There are a handful of waterfalls named after the Spanish explorer DeSoto in the southeast. I know of at least two in Georgia alone and one in Alabama. These pictures are of upper and lower DeSoto Falls located off of highway 129 in North Georgia.
Upper DeSoto Falls reached by a 1.5 mile round trip trail.
Lower DeSoto Falls reached by a .5 mile round trip trail.
Our home state of Georgia is mostly woods and farmland and that’s about the extent of some people’s view on Georgia’s landscape. Some people are surprised to find out we have mountains (small ones but mountains nonetheless). Even fewer people are aware that the state contains large canyons, three to be exact (Providence Canyon, Cloudland Canyon, and Tallulah Gorge). Obviously that is nothing compared to most western states but to a state of mostly farms and pines they are a big deal.
Tallulah Gorge is perhaps the most popular with it’s massive waterfalls, steep 1,000 foot cliffs, and unmitigated beauty. Tallulah Gorge State Park’s North Rim Trail is a great trail that takes you to six incredible overlooks above the canyon. The trail is mostly flat and only 1.5 miles round trip.
Overlook #1 is also originally named “Inspiration Point” and shows Oceana Falls and horseshoe bend rock formation.
Overlook #2 gives a slightly new view of Oceana Falls as well as Bridal Veil Falls (another unique name)
Overlook #3 shows off three more waterfalls; L’Eau d’Or Falls, Tempesta Falls, and Hawthorne Cascades and the Hawthorne Pool.
Overlook #4 is another view of L’Eau d’Or Falls and Hawthorne Pool. From here the ruins of an old water compressor plant can be seen. As well as the Tallulah Falls Dam.
Overlook #5 is an awesome view of Tallulah Falls Dam which was has been around since 1913. Georgia’s oldest living resident is 113 years old and would have been 8 years old at the time of the dam’s completion. It is likely that no one alive remembers or could recall this natural wonder’s natural state. Each overlook is no more than a fence or a small wooden porch built on the canyon’s edge except for 5. 5 has a large stone and concrete platform. When I went recently and took these pictures the whole thing had a giant pool of snowmelt in it.
Overlook #6 is another view of Hawthorne and also just a great view of the gorge.
Tallulah is an easy day trip from Atlanta, Asheville, or Chattanooga. There is also so much in that area that a weekend trip or even a weeklong trip could be spent in northeast Georgia. I love the western United States and there is no denying the the nature there is bigger and wilder than the heavily populated a long inhabited east but there is still wilderness and extreme beauty here in the east and I would encourage anybody to get out and explore it.
Thanks! – Josh
Welcome back readers – we are going strong on our mission to visit all the beautiful Georgia State Parks. The days are getting long and hot here in Georgia, so today we headed out bright and early for Fort Mountain, a State Park about 2 hours north of Atlanta. The park gets it’s name for the nearly 900 foot long “fort” rock wall located atop the mountain. The history behind the namesake fort is a bit muddy, as there is no definitive explanation for who built the wall (or why.)
After some exceptionally curvy mountain driving (not my favorite activity), we arrived at the entrance of Fort Mountain State Park. This park is primarily used by tent, RV, and cottage campers, so they had a well-stocked Trading Post that we stopped in at. In the building was a massive taxidermy black bear who had previously called the park home. According to a sign, he was illegally killed by a hunter, but the body was retrieved to be displayed in the park. Our 3 year old was terrified of the bear- Hopefully that means he will listen when we talk about bear safety!
The park is fairly large, so we drove over to the beginning of the most popular trail. It is was a 1.5 mile hike that summits to the park’s fire tower, which visitors are permitted to climb (with a ranger present) for a spectacular view. We then looped down to the fort which the park was named for. The “fort” is more of a long pile of rocks than anything. We hiked around it for a bit and spotted some millipedes, but not much else in the wildlife department. The loop trail hike itself was fairly easy and mostly shady. We ended our trip with a packed lunch by the park’s lake, which features a small swimming beach and different types of boat rentals.
On our way home, we were able to drive by two Historic Sites, the Chief Vann House and New Echota. Both of these are located on the Trail of Tears and feature Native American History. We didn’t get out and explore because we had a sleeping kid in the back, and both required guided tours with admission, no free exploration of the grounds, which we weren’t really up for waiting around for. I did snap some pictures out of the window though! Overall, it was a really nice day exploring North Georgia’s bright green spring wildlife and getting a small taste of history.
Until next week- Rebekah
These are some pictures from the snow this weekend in Cloudland Canyon State Park!
Thanks! – Josh
Cloudland Canyon State Park in northeast Georgia is a great place for a day trip or weekend camping trip from Atlanta or Chattanooga. The aptly named Waterfalls Trail takes you to the parks two largest waterfalls, Cherokee and Hemlock falls. The trail is only 2.1 miles round-trip but is also entirely a steep stairway descending into the canyon so going back up will wipe you out. About half a mile in you will reach the 60 foot Cherokee Falls. Cherokee drops into a large pool before turning back into the small Sitton’s Gulch Creek.
A little over half a mile later you will reach Hemlock Falls. Hemlock is 30 feet taller than its upstream partner and splashes down onto the rocks below. Though Hemlock is more impressive it’s view is somewhat obstructed by a large tree and a giant boulder that can’t help but make you question where such a large rock fell from.
A lot of people try to get a better view by leaving the platform and getting closer to the Falls but you have to walk past multiple signs warning you to not leave the trail so you should probably not do this. The trail continues past Hemlock Falls and turns into the Sitton Gulch Trail but most people turn back up towards the canyon’s rim. The hike won’t take you more than an hour and gives you two beautiful waterfalls to enjoy as well as a bit of a workout on the way back up! Whether you live nearby or are traveling by I’d say that Cloudland Canyon is worth the visit for sure!
Thanks! – Josh
About a month ago I was at work, halfway through my shift when I got a text from a friend saying; “want to go camping this weekend?”. I said yes and I got off work at 5pm and we left at 6pm. We drove into north Georgia and followed a dirt road far into the woods that dead ended at the Appalachian Trail. We got to our backcountry site off the side of the dirt road well after dark to find that the site’s previous occupants had left us a surprise. The fire pit was filled with trash, empty and full beer cans, whole liters of coke, multiple loaves of bread, and a ripped in half trash bag. We also found multiple pairs of socks strewn about the site as well as vomit on a tree. Needless to say this wasn’t the best example of Leave No Trace. It was probably 10pm when we started cleaning up the trash and an hour later we had stuffed it all in the car and cleaned the site up as good as new. We made food and coffee and called it a night after hanging out by the fire for a while.
The next day We decided to hike a small bit of the AT. We took the 1.5mile connector trail that took us to where Tray Gap and Addis Gap meet. We hadn’t planned which way to go and ended up going towards Tray Mountain. Tray is the second tallest mountain on the AT in Georgia and is only a few feet shorter than the tallest, Blood Mountain. The first point of interest we hit was the Swag of the Blue Ridge sign and took our picture by it.
There were a lot of long steep stretches that took us over a couple mountains. And at some point we took a side trail to fill up on water. We reached the bottom of Tray and sat down in a little grassy knoll to eat some granola before the steep hike to the top. I could have easily fallen asleep on that comfy patch of grass. We didn’t sleep though and forced ourselves upwards towards Tray’s peak. The trek was long and steep but all of the sudden we found ourselves walk out into the small open granite area on top of the mountain. The views were great from the top and we were both excited to reach the top and began to take pictures and admire the views. There were a couple of AT thru-hikers that had reached the top at the same time as us and we chatted with them for a bit before having another snack and heading back. We hiked back as far as the Swag of the Blue Ridge with two other hikers that we got to talk to about hiking gear, mountain lions, travel, and probably more stuff I don’t remember. We left them behind and headed back over two more small mountains before taking our side trail back to the campsite where we made lunch and chilled the rest of the day. We did the math later and we did somewhere around twenty miles of hiking that day without planning to. Spontaneous trips like this one are some of my favorite things to do and can be so relaxing.
Thanks for reading! – Josh
Also sorry about the lack of pictures.
And now back to the third installment of the search for the lost Emery Creek Falls in North Georgia…
After discovering that our upstream trek was all in vain, my Dad and I quickly planned our next excursion to Emery Creek. Having actually found the trailhead last time we drove straight to it in the ol’ Jeep and parked right back in our gravel lot. We took a picture of the trail map on our phones because we aren’t safe hikers that always have topographical hiking maps. We continued down the trail to where our creek on the right met up with the real Emery Creek and after wandering to the left a little bit from where we had been misled by a cairn we found the real green blazed trail we needed (I think it was green anyway, all the blazes from all the trails tend to blend together in my head). We crossed the creek twice back to back and continued up along the creek, crossing it occasionally. This trail was much easier to follow compared to our non-trail from before. The trail was also relatively flat with only a few little ups and downs. After crossing the creek again we walked into and open area with some rock fire pits and open areas for tents then as the trail narrowed back down and strayed from the creek a little we passed one of the famed landmarks of Emery Creek Trail… the rusty shell of a pickup truck! We knew the truck was there before we came across it but we didn’t know why so we looked at it for a second and then kept hiking while discussing how and why the truck was there in the woods. The trail continued to meander through rhododendrons, large oaks, ferns, and even a little bamboo and then we crossed the creek again where it opened up into what looked like an unused forest service or ATV road. We passed a small snake that didn’t seem poisonous or threatening in any way and the road quickly met a small stream that flowed into Emery Creek and turned back into a smaller trail. At this point our trail went up a little bit and flattened out about 20-30 feet above our creek with a steep hill to our right going into the water. The trail and the water eventually leveled out again and the foliage around us became thicker. We ran into a downed tree blocking our path and hopped right over it and continued to where the trail once again crossed the creek. At this point we could hear the sound of water rushing down from a height so we hurried our pace. Soon after we came to a split in the trail with the upper falls continuing straight and our waterfall to the left. We went left past a couple more camping spots and all of the sudden our waterfall was right in front of us!
We decided that this was definitely more impressive than what we thought was Emery Creek Falls and after taking some pictures we continued up the trail that goes to the middle of the upper and lower falls where two people had set up their tents and had camped the night before. We looked around a bit and then went back to the upper falls trail. This is where the trail got a little steeper but not too bad still. We kept going up and passed where the top of the falls were and continued on the trail to find an overlook that our map showed. The trail veered to the right and we crossed the creek once again. Right after we crossed the creek we spotted a small camping stove and a tent with a small family outside making breakfast. We said good morning and asked how they were, the dad of the family said he would give us some coffee but he had none left and asked where we were going. We told him we were looking for the overlook up the trail and he warned us like an old crazy wizard to “Be careful, no ones been up there in a long time”. After departing from our creepy friends the trail crossed over another dirt road that once again looked unused. After this the forest floor seemed to slowly creep closer and closer to our feet. The trail also began going uphill and the blazes became few and far between. At some point up our trail we came to a fork in the trail that wasn’t shown on our map. The left fork had many fallen trees and thick thorn bushes so we went right. The trail just kept going up, passing the creek a couple times until we came to what seemed like the spring that Emery Creek was born from. Still having found no overlook we pressed on. The forest changed as we gained altitude and turned from deciduous to solely conifers with their needles littering the floor. The trail came to an open area that then turned into some semi-steep switchbacks. Not too long after the switchbacks started we stopped, sat down, had a snack, and discussed turning back since it had been over and hour since we left the falls and we were about 3 miles past where we had intended to go, on top of that the only water we had left was from my LifeStraw that I had refilled once already. So right there on our unknown mountain we turned back towards the Jeep. Once we had almost returned to the dirt road and back to the upper falls we heard a very loud snap and expecting a deer we looked towards the noise and saw a very large black bear running up a steep hill, away from us. This made our extra hiking all worth it just to see such a large and scary animal but to not be threatened by it. As we came back to where our wizard friend had been we found that their camp was completely cleared out almost as if they had disappeared into the void!! (Or just packed up and went home). We went to the top of the upper falls and looked down at the cascading water drop ten to twenty feet at a time. Wanting to get a good look at it from below I decided to climb down the falls a little bit and Dad followed. Now I don’t usually like to go off trail at all but I suppose I missed our previous creek hopping adventures so we ended up climbing down the entire group of waterfalls right back to the lower falls where the two camping people were packing up camp. We passed them and told them about our bear encounter and the hit the trail back home. We crossed the creek, passed the dirt road with the snake, passed our rusty truck and what felt like no time at all we were back at the Jeep! Feeling quite hungry we snagged some taco bell on the way home and were careful driving through White County this time. We felt quite satisfied with ourselves that day. We had found our waterfall, seen a bear, accidentally hiked a mountain (we ended up hiking almost 12 miles instead of our planned 6), and had a great time!
That wraps up my stories about the search for Emery Creek Falls, thanks for reading and if you are ever in North Georgia and looking for a hike, I recommend Emery Creek Trail just make sure you go more prepared than me!
It was a warm Georgia saturday in June when we set off to find the real Emery Creek Falls. My dad and I hopped in his Jeep Wrangler and drove up Georgia 411 towards the Chattooga Wilderness. This time armed with the map and directions in my book we drove north to Chatsworth and then east till we reached CCC Camp Road (This time on the other side of the mountain from where I had tried to find the falls before). After following the gravel road for about 5 minutes we pulled into the parking lot with a yellow lettered sign reading “Emery Creek Falls”. We had found it! We climbed out of the Jeep, put on our bug spray, and quickly went to examine trail map. We looked at it for a few seconds and quickly hit the trail. The trail begins to go up a little bit then flattening out with a steep hill going down to the creek on your left and then opens up to an open area where two creeks meet up. We crossed to the middle ground between the two creeks where there was a little area to camp with a rock fire pit. We looked around for where the trail continued and spotted a cairn about twenty feet up the right fork of the creek. We followed various cairns and a small trail for about two thirds of a mile before finding that we had lost our trail. We had read that the trail was very difficult to follow and had twenty plus water crossings so we figured instead of getting ticks in the thick brush we would just hop from rock to rock up the creek till we found our trail again. So we hopped and hopped debating which rock was the best to hop to next and which ones were exceptionally slippery. At one point we came to another fork and decided to stick left. Just as we began to carry on hopping up the left creek we couldn’t find a good way to carry on because there was a sudden lack of hopping rocks and thick rhododendrons growing on either side of the creek. So we took of our socks and shoes and walked through the shin high water till we arrived to where the second fork met back up with our creek and it became better for playing leap frog on the rocks. After a little more hopping up the creek like young kids exploring the vast wilderness of their backyard, we were walking in a rocky island in the middle of the creek and just as I was about to hop onto a little beach on the shore I spotted a quite large copperhead snake basking in the summer sun right where my landing zone was. I decided not to jump there and instead retreat a little bit with my dad as the snake had spotted us and was slithering in our direction. We quickly put our socks and shoes back on and concocted the genius plan to just run swiftly around the snake that had slithered behind a rock in the water about a foot from the shore where we would be running. My dad went first (While I held a large rock just in case the snake decided to strike) and he made it through clean. I made my attempt and successfully passed the snake by without agitating it anymore. After that we kept on hopping (Looking out for snakes behind every rock) and we passed a few more creek forks and came to a spot where the water was too deep and rockless to pass so we shimmied up a large fallen tree and climbed through brush and pine straw all while cursing the non-existent trail. We made our way back to the creek and started back at our rock hopping until we ran into two young hikers that seemed just as lost as us coming from the other direction. We asked if they knew where the falls were but they said they were just exploring but had seen a few small waterfalls earlier. With hope that these were indeed our waterfalls we kept on for about half a mile until we came to a one or two foot waterfall and admired it for a second and kept on. Then we came to a nice little water fall that fell into a pool and then again into our creek. At about eight feet high we decided these were the falls we were looking for and took some pictures while eating our peanut butter sandwiches we had packed for a snack. After resting and looking at our waterfall for about fifteen minutes we decided it was time to head back and then went back the way we came. We passed our friends from earlier and passed all the forks in the creek and we didn’t see the snake again and we arrived back at the trailhead in what felt like no time. We felt satisfied in finally finding our waterfall despite the trail not being there but then we got to talking with a man that was about to go hike. He informed us that the waterfall was sixty feet tall and impossible to miss. With those words our hearts sank because our waterfall was definitely not sixty feet tall meaning we had not found the real Emery Creek Falls after all. We went and looked at the map to see where we went wrong and quickly discovered that we had been fooled by the cairns and we should taken the other fork at the very beginning of our journey. “Oh well” we said and planned to follow the real trail another time. We went and got some Taco Bell on the way home and then to end off our day on a nice note we got a ticket for going too fast through White County (Although we still think the ticket was ridiculous).
Thanks for reading! Join us next week to see if Emery Creek Falls really exists or is just some sort of Twilight Zone!! -Josh
I love Goodwill. I try to go often and see if I can find anything good like the original pressing record of Led Zeppelin’s CODA I found or maybe a $70 North Face flannel for only $5 but one day I went to goodwill and found a book titled “Waterfall Walks and Drives in Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama”. This book, written in the mid 90s, has nearly all trails that lead to a waterfall in North Georgia which is great for me because I am always looking for new day hikes. With this book I began picking out a waterfall hike that seemed interesting and I’d make it a day trip on days I wasn’t working. Then one day I came to Emery Creek Falls. It was one of the higher ranked falls in the book (the writer ranks the falls on a scale of (1-10) and was a good distance of about 5-6 miles. The book also warned that the trail was not marked well and had many water crossings but that did not deter me! So one afternoon with my sisterand nephew we drove up highway 411 through Elijay and to CCC Camp Road just like our GPS told us to. The GPS took us up some sketchy mountain road (that my sister’s Scion XB was not designed to traverse). We passed a small parking lot for Bear Creek Falls but that wasn’t our destination so we passed it by until we reached the top of the mountain and our incredibly useful GPS told us we had arrived despite there being zero trailheads on this small gravel road. We kept driving for a few more minutes to find a Trailhead with about 2000 “Bears are active in this area” posters. We parked and figured this must be our stop. I strapped my 18 month old nephew to my back and we headed down the trail. It was almost completely downhill the entire way and we saw dozens of millipedes on the trail but no bears. We hiked about a mile or so till we made it to a small open area that looked like a good spot for camping and that is where we gave in to the fact that this wasn’t our trail so we turned around and went back. A mile downhill with a kid on your back isn’t too difficult but a mile uphill makes you realize how much of a lard ball your nephew is or perhaps how weak you are. Once we reached the top we returned to where our GPS thought the trailhead was and we once again found no trails. We decided to give up on Emery Creek Falls for the day and we went and played in Bear Creek Falls which my nephew quite enjoyed because what kid doesn’t love splashing everyone with water and getting as dirty as possible for the car ride home. After a good thirty minutes of splishing and splashing we headed off to get food at Chick-Fil-A and head on home. Despite having a fun time I still felt like I needed to discover the real Emery Creek Falls so I made plans soon after that to go with my Grand Canyon hiking partner AKA. my dad.
Tune in next time for the excited second part of the Emery Creek Chronicles where our hiking heroes attempt to discover the real Emery Creek Falls!!!