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
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 slight elevation dive and meander into a mixed hardwood, coniferous and rhododendron-filled forest.
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 downward 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.
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Trails and routes may change – so please refer to official trail maps for the latest route.
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Free parking is available at the Helton Creek Falls trailhead. Trailhead access is via a gravel Forest Service road.
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