Long Creek Falls: Hiking the Appalachian Trail
Hike the Appalachian Trail to the beautiful Long Creek Falls waterfall through the hemlock and rhododendron-filled Three Forks valley.
The Appalachian Trail travels through the Three Forks creek valley in the Chattahoochee National Forest, four miles from its Georgia beginning on Springer Mountain. At Three Forks, this two-mile out-and-back hike explores one of the most beautiful stretches of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, exploring a lush valley on the way to Long Creek Falls. The waterfall, one of the few on the southern stretch of the AT, is a beautiful, rushing cascade that flows under a forest canopy of hemlock, tulip poplar, and rhododendron.
Three boulder and waterfall-filled trout streams converge to form Noontootla Creek at Three Forks, lending to the valley’s name. The valley is beautiful, filled with steep cliffs, wildlife, wildflowers and blankets of vibrant green moss – and is one of the most popular North Georgia areas for hiking, backpacking, fishing and camping.
Appalachian Trail – Three Forks to Long Creek Falls
The Long Creek Falls hike departs FR 58 (view maps and driving directions), following the Appalachian Trail northeast. Long Creek flows parallel to the AT on trail left, running clear and broad over a colorfully-graveled creek bed. The hike follows two iconic, long-distance hiking trails: the white rectangle-blazed Appalachian Trail has converged with the white diamond-blazed Benton MacKaye Trail – and both blazes mark the trail to the waterfall.
The hike climbs elevation, rising above the banks of Long Creek. Side trails depart on the trail’s left, leading to several smaller, rushing waterfalls on Long Creek.
At .8 mile, the hike meets a signed intersection: a blue-blazed trail leads north to Long Creek Falls, the Benton Mackaye Trail departs northwest, and the Appalachian Trail continues its epic, 2200+ mile hike north to Maine.
This hike follows the blue-blazed trail to Long Creek Falls, reaching the double-tiered waterfall at just under 1 mile. Long Creek falls over 50 feet, cascading twice over the lower and upper waterfalls before tumbling into a deep, calm, blue pool below. Hemlock trees soar high into the sky above the waterfall, and dark green rhododendron frame the creek’s cascade as it drops from the sharp, sheer rock cliff. Large strewn boulders and rock outcrops provide a shaded resting spot for viewing the waterfall.
Long Creek Falls is our favorite spot in Georgia: the waterfall’s tranquility is simply beautiful.
The hike departs Long Creek Falls, retracing the blue-blazed side trail and the Appalachian Trail to the FR 58 trailhead and completing the adventure at just under 2 miles. Departing opposite the Long Creek trailhead on FR 58 is one of our favorite Georgia hikes: the 8.6-mile out-and-back hike from Three Forks to Springer Mountain on the Appalachian Trail.
Note: slippery rocks and fast moving water can be extremely dangerous! Please don’t climb, stand on, swim near, or jump from any waterfall.
Extend the hike
Up for a longer hike? Departing Long Creek Falls, the Appalachian Trail hikes eastbound, visiting a rustic, centuries-old cemetery before hiking to the Hawk Mountain Shelter. Get more info, photos, and maps in our Appalachian Trail from Three Forks to the Hawk Mountain Shelter trail review.