Hike the Minnehaha Falls Trail, a short, easy, kid-friendly hike on Lake Rabun in North Georgia, to a beautiful, towering, cascading waterfall.
LOCATION:Rabun County near Clayton, Georgia
OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 778 Trails Illustrated Map
Near the banks of Lake Rabun, Falls Creek cascades down into a beautiful forest, forming one of North Georgia’s most popular waterfalls. Minnehaha Falls spills over a cliff in a gorgeous, multi-tiered cascade before continuing downstream to the Lake Rabun shore. The trail is exceptionally short, and an easy one as well. But it’s well worth a visit on a warm spring or summer afternoon to catch views of this outstandingly beautiful waterfall.
The waterfall’s unique name derives from the Dakota (Native American) word for ‘waterfall.’ (No, it doesn’t translate as ‘small laugh’ – but it is often misspelled ‘minihaha.’) It’s also a common place name in Minnesota, and the state has its own Minnehaha Falls: a single-drop, 50-foot waterfall in Minneapolis. The beauty of this taller, multi-tiered North Georgia waterfall, despite the trail’s short length, makes it well worth a visit. It’s especially kid-friendly, too.
Minnehaha Falls Trail: the hike
The hike departs the trailhead, marked with a green diamond and the number 147, located off the unpaved Bear Gap Road near Lakemont, Georgia (view maps and driving directions). The hike ascends a wooden staircase, trekking southwest toward the waterfall.
The hike gently rolls elevation, trekking on a well-worn trail beside Falls Creek. Gnarly-branched rhododendron cover the landscape; their blue-green leaves a contrast to Georgia’s iron-rich, orange-tinged soil. The rhododendron’s thick, leathery leaves are evergreen, making the hike green and color-filled hike in any season. The waterfall quickly becomes audible, thundering down into the creek valley. Several smaller waterfalls form the waterfall’s lower falls, visible from the trail between thickets of dense rhododendron.
The hike reaches Minnehaha Falls at just under .2 mile, entering a clearing below the waterfall. Several enormous, scattered boulders dot the landscape below the falls. The crest of the waterfall towers overhead, Falls Creek spilling from down over sharply angled terraces.
After admiring the falls from a distance, the hike retraces its outbound steps, reaching the Bear Gap Road trailhead at just under .4 mile and 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 North Georgia waterfall hikes
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Limited (and free) parking is available at the USFS trailhead, off the gravel Bear Gap Road on the banks of Lake Rabun.
34.749633, -83.479083 // N34 44.978 W83 28.745