- Eric Champlin For the AJC
North of Atlanta, Georgia's terrain rolls, tumbles and climbs over the southern stretches of the Appalachian Mountains. Streams, creeks and rivers wind through the mountainous landscape, falling over rocky cliffs to create some of this state's most popular hiking destinations: waterfalls.
Many of Georgia's most beautiful waterfalls are located on short, relatively easy trails that are great for beginning hikers. Explore these five easy waterfall hikes any time of the year, and don't forget to visit again in the fall-- they're doubly beautiful once autumn's leaves start to change.
Hike from the beautiful stream-filled valley at Warwoman Dell to a tall, multi-tiered waterfall. You'll stretch your legs on an almost constant climb to the falls. The waterfall's beauty is worth the effort, though – and the hike is a short one, at less than a third of a mile. After reveling in the waterfall's beauty, picnic in Warwoman Dell's shaded pavilions, then explore the valley's history, lush forest and several smaller waterfalls on an easy one mile trail.
Hike to this impressive waterfall with a memorable name near the shore of Lake Rabun. (It's not small, or funny, but it sure is beautiful.) You'll hike a quarter mile through a shady creek valley and past smaller waterfalls to the trail's main attraction: the 100-foot-tall, stair-stepped Minnehaha Falls. Enjoy a snack and relax at the base of the falls, or after the hike, grab lunch in nearby Lakemont at Louie's on the Lake.
Amicalola Falls drops an astonishing 729 feet from a towering cliff, and the sight is spectacular. One of the most popular hikes to Amicalola Falls follows a two mile loop and conquers hundreds of stairs-- but there's an easier way to catch sight of the immense waterfall. Walk the park's West Ridge Falls Access Trail for a paved shortcut to the waterfall, and venture across the bridge spanning Amicalola Falls for a misty, up-close view.
The shortest route to this stunning double waterfall is paved, less than one mile and stroller-friendly. Hike the Anna Ruby Falls Trail near Helen, trailing beside a tumbling creek in a lush, green valley. At the end of the trail, you'll see this double waterfall as York Creek and Curtis Creek tumble in synchronicity from a tall, rocky bluff.
Once you've conquered the other trails on this list, you'll be ready for the longest: the Desoto Falls Trail spans two miles. Hike this trail north of Dahlonega to explore this pair of waterfalls named for explorer Hernando de Soto. A piece of metal armor was found at the falls and is thought to be an artifact from the explorer's Georgia expedition in the 1500s.
Want to stay in town and still get your waterfall fix? Check out these beginner-friendly waterfall hikes in Atlanta.