Posts Tagged ‘North Georgia’

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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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 🙂 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 🙂  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 🙂

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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