Hike to two beautiful waterfalls at Helton Creek Falls on a short, kid-friendly, less-than-one-mile trail near Helen, Georgia.
LOCATION:Chattahoochee National Forest near Helen, Georgia
OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 777 Trails Illustrated Map (find it at Trailful Outdoor Co.)
Helton Creek Falls cascades in a set of two waterfalls, sliding down in tendrils through a beautiful, hemlock-filled creek valley. The trail to these gorgeous waterfalls isn’t a long hike – in fact, the trail’s extremely short distance qualifies it as more of a short walk in the woods. But this double waterfall’s beauty makes it a fantastic, easy day hike for visitors to Helen or nearby Vogel State Park – and a makes it a great hike for families with kids.
These double waterfalls, set in a lush, mossy creek valley, make for a great family-friendly hike – and the drive to the falls on a gravel road makes for a fun adventure as well. And don’t forget a snack or a picnic – this is one of those ultra-beautiful outdoor spots in Georgia that just beg you stay awhile and soak up the beauty.
Helton Creek Falls: the hike
The hike begins at a trailhead just south of Vogel State Park (view maps and driving directions). The trail makes a gradual curve and gentle descent into a forest filled with mixed hardwoods, coniferous trees, and rhododendron.
As the trail descends into the valley, the hike catches through-the-trees views of the upper and lower falls on the tumbling creek. Several side creeks cross under the trail, trickling down into the mossy, rocky valley below.
A short side trail exits to the left, descending via wooden stairs to the lower Helton Creek Falls. The lower waterfall slides down a smooth, angled rock face, spilling into a calm, clear pool of water below.
Departing the lower falls, the hike climbs the side path’s wooden stairs, retracing to the main trail. The forest floor flanking the sides of the creek is lush with life. Mosses and ferns thrive in the sheltered, damp valley – a brilliant green contrast to the fallen old-growth hemlock trees underneath.
The hike reaches the upper waterfall viewing platform at just over .3 mile. The upper falls, the larger of the two waterfalls, cascades over the curved contour of a massive rock outcrop. Boulders and fallen trees line the waterfall’s base, where water collects briefly in a shallow pool before spilling downstream towards the lower falls.
After taking the time to soak up the waterfall’s beauty, the hike departs the upper falls platform, retracing its steps to the trailhead, and completing the adventure at just over a half-mile.
Note: slippery rocks and fast-moving water can be extremely dangerous! Please don’t climb, stand on, swim near, or jump from any waterfall.
More kid-friendly waterfall hikes near Helen
In the Helen area, and up for chasing more waterfalls? Don’t miss the nearby hike to Desoto Falls, another fantastic double waterfall hike just north of Helen. Also nearby, the Dukes Creek Falls Trail hikes two miles (round trip) to a series of tumbling waterfalls on Dukes Creek and Davis Creek. Or hike the paved, stroller-friendly Anna Ruby Falls Trail to a cascading pair of side-by-side waterfalls near Unicoi State Park.
After the adventure
Make a short (and scenic!) drive to Hiawassee to say hello to the Atlanta Trails crew at our new hiking outfitter store, Trailful Outdoor Co. We’ve filled the shop with our favorite hiking gear and apparel, outdoorsy gifts, local area maps and books, and a wall full of info on our favorite nearby hikes and adventures. We stock our favorite brands including KUHL, Osprey, Kelty, BUFF, Darn Tough, and more, and also carry our full line of Atlanta Trails hats, shirts, and stickers. Stop by, we’d love to see you!
Always leave no trace, pack out everything you pack in, and if you see trash, pick it up and pack it out.
Stay on the marked trail, tell someone where you're going, pack safety and wayfinding essentials, and don't rely on a mobile phone to find your way. Please always practice good trail etiquette. And before you go, always check the trailhead kiosk, official maps, and the park or ranger office for notices of changed routes, trail closures, safety information, and restrictions.
Love the trail?
This trail is maintained thanks to the hard work of countless volunteers and donations from supporters of the Chattahoochee National Forest. Please support them by making a donation or joining a volunteer day. Let's work together to keep these fantastic trails maintained and open for use!
Free parking is available at the Helton Creek Falls trailhead. Trailhead access is via a gravel Forest Service road.
34.753167, -83.894233 // N34 45.190 W83 53.654