Atlanta TrailsbyTrailful Outdoor Co

Hike to High Shoals Falls and Blue Hole Falls, two stunning waterfalls set in a lush, green forest near Helen, Georgia.

georgia hiking trails: 2-4 miles 2.4 miles
(round trip)
? Your mileage may vary! Accuracy of your GPS device, weather conditions, and stops along your route will affect your own recorded distance.
georgia hiking trails: moderaterelatively
moderate
?Our difficulty estimate, based on distance, terrain, elevation change, & ease of wayfinding. May vary daily due to weather, trail reroutes, downed trees, etc.
georgia hiking trails: dog-friendly Dog-
friendly
?Leashed dogs are allowed on this trail. We’ve loved hiking this route with our trail-loving Labrador Retrievers! Check out more of our favorite dog-friendly trails in Georgia for a great hike with your pup.

LOCATION:just south of Hiawassee, GA

PACK:our Osprey day pack and our hiking gear list

Two of Georgia’s most beautiful waterfalls on one single trail. And just over two miles hike, round trip! The hike to Blue Hole Falls and High Shoals Falls is one extraordinary adventure.

Hike the High Shoals Falls Trail to Blue Hole Falls, one of North Georgia's most beautiful waterfalls

This hike follows the High Shoals Falls Trail through a lush, mossy creek valley to one of Georgia’s most beautiful waterfalls. And on the way, the hike passes some prime backpacking campsites, some of our favorites in North Georgia. And it visits the smaller yet equally beautiful Blue Hole Falls, a single-drop waterfall that cascades into a deep, turquoise pool.

With abundant forest beauty and two gorgeous waterfalls, this trail long been one of our favorite waterfall hikes in Georgia.

Hike to High Shoals Falls and Blue Hole Falls, two stunning waterfalls set in a lush, green forest near Helen, Georgia. #hiking #trailrunning #camping #backpacking #atlanta #georgia #travel #outdoors #adventure

NOTE: the bridge spanning High Shoals Creek, located a half-mile into this hike, suffered recent irreparable storm damage. If you go, plan on crossing the creek via stepping stones – or getting your feet wet!

High Shoals Falls: the hike

The adventure begins at a trailhead off the graveled Forest Road 283 just south of Hiawassee, Georgia (view maps and driving directions). From the trailhead, the trail begins a steady descent through a forest of towering old-growth trees and gnarly-branched mountain laurel. The trail hangs a hard right at just under a quarter-mile, meandering through wide switchbacks and following occasional green trail blazes.

The sound of rushing water grows louder as the hike nears High Shoals Creek. The trail reaches the creek’s banks at a half-mile, swinging northbound. The route passes a large campsite before crossing through the creek.

Hike the High Shoals Falls Trail through a beautiful, shady, rhododendron-filled creek valley near Helen, GA

After crossing the creek, the hike passes several more trailside campsites. The trail winds through dense thickets of leathery-leafed rhododendron as it descends to Blue Hole Falls. The pungent scent of galax, a small leafy green plant, fills the air with its onion-like scent.

The trail crosses a small wooden bridge before reaching a side path at just under one mile. The hike turns left, following the side trail and dropping elevation to Blue Hole Falls. Mosses and ferns line the path in shades of vibrant green, a contrast with the red and orange-hued, iron-rich soil and boulders of the creek valley.

Hike the High Shoals Falls Trail through a lush forest to two stunning waterfalls near Helen, GA

A cool, deep blue pool sits below Blue Hole Falls, lending to the waterfall’s name. The creek plummets more than twenty feet over the face of a sheer rock outcrop.

Departing Blue Hole Falls, the hike retraces to the main trail and turns left to continue to High Shoals Falls. At just over one mile, the route turns left to descend to the waterfall through switchbacks and down rustic stone stairs.

Hike the High Shoals Falls Trail to two of Georgia's most beautiful waterfalls, High Shoals Falls and Blue Hole Falls

The roaring sound of falling water amplifies through the valley. The tree canopy opens up to reveal High Shoals Falls at 1.35 miles. The waterfall drops more than fifty feet in a series of cascades, casting mist into the mountain breeze.

Departing the waterfall, the trail retraces its steps to the main trail and follows its outbound steps in reverse. It’s a steady, nearly unrelenting climb to the trailhead, gaining over 500 feet elevation. The hike reaches the trailhead and parking area at 2.4 miles, completing the adventure.

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 hiking adventures near Hiawassee

In the area with daylight – and energy – to burn? Hike the nearby Appalachian Trail to Indian Grave Gap via the Rocky Mountain summit, a challenging hike from Unicoi Gap several miles southon GA 75. Or hike the Appalachian Trail to Tray Mountain, departing from Indian Grave Gap on FR 283 several miles south of the High Shoals trailhead.

AFTER THE ADVENTURE

After soaking up all that waterfall beauty, head into Hiawassee to refuel and recharge at one of our local restaurants or the new brewery in town! Then be sure to stop by our new hiking outfitter shop, Trailful Outdoor Co. and say hello to the Atlanta Trails crew. We stock our favorite adventure-worthy gear that we’ve loved for years, including our favorite gear, tents, sleeping bags, and apparel from Marmot, ENO, Osprey, KUHL, Ruffwear, NEMO, and many more. We also carry a variety of locally made goods and gifts, guide and nature books, local trail info and maps, and a ton of backpacking and hiking gear. We’d love to see you!


 
Leave No Trace: Atlanta Trails, Asheville Trails and Trailful are official Leave No Trace partners

Please Remember

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.

High Shoals Falls Trail Map, Directions & Details

This map shows our approximate route while exploring this trail, but does not replace an official trail map. Please refer to the official trail map for the most current and accurate route.

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!

Driving Directions



Parking

Free parking is available at the USFS High Shoals Falls trailhead. Trailhead access is via a gravel Forest Service Road, and may require a vehicle creek crossing, depending on the route.


GPS Coordinates

34.816467, -83.727150     //     N34 48.988 W83 43.629

Elevation Profile

High Shoals Falls Trail and Blue Hole Falls: Elevation Profile
 
Author

Eric Champlin is a creative director and photographer who loves to explore southeast. He's the co-owner of Trailful Outdoor Co, a locally-owned hiking outfitter shop in Hiawassee in the Georgia mountains near the Appalachian Trail. He’s also the co-founder of Atlanta Trails and Asheville Trails, digital magazines that highlight the South’s best outdoor adventures. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.