photo of it. But my blog partner Scott did a blog post here where he captured Keown Falls, Little Keown Falls, and another in the area called Pocket Falls.


A little further to the east still in far north Georgia is the vast and beautiful Cohutta wilderness of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest. Barnes Creek FallsThe area has 90 miles of trails deep into wilderness, on many of which you will encounter few people the entire day (one day I saw more wild boars than people). There are also many waterfalls in the Cohutta, but most of them I haven’t been able to visit. The most famous waterfall in the Cohutta is the 80 ft powerful Jacks River Falls. The classic hike to get to Jacks River Falls is epic, requiring an 18 mile (round trip) hike with 20 river crossings. I still would like to try that sometime, but I have not yet.

But there are other waterfalls in the Cohutta I have visited. One roadside fall is the 15 feet Barnes Creek Falls, part of which is shown on the right. The Forest Service has a picnic area by the waterfall, and it’s worth stopping when in the area.

Both times I have stopped by Barnes Creek has been on my way to other waterfalls in the Cohutta, hiking to Panther Creek Falls. Panther Creek is tough to access, with two options requiring either a long hike with a ridiculously steep drop to get to the top of the Pather Creek Falls 1fall (the direction we went) or many waist-deep stream crossings. The day we went there was dense fog, and it was so beautiful that the grueling hike was worth the effort. Panther Creek Falls itself is a huge 400 ft tall waterfall. But it’s difficult to get a view of it all since it’s deep in wilderness with no viewing platform–and the day we were there it was too foggy to see all of the fall. So I contented myself with photos of sections of it, as in the photos to the left and below. Here’s a link to a photo by Mark Morrison that shows the main drop. There are also many other falls in the Cohutta, and most hiking books have descriptions how to get there. And hiking in the Cohutta is a worthy adventure in its own right.

Pather Creek Falls 2

So there you have 3 places in northwest Georgia (and a 4th if there’s a lot of rain) that are great locations to explore waterfalls. Once spring starts soon, I expect you all who now live nearby to get out and explore some waterfalls!

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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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