16 Waterfalls Within an Hour of Blue Ridge

An ideal place to unwind in nature Blue Ridge, Georgia, about 90 minutes north of Atlanta via I-575, greets visitors with a breath of clean mountain air and offers an easy escape with waterfalls to chase and hikes to explore.

Whether traveling here for a daytrip or planning an overnight stay, these 16 waterfalls provide opportunity to socially distance while enjoying nature’s showstoppers. Use this self-guided map, complete with GPS coordinates and other helpful details to assist with your adventure.  

Fall Branch Falls: A double waterfall with mountain laurel and rhododendron growing along the trail and creek bank. The hike to the falls is about 30 minutes round trip. 

Amicalola Falls and Trails: About 21 miles from Ellijay via Highway 52 is a spectacular 729-foot falls, the tallest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River. Also, a strenuous 8.5-mile approach trail leads from the park to Springer Mountain, the start of the famous Appalachian Trail. There is an optional trail that provides stroller and wheelchair access to this trail. Inquire at gate. 

Long Creek Falls: The trail begins on the north side of the road (on the left) and starts as a gradual hike alongside Long Creek. There are three short ascents before reaching the blue blazed side trail to the falls at 1.1 miles.

Toccoa River, Swinging Bridge: This is a beautiful area with huge old growth hemlocks, whitewater and shoals on the Toccoa River. A popular destination for day-hikers, Benton MacKaye Trail through hikers and paddlers making the journey down the Toccoa River Canoe Trail. Plan on a weekday visit to avoid crowds. The swinging bridge over the Toccoa River is a 260-foot-long bridge and the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi River. 

Sea Creek Falls: A 30-foot waterfall with a shallow pool at the bottom, about one hour from Blue Ridge. 

Vogel State Park: One of Georgia’s prettiest state parks, including scenic Lake Trahlyta, which has a swimming beach with paddle boats. A short hiking trail along the lake leads you to an observation deck to view the falls. Directly below Lake Trahlyta is a stepping-stone waterfall

Helton Creek Falls: There are two falls on Helton Creek near Blairsville. A short trail descends to the first waterfall then climbs to the second larger waterfall. Please be careful–the rocks are slippery! 

Desoto Falls: There are five beautiful waterfalls along the three-mile section of the DeSoto Falls Trail. Trail begins at the bridge in the lower loop of DeSoto Falls Recreation Area

Ravens Cliffs Falls: A nearly five-mile hike alongside a flowing river rewards with views of gorgeous falls cleaving through a cliff. 

Dukes Creek Falls: A majestic waterfall that drops 150 feet down a sheer granite canyon into Dukes Creek. Scenic beauty and gold panning opportunities. Trailhead for this 1.25-mile trail is at the parking lot. Round trip is 2.5 miles. 

Anna Ruby Falls: About 1.25 hours from Blue Ridge. This 0.4-mile paved foot trail takes you along the banks of Smith Creek from the visitor center to the two observation decks near the base of the twin waterfalls. 

High Shoals Falls: About an hour from Blue Ridge. A succession of five waterfalls grace this 170-acre scenic area. These falls have an estimated total vertical drop of 300 feet. The High Shoals Trail (1.2 miles) follows along High Shoals Creek to observation decks beside two of the five streams cascading in the High Shoals Scenic Area. 

Benton Falls: Located on the Benton Falls Trail in the Overhill country of southeastern Tennessee. The trail is 1.5 miles to the falls.

Turtletown Falls:  Turtletown Creek Trail follows Turtletown creek and loops back to Shinbone Ridge. Beautiful views emerge of the Hiwassee River below along with overlooks of two major waterfalls, Turtletown Falls and Lower Turtletown Falls.

Ocoee River Rapids: Home to the 1996 Olympic whitewater events, this is world-class water. A great place to bring a picnic, do advanced paddling, hike and bike. In addition to whitewater sports, the Ocoee Whitewater Center has a one-mile hiking trail which crosses a 330-foot suspension bridge and circles the center. The trail is entirely accessible for those who are physically challenged. There are an additional 20 miles of trails for hikers and mountain bikers. 

Jacks River Falls: Located in the Cohutta Wilderness Area on the Jacks River, this beautiful waterfall is the most visited site in the Cohutta and is reached by a 4.5-mile trail through rugged wilderness. It is highly recommended to get the USFS map of the Cohutta Wilderness and carry the 10 essentials.

Please use caution when hiking around waterfalls. Here is a great message from the Chattahoochee-Oconee National forest.

If you go

Expand your Blue Ridge outdoor experience with scenic driving tours and water adventure. Stay for a weekend or week-long Blue Ridge getaway. For accommodations complete with kitchens, choices include lodges with stunning mountain views, creek-side hideaways, riverfront fishing lodges, cabins on the lake, cozy cabins, hotels and resorts–which range in price from $100 to $1,000 per night. Visit www.BlueRidgeMountains.com/where-to-stay for a complete listing.

About the Author

Katie Reeder
LRC Media

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