Hike to stunning views at Pinnacle Knob, following the Bartram Trail from Warwoman Dell and visiting a series of beautiful waterfalls along the way.
OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 778 Trails Illustrated Map (find it at Trailful Outdoor Co.)
Rising high above Georgia’s nearby mountain town of Clayton, Pinnacle Knob offers some remarkable vistas from several enormous, sun-drenched rock outcroppings near its summit. The views are dramatic, stretching to Black Rock Mountain on the near horizon, and the southern end of the Smoky Mountains in the far distance.
There are several ways to the summit, thanks to easy access from the nearby Bartram Trail. This route to Pinnacle Knob scores some of the best features of the North Georgia mountains, with both summit views and cascading waterfalls, too. This hike begins at a lush, green cove named Warwoman Dell, following the Bartram Trail to the tumbling cascades of Becky Branch Falls. It meanders through a lush, green forest, climbing steadily to an impressive set of waterfalls and rocky canyons on Martin’s Creek. It visits the large double-tiered waterfall at Martin Creek Falls. And then the true workout begins, as the hike climbs roughly 1,000 vertical feet, following the Bartram Trail and Pinnacle Knob Trail to the summit. At just over eight miles, round trip, it’s a decent workout. But with multiple waterfalls and some sublime summit views, this route has quickly become one of our favorite hikes in Georgia.
Pinnacle Knob: the hike
The adventure begins near the picnic pavilions at Warwoman Dell just east of Clayton (view maps and driving directions). The hike follows the yellow-blazed Bartram Trail northwest from the trailhead, following the cascading Becky Branch creek upstream. The trail carves through a series of sharp switchbacks beside a tumbling waterfall, and then carefully crosses the paved Warwoman Road.
The trail continues to climb, reaching a small wooden bridge below Becky Branch Falls.
The hike veers eastbound after crossing the bridge, rolling over a small knob and descending to a gravel road. After crossing the road, the trail dips into a shallow cove, crossing a wooden bridge and skipping through a shallow creek crossing. The path veers roughly northwest at one mile, exploring a forest of hardwoods, several old-growth pine, moss, and rhododendron. The hike winds through the forest, reaching Martin Creek at just over 1.5 miles, skirting a series of just-out-of-sight waterfalls in a rocky slot canyon below. The trail makes several usually-shallow creek crossings, passing a large campsite on the creek’s opposite bank, and then another large campsite on the trail’s left side just before crossing Martin Creek over a large wooden bridge.
The sound of falling water echoes through the forest. The Bartram Trail crosses another wooden bridge at just under two miles, reaching a wooden viewing platform beneath the double-tiered cascades of Martin Creek Falls.
Departing the waterfall, the hike veers southbound, and then reaching the northern edge of the large campsite, makes a sharp turn to the northwest. The trail skirts above the waterfall, passing several more broad-trunked pine.
The workout begins, as the trail begins a nearly unrelenting climb to the summit. The trail makes several shallow creek crossings and tunnels under dense rhododendron as it climbs through a mossy forest, and crosses a wooden bridge at three miles.
The hike reaches a trail intersection at 3.2 miles, turning south to follow the green-blazed Pinnacle Knob Trail. After crossing an overgrown, old gravel road, the trail arcs to the west and then curves through several switchbacks in a final race to the summit. The summit draws near, with through-the-trees views emerging to the left. Several enormous rock outcroppings border the trail.
The hike reaches the open, rocky summit at just over four miles. Large, weathered granite slabs offer a great place to take in the view. A small trail leads from the rocky area to the mountain’s true summit, marked by a US Geological Survey marker from 1934, with a small campsite nearby.
After taking in the vista, this hike turns in reverse, retracing its steps to the trailhead. After following green blazes back to the Bartram Trail, the route descends steadily, following yellow trail blazes to Martin’s Creek Falls, crossing the gravel road, and passing Becky Branch Falls. The hike reaches Warwoman Dell at just over eight 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.
Nearby hiking adventures
Have some energy left? Warwoman Dell is a particularly beautiful spot to explore, filled with seasonal wildflowers and several small waterfalls. Follow another segment of the Bartram Trail to the nearby cascades at Dicks Creek Falls, an enormous waterfall that plunges into the broad, crystalline flow of the Chattooga River. Or hike to scenic, 360-degree panoramic views from an old fire lookout tower platform on Rabun Bald, Georgia’s second-highest summit.
There are two summits in North Carolina with similar names, and fully worthy of a road trip. An hour north, hike to stunning views from a rocky, craggy knob at Pinnacle Park. Or follow the winding meanders of the ultra-scenic Blue Ridge Parkway to the stunning Craggy Gardens near Asheville, and follow a trail through a high-elevation forest to outstanding views at Craggy Pinnacle.
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 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!
Free parking is available at the Warwoman Dell trailhead.
34.882533, -83.350950 // N34 52.952 W83 21.057