Hike the Raven Cliff Falls Trail through a waterfall-filled valley to one of Georgia’s most popular and beautiful waterfalls.
LOCATION:Chattahoochee National Forest near Helen, Georgia
OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 778 Trails Illustrated Map
Shaded by towering hardwoods, the Raven Cliff Wilderness is home to a tumbling trout steam bordered by vibrant green patches of moss and abundant wildflowers. And packed with beautiful, cascading waterfalls, the Raven Cliff Falls Trail is one of the most beautiful (and most popular) hiking trails in North Georgia.
Hike this trail to a gorgeous waterfall that cascades through a 40-foot-tall, towering cliff, slicing the enormous rock outcrop in half. And catch wildflower and waterfall-filled beauty throughout the trail’s 2.5 miles: the hike follows a beautiful, rushing trout stream in a shady, moss-filled forest.
Raven Cliff Falls Trail: the hike
The hike climbs from a gravel trailhead near Helen, GA (view maps and driving directions), grabbing elevation along a short incline and following Dodd Creek upstream. The trail levels at .25 mile before descending toward the creek.
A side trail departs trail right toward a campsite on the stream’s sharply meandering bend. Downhill, there’s a campsite, and a small swimming hole that’s a favorite of our water-loving labradors. The trail crosses the creek via a large wooden bridge before climbing the right creek bank, hiking through a mossy forest and crossing several small stream tributaries.
Many steeply-pitched side paths depart on the trail’s left side, leading to multi-tiered waterfalls cascading beneath the forest canopy. Wildflowers line the creek’s banks, stretching to catch sunlight in the mossy, green, lush forest.
The sound of rushing water echoes through the valley as the hike approaches an enormous, towering, blocky cliff at two miles. The lower falls become suddenly visible as the trail climbs elevation, turning northwest to approach the massive cliff.
The base of the cliff reveals an enormous fracture through the towering granite slab, where the creek flows deep within the sharply-angled cliff walls. Raven Cliff Falls spills, tumbles and cascades through the cliff, feeding the cliff’s moss-lined walls and the overhanging lush, green vegetation.
Departing from the base of the towering waterfall, the hike retraces its outbound steps, following Dodd Creek downstream to return to the trailhead. The hike completes at just under 5 miles, reaching the trailhead and parking area and completing the adventure.
Nearby waterfall hikes
In the area with daylight – and energy – to burn? Catch the nearby beautiful waterfalls at Dukes Creek Falls, a short one mile, paved hike just south of the Raven Cliff Falls trailhead on GA 348.
Raven Cliff Falls camping
This trail is one of North Georgia’s most popular camping destinations. Trailhead campsites offer fantastic stream-side camping just steps from the car, and a fantastic base camp for hiking the Raven Cliff Falls Trail during the day. The trail is also dotted with many backpacking campsites on the creek’s level banks, offering a little more solitude for campers willing to backpack it in.
Black bears frequent this wilderness area. Keep all food items and fragrant cosmetics out of reach in a bear canister: many years ago, we lost our camp stove, food and cookware to a trio of bears in a traditionally-hung bear bag along this trail.
Campsites are free and first-come, first-claimed. Pack out everything you pack in: this is one of Georgia’s most beautiful Wilderness areas, so please remember to pack out everything you pack in and leave no trace. Slippery rocks and fast moving water can be extremely dangerous! Please don’t climb, stand on, swim near, or jump from any waterfall.
After the adventure
This ultra-scenic section of Georgia is one of our favorite areas for outdoor adventures – and it’s worthy of much more than just one day of exploring. If you’re looking for a great place to stay near a ton of our local favorite hikes, check out The Ridges Resort on Lake Chatuge. The resort is just over a half hour north in the mountain town of Hiawassee, and it’s a favorite spot to relax and unwind in the North Georgia Mountains.
The Ridges Resort offers lakeside rooms and suites with comfy beds and private balconies, and for larger groups, multi-bedroom villas offer a peaceful escape with friends and family. The resort’s restaurant, The Oaks Lakeside Kitchen, dishes delicious Southern cuisine with outstanding waterside views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. And the outdoor adventures continue at The Ridges! The resort offers plenty of activities and entertainment options for the whole family. Try fishing from the Lodge Fishing Pier, take Flyboarding lessons at Mountain Wake Cable Park, or chill out with lawn games and nightly s’mores by the fire. And nothing beats the view of a star-filled sky twinkling over the rippling waters of Lake Chatuge.
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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!
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$5 (cash only) per day, available at the Raven Cliff trailhead.
34.709969,-83.788837 // N34 42.598 W83 47.330