Hike a scenic stretch of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia to the beautiful Long Creek Falls, and explore the lush, waterfall-filled Three Forks valley.
LOCATION:Appalachian Trail near Ellijay, Georgia
PACK:our Osprey day pack and our hiking gear list
OFFICIAL MAP: Appalachian Trail, Trails Illustrated Map (find it at Trailful Outdoor Co.)
The Appalachian Trail travels through the Three Forks creek valley in the Chattahoochee National Forest, four miles from its Georgia beginning on Springer Mountain. At Three Forks, this two-mile out-and-back hike explores one of the most beautiful stretches of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, exploring a lush valley on the way to Long Creek Falls. The waterfall, one of the few on the southern stretch of the AT, is a beautiful, rushing cascade that flows under a forest canopy of hemlock, tulip poplar, and rhododendron.
Three boulder and waterfall-filled trout streams converge to form Noontootla Creek at Three Forks, lending to the valley’s name. The valley is beautiful, filled with steep cliffs, wildlife, wildflowers and blankets of vibrant green moss – and is one of the most popular North Georgia areas for hiking, backpacking, fishing and camping.
Long Creek Falls: Appalachian Trail from Three Forks
The adventure departs from a trailhead on Forest Road 58 (view maps and driving directions), following the Appalachian Trail northeast. Long Creek flows parallel to the AT on the trail’s left, running clear and broad over a colorfully-graveled creek bed. The hike follows two iconic, long-distance hiking trails: the white rectangle-blazed Appalachian Trail has converged with the white diamond-blazed Benton MacKaye Trail – and both blazes mark the trail to the waterfall.
The trail climbs elevation, rising above the creek’s banks. Side trails depart on the trail’s left, leading to a series of small, tumbling waterfalls on Long Creek.
At .8 mile, the hike meets a signed intersection: a blue-blazed trail leads north to Long Creek Falls, the Benton MacKaye Trail departs northwest, and the Appalachian Trail continues its epic, 2200+ mile hike north to Maine.
This hike follows the blue-blazed trail, reaching the double-tiered waterfall at just under 1 mile. The stunningly beautiful waterfall tumbles over 50 feet, cascading twice over the lower and upper waterfalls before tumbling into a deep, calm, blue pool below. Hemlock trees soar high into the sky above the waterfall, and dark green rhododendrons frame the creek’s cascade as it drops from the sharp, sheer rock cliff. Large strewn boulders and rock outcrops provide a shaded resting spot for viewing the waterfall.
This is one of our all-time favorite spots in Georgia: the waterfall is simply beautiful, and the rhododendron-choked valley is lush in every season. Departing the waterfall, the hike retraces the blue-blazed side trail and the Appalachian Trail to the FR 58 trailhead and completing the adventure at just under 2 miles.
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 Three Forks hiking adventures
Up for a longer hike? From Long Creek Falls, the Appalachian Trail hikes eastbound, visiting a rustic, centuries-old cemetery before hiking to the Hawk Mountain Shelter. Get more info, photos, and maps in our Appalachian Trail from Three Forks to the Hawk Mountain Shelter trail review. And departing from the opposite side of FR 58 is one of our favorite hikes in the South, the 8.6-mile Three Forks to Springer Mountain hike on the Appalachian Trail, visiting the southernmost end of the AT in Georgia.
In the area, and up for chasing some more cascades? Check out our favorite hikes to waterfalls near Blue Ridge, Georgia, featuring some truly outstanding falls within forty miles of one of our favorite mountain towns in Georgia.
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 Georgia Appalachian Trail Club. 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 trailhead. Note: Trailhead access is via a gravel Forest Service Road.
34.663850, -84.183967 // N34 39.831 W84 11.038