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7 waterfalls about an hour from Gainesville
Amicalola Falls.jpg

Transform your outdoor hike into something grander and awe-inspiring by visiting one of Northeast Georgia’s waterfalls. 

These cascading features are all about an hour’s drive from Gainesville. 

Amicalola Falls

If you’re a waterfall chaser, you’ve most likely already visited this one. But, for those who haven’t seen what is considered one of the seven natural wonders of Georgia, this beauty is worth the trip. As the highest waterfall in the state, people flock to Amicalola Falls each year to gaze at its 729 feet of flowing wonder. The Cherokee name of the natural feature translates to "tumbling waters." 

People can take the East Ridge Loop Trail to the crest of Amicalola Falls. This 2-mile round-trip hike is moderate, kid-friendly and a little rocky. Hikers must ascend around 600 stairs to make it to the top of the falls. The trailhead is at the Amicalola Falls State Park visitor center

Where: 418 Amicalola Falls State Park Road, Dawsonville

Hike: 2 miles, round trip

Parking fee: $5

Anna Ruby Falls

Thundering in the heart of Chattahoochee National Forest, Anna Ruby Falls is a majestic site among the cliff face and lush vegetation of the forest. Curtis Creek plummets 153 feet and York Creek 50 feet to form the twin waterfalls. The hike to the waterfall is an easy one at less than a mile of paved and stroller-friendly trail. 

Where: 3455 Anna Ruby Falls Road, Helen

Hike: Less than a mile, round trip

Parking fee: $5

DeSoto Falls

Visitors can hike the 2-mile round-trip DeSoto Falls Trail near Helen to find a pair of waterfalls shaded by a forest. The trek is fairly easy and kid-friendly. The hike begins in a paid parking area. The waterfalls’ names were inspired from a legend that claims a piece of armor was found near the falls. According to the story, the armor belonged to Hernando DeSoto or one of his fellow explorers who were alive in the mid-1500s. 

Where: 18365 U.S. Highway 129, Cleveland

Hike: 2 miles, round trip

Parking fee: $3

Dicks Creek Falls in Lumpkin County
Dicks Creek Falls

Located north of Dahlonega in Lumpkin County, Dicks Creek Falls is just off the dirt road that follows along the creek. There’s a parking lot on the right after a couple of miles and falls to the left. There’s little to no hike to speak of, but this is a popular spot in the summer for swimmers, some who jump from the cliff into the water. Visitors should be careful when swimming in the fast-flowing waters. 

Where: North of Dahlonega on Mount Pisgah Church Road

Directions: Travel north on U.S. Highway 19 and take a left at Mount Pisgah Church Road, which is a half mile before Turner’s Corner, where 19 meets U.S. Highway 129. You’ll follow the road, which eventually turns to gravel, for more than 2 miles. 

Hike: No hiking required

Parking fee: Free

Dukes Creek Falls

Helen’s Smithgall Woods State Park is home to Dukes Creek Falls. People can gaze at the multi-tiered falls, which drop 150 feet, on one of the wooden viewing platforms.

To get to the falls, people can take a 2-mile, round-trip hike along the Dukes Creek Falls Trail. This moderate, kid-friendly trek takes people to the convergence of Davis Creek and Dukes Creek. 

Where: Richard B Russell Scenic Highway, Helen

Hike: 2 miles, round trip

Parking fee: $4

Raven Cliff Falls 1.jpg
Raven Cliff Falls can be found a few miles west of Helen. Photo courtesy Drew Podo.
Raven Cliff Falls 

This 40-foot waterfall cascades from the towering cliff face into a picturesque pool tucked into the hillside. The 4.9-mile, round-trip hike to the flowing feature is shady and filled with lush ferns, wildflowers and overhanging green vegetation. The trek to the falls is somewhat strenuous with roots, rocks and narrow beams for walking over streams. Wear shoes with decent traction to prevent slipping. This hike may be difficult for small children inexperienced with hiking. 

Where: 3000 Richard B Russell Scenic Highway, Helen

Hike: 4.9 miles, round trip

Parking fee: $5

High Shoals Falls is located at the bottom of a trail between Helen and Hiawassee. - photo by Shannon Casas
High Shoals Falls

A short trip north of Helen will bring you to the base of this waterfall, a pool surrounded by rocks beneath the viewing platform. The High Shoals Fall trail, clocking in at just over two miles, also passes by Blue Hole Falls. This hike is laden with exposed roots, so make sure to wear hiking shoes with good ankle support. The road to the trailhead requires fording a shallow stream. 

Where: 1333 Indian Grave Gap Road, Hiawassee 

Hike: 2.4 miles, round trip

Parking fee: Free