North Georgia waterfalls: our top 10 favorite hikes

Waterfalls in Georgia: Our Top 10 Favorite Hikes

Hike to our favorite waterfalls in Georgia on these great hikes to the state's most beautiful, cascading, spilling falls. And don't forget a picnic!

Beautiful, enchanting, serene.

It’s amazing that the simple fall of water from rock stirs up so much beauty and emotion. Georgia waterfalls are plentiful, spilling from the rolling North Georgia mountains on meandering streams, creeks, and rivers. Though they range in size, from the towering, thundering falls of Amicalola and Panther Creek, to the smaller cascades at Sweetwater Creek, a great waterfall hike just can’t be beat.

These are our favorite hikes and backpacking adventures to our favorite Georgia falls, from short, family-friendly hikes to challenging, remote adventures in the Cohutta Wilderness. Hike one, hike them all, or plan the ultimate North Georgia waterfall road trip for an epic, falls-filled adventure!

Hike North Georgia's top 10 best waterfall hikes

REMINDER: Slippery rocks and fast moving water can be extremely dangerous! Do not climb, stand above, swim near, or jump from any waterfall. See more water safety tips.

More Georgia waterfall adventures

For a great, single-day road trip, check out our North Georgia waterfall road trip to hike to four falls at Lake Burton & Lake Rabun on a one-day hiking adventure. Already crossed off our top ten from your bucket list? We’ve featured more than 30 of our favorite hikes to the most beautiful falls in Georgia, complete with maps, photos, trail info and driving directions: check out our full list of hikes to Georgia falls. Looking for a shorter, family-friendly hike? Don’t miss our favorite waterfall hikes under two miles. Or venture northbound! Plan a short road trip across the Georgia border to explore our top 10 favorite waterfall hikes in North Carolina.

 
Hike the Raven Cliff Falls Trail near Helen

Raven Cliff Falls Trail
4.9 miles

Hike through a beautiful, lush stream valley north of Helen, Ga, passing small, spilling cascades throughout the hike. The trail’s main attraction is at the end, where a cascading creek splits an enormous cliff in two.
VIEW TRAIL PHOTOS, INFO & MAPS

Hike to Amicalola Falls, Georgia's tallest waterfall

Amicalola Falls Loop
2.1 miles

This popular trail is often crowded. But is it worth it? You bet. Hike the popular Amicalola Falls loop to Georgia’s tallest waterfall. Beat the crowd by hitting the trail on weekdays, just after sunrise.
VIEW TRAIL PHOTOS, INFO & MAPS

Hike to Jacks River Falls in the Cohutta Wilderness

Jacks River Falls
9 miles

Hike the Beech Bottom Trail and Jacks River Trail to the roaring, rocky Jacks River Falls deep in the Cohutta Wilderness. The Beech Bottom Trail is the most popular (and easiest) access to Jacks River Falls.
VIEW TRAIL PHOTOS, INFO & MAPS

Hike to Long Creek Falls on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia

Long Creek Falls on the Appalachian Trail
2 miles

Hike the beautiful hemlock and rhododendron-filled Three Forks valley on the Appalachian Trail to the 50-foot tall cascades of Long Creek Falls.
VIEW TRAIL PHOTOS, INFO & MAPS

Hike to Panther Creek Falls

Panther Creek Falls Trail
7 miles

Hike to one of North Georgia’s most popular waterfalls on the moderately difficult Panther Creek Trail. Or backpack to one of the trail’s many campsites for an overnight adventure under the stars.
VIEW TRAIL PHOTOS, INFO & MAPS

Hike the Emery Creek Trail to the beautiful Emery Creek Falls

Emery Creek Falls Trail
6.2 miles

Hike to the secluded falls on the Emery Creek Trail on this water-filled, moderately difficult hike. A great summer hike, the trail splashes through 20 creek crossings on the trek to the upper and lower Emery Creek Falls.
VIEW TRAIL PHOTOS, INFO & MAPS

Hike the High Shoals Falls Trail to double waterfalls near Vogel State Park

High Shoals Falls Trail
2.7 miles

Hike to two stunning North Georgia waterfalls, Blue Hole Falls and High Shoals Falls, through a lush forest near Vogel State Park.
VIEW TRAIL PHOTOS, INFO & MAPS

Hike the Cloudland Canyon Waterfalls Trail to two exceptionally beautiful falls inside the canyon

Cloudland Canyon Waterfalls Trail
2 miles

Hike to two stunning falls in northwest Georgia, Cherokee Falls and Hemlock Falls, on this stair-filled trail to Cloudland Canyon’s floor. Up for a longer challenge? Extend the hike to see more spilling cascades on the Sitton Gulch Trail.
VIEW TRAIL PHOTOS, INFO & MAPS

Hike to one of Georgia's most beautiful cascades at Minnehaha Falls

Minnehaha Falls
.4 miles

Hike to Minnehaha Falls, one of Georgia’s most popular short-distance waterfall hikes. Set in a valley off the shore of Lake Rabun, Minnehaha Falls spills from a tall cliff, cascading over a stair-stepped rock outcrop in sheets of whitewater. It’s one of the shortest (and most kid-friendly) hikes in this list, but the falls are some of the most spectacular.
VIEW TRAIL PHOTOS, INFO & MAPS

Hike the Tallulah Gorge Hurricane Falls Trail

Tallulah Gorge Hurricane Falls Trail
2 miles

It’s a tough hike, but oh-so-worth-it! Hike from the towering, 1000-foot walls of Tallulah Gorge to Hurricane Falls deep within its depths. The popular trail crosses a swing bridge spanning the Tallulah River for views of the rushing cascade.
VIEW TRAIL PHOTOS, INFO & MAPS

BONUS HIKES

Here’s a few more of our all-time Georgia favorites:

Hike the DeSoto Falls Trail near Helen, Georgia

DeSoto Falls Trail
2.2 miles

This hike packs a lot of punch in a short distance, hiking through a mossy, shady, creek-filled forest to the upper and lower cascades at DeSoto Falls. A plate of armor, thought to be a relic from DeSoto’s exploration in the Southeast, was found near one of the falls.
VIEW TRAIL PHOTOS, INFO & MAPS

Hike the Sliding Rock trail at Tallulah Gorge to a swimming hole and rock slide

Tallulah Gorge Sliding Rock Trail
3.4 miles

It’s a tough hike, but fully worth it: the Sliding Rock Trail scrambles to the floor of Tallulah Gorge. The payoff? An enormous rock slide and deep, crystal-clear swimming hole that just beg for some summertime fun. It’s the only swimming area in the gorge at Tallulah Gorge State Park, and requires a permit – so get there early!
VIEW TRAIL PHOTOS, INFO & MAPS

What to Pack Hiking? Our hiking gear lists feature our favorite, trail-tested gear

What to pack? / our fave hiking gear

Ready to hit the trail, but wondering what to pack?

Our gear lists feature our favorite, trail-tested hiking gear for day hikes on local trails and in the Georgia backcountry.
HIKING GEAR LIST: LOCAL HIKES
HIKING GEAR LIST: BACKCOUNTRY HIKES

Waterfalls: when to hike?

Waterfalls make a great hiking destination in any of Georgia’s seasons. Autumn is our favorite, when fall leaf color frames the forest in a spectrum of vibrant red, green, yellow and orange. Spring rainfall turns mere trickles into gushing cascades framed by wildflowers and spring-green leaves. Summer mountain breezes catch a waterfall’s mist, providing cool mid-hike refreshment in Georgia’s summer heat. And chilly winter temperatures offer the chance to catch icicles hanging from the crest of the falls – an uncommon sight in our state’s temperate climate.

Waterfall photography

Love to snap photos of falls – but never get a great shot? Get long, wispy, white, blurry strings of whitewater in your waterfall photos by increasing the exposure time.

Grab your DSLR, mirrorless camera or point-and-shoot with exposure controls and hit the trail. Mount your camera on a lightweight but sturdy hiking tripod. (A long exposure will blur the fall’s movement – but you’ll want to keep the other landscape details sharp.) Frame the image, switch to aperture priority mode, and then set a small aperture (f/16, f/22 or smaller) and a low ISO (100). This will force your camera into a long exposure, slowing the water’s motion to a blur. Cloudy days, shooting at dawn or dusk, or adding a polarizing filter or neutral density filter to your lens will further increase the exposure time, increasing the cascade’s blurry water effect.

Want more tips on shooting waterfalls? Check out this photography guide for more info.

Hike to Emery Creek Falls near Blue Ridge, GA

Hiking safety

A recent rainfall doesn’t always offer the best time to hit the trail. High water volume from a heavy rain can turn a tranquil waterfall into a roaring, tumultuous, muddy – and potentially dangerous – overflow. And don’t hike or climb on – or near – the falls. A waterfall’s slippery rock surface and sharp drop are dangerous. Falls can be fatal.

And don’t drink the water! As fresh and as refreshing as the water may look, North Georgia streams may contain bacteria and parasites. Don’t drink the water without safely treating it first – get more info on water filters and drinking water treatment in the backcountry.

And please preserve North Georgia’s natural beauty. Remember to pack out everything you’ve packed in, and leave no trace on the trail.

Eric Champlin is a writer and photographer who loves to hike, run, backpack, kayak and cycle the southeast. He’s the editor and founder of Atlanta Trails and Asheville Trails, online magazines that cover the South’s best outdoor adventures. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s scenic beauty.