Hike the Benton MacKaye Trail a short half mile, roundtrip, exploring the cascading Fall Branch Falls waterfall and a shady, mossy forest near Blue Ridge.

georgia hiking trails: 0-2 miles .5 miles
(round trip)
georgia hiking trails: easydifficulty:
easy
georgia hiking trails: dog-friendly Dog-
friendly

LOCATION:Chattahoochee National Forest near Blue Ridge, Georgia

GEAR: Osprey Stratos 24 Backpack, our hiking gear list and Canon 6D Camera

WEAR: Our ultra-soft Atlanta Trails shirts and our favorite outdoor apparel

OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 777 Trails Illustrated Map

This short, beginner-friendly adventure on the Benton MacKaye Trail explores a scenic, lush forest and visits one of Georgia’s most beautiful waterfalls. While the hike to Fall Branch Falls is nearly all uphill, and mildly challenging, it’s well worth the effort: the waterfall’s double cascades are simply beautiful, framed in gnarly-branched rhododendron and mossy, blocky rocks. It’s one of the top easy hikes near Blue Ridge, thanks to its relatively short distance and wonderfully scenic beauty. Mossy forest, a clear mountain trout stream, and abundant sweet-smelling Georgia forest air are all highlights on this great hike, not to mention the beautiful waterfall.

Hike to Fall Branch Falls, a family and kid-friendly hike near Blue Ridge on the Benton MacKaye Trail

The Benton MacKaye Trail (BMT) is a 300+ mile long-distance trail that hikes from the Appalachian Trail’s southern start at Springer Mountain to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The BMT is popular with backpackers, offering great trailside camping and great views. This half-mile hike follows a short, mild stretch of the BMT, and makes a great intro to the trail that’s especially kid-friendly.

Fall Branch Falls: the hike

The hike departs a trailhead off the gravel-paved Stanley Creek Road (view maps and driving directions). The trailhead is well-marked with a sign that’s nestled between two lichen-covered boulders. To begin the hike, look for the sign, and the BMT’s signature white diamond-shaped trail blazes.

The hike follows the BMT uphill, climbing alongside Fall Branch Creek. Beyond the trailhead, Fall Branch flows into Stanley Creek, a tributary of the Toccoa River (the same river famous for the Toccoa River swinging bridge, another short, popular and scenic hike on the BMT near Blue Ridge). The hike follows the creek upstream, catching sight of several small waterfalls as it tumbles over its rocky creek bed. Leathery-leafed rhododendron line the creek’s banks, their blue-green leaves contrasting with the rich, reddish-brown forest soil.

Hike the Benton MacKaye Trail through a lush, mossy forest near Blue Ridge, GA, to the tumbling waterfall at Fall Branch Falls

The hike continues its climb, following the BMT’s white diamond blazes uphill. Several large-trunked trees flank the trail’s sides, climbing tall into the forest canopy and shading the forest floor. Soft green moss thrives in this shady, cool, damp environment.

The waterfall’s roar becomes increasingly louder as the trail crests near Fall Branch Falls. A short side trail leads downhill to the falls, where a wooden observation deck offers great views of this multi-tiered waterfall. Moss, fern and rhododendron cling to the steep-sided cliff, basking in the waterfall’s cool mist.

The area below the falls makes a great place for a mid-hike picnic or water break, with the ultra-scenic backdrop of the tumbling waterfall and the wonderfully tranquil sound of falling water. After soaking in the beauty, this hike retraces its outbound steps on the Benton MacKaye Trail, descending to the trailhead and finishing the adventure at just over .5 mile.

Fall Branch Falls: hiking the Benton MacKaye Trail near Blue Ridge, GA

Nearby adventures

In the area with daylight and energy to spare? Don’t miss the hike over the Toccoa River swinging bridge, a nearby half-mile adventure on the BMT. Or take a short hike on an ultra-scenic stretch of the Appalachian Trail, hiking from the lush, rhododendron-filled creek valley at Three Forks to the tumbling cascades of Long Creek Falls. And check out more of our favorite hikes near Blue Ridge for more outdoor adventures, and our favorite things to do in Blue Ridge, featuring our favorite places to eat, stay, and play in this top North Georgia mountain destination.

Note: slippery rocks and fast moving water can be extremely dangerous! Please don’t climb, stand on, swim near, or jump from any waterfall.


Fall Branch Falls on the Benton MacKaye Trail Map, Directions & Details

This map is not a substitute for official trail maps or topographic maps.

Driving Directions



Parking

Free parking is available at the USFS trailhead. Trailhead access is via gravel roads.


GPS Coordinates

34.784000, -84.302167     //     N34 47.040 W84 18.130

Elevation Profile

Fall Branch Falls on the Benton MacKaye Trail: Elevation Profile
 
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Eric Champlin
Author

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, Asheville Trails, and Trailful, digital magazines that highlight the South’s best outdoor adventures and top Southern-worthy outdoor gear. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.