Warwoman Dell: hiking the Bartram Trail to Becky Branch Falls
Hike the Warwoman Dell Trail and Bartram Trail through beautiful forest to a trio of stunning waterfalls near Clayton, GA, including Becky Branch Falls.
Warwoman Dell is a beautiful pocket of wilderness just east of Clayton, Georgia. Tall trees shade a rolling forest floor carpeted in dense, green, lush vegetation. Mosses, wildflowers, and in spring, giant trillium flowers blanket this stream-filled valley.
This hike on the Warwoman Dell Trail and Bartram Trail explores a beautiful, lush forest and three waterfalls on two moderately easy, family-friendly trails. The hike visits the popular Becky Branch Falls waterfall, historic areas of Warwoman Dell, and several smaller waterfalls on a 1.4-mile loop.
Warwoman Dell is steeped in history. The Dell is named to honor a venerated Cherokee woman, the Warwoman, who frequented the area and advised the Cherokee tribal council on war and peace. William Bartram explored Warwoman Dell in 1775, gathering specimens from the dell’s rich botany to ship back to London. In the mid-1800s, the Blue Ridge Railroad began site work for a rail line through the Dell; thankfully, the railroad work abandoned during the Civil War. And most recently, Warwoman Dell was the site of a Civilian Conservation Corps camp in the early 20th century, where CCC workers restored the area’s natural beauty after decades of logging.
Today, Warwoman Dell is a beautiful, popular roadside picnic spot and family-friendly hiking destination. While it’s not a long hike, it’s an exceptionally beautiful one. And with three waterfalls on a relatively moderate, short trail, it’s a must-visit for families with children.
Warwoman Dell Trail and Becky Branch Falls: the hike
The adventure begins at the western parking area at Warwoman Dell (view maps and driving directions), hiking northeast on the Bartram Trail. The hike passes a picnic area, following the banks of a pebble-lined stream. The hike turns left at .15 mile, hiking northbound toward Becky Branch Falls. The Bartram Trail climbs through several sharp switchbacks, gaining elevation before carefully crossing Warwoman Road. The climb continues, the trail ascending toward Becky Branch Falls and passing an old spring house. Wildflowers and fern thrive in this shady, moist forest.
The hike reaches Becky Branch Falls at .3 mile, catching views of the waterfall from a small wood-railed bridge. Framed in leathery, blue-green rhododendron leaves, Becky Branch Creek spills down stair-stepped rock before pooling below the waterfall. Becky Branch Falls is a beautiful, misty, easily accessed waterfall – and it’s easy to see why it’s one of Rabun County’s most popular.
From the waterfall, the Bartram Trail hikes eastbound before arcing to the north, traveling to stunning summit views at Rabun Bald. This hike turns around at the waterfall, descending and crossing Warwoman Road and re-entering Warwoman Dell. After descending switchbacks alongside a small waterfall, the hike turns left, continuing the dell’s loop trail. The trail passes through Warwoman Dell’s eastern parking area, crosses Becky Branch by a wood bridge, and hangs a left at .5 mile at the creekside pavilion.
Along the trail, interpretive signs mark geologic, ecologic and historic features. The trail climbs elevation on a ridge above Becky Branch, reaching a moss-covered stone culvert. The long, tunnel-like culvert was built by the Blue Ridge Railroad in 1854 to provide drainage under the once-planned rail bed.
The trail arcs westbound at .7 mile, diving through a steep-sided ravine. To create a level passageway for the rail lines, rock was blasted and cut, exposing the chiseled rock faces visible today. 150 years later, soft green moss and crusty lichen cover the rock. Shade-loving ferns cling to the steep walls, rooting in soil trapped in the craggy rock face.
The Warwoman Dell Trail gently rolls elevation, reaching a small waterfall at .9 mile, where a creek cascades down over the steep-sided railway channel. The hike reaches a signed intersection at 1 mile, where the Bartram Trail veers southeast toward the Chattooga River. This hike continues the Warwoman Dell Trail, crossing through a picnic area, passing a large pavilion and crossing a small wooden bridge. The hike reaches a small loop at 1.1 miles, veering either way to arrive at the Warwoman Dell waterfall.
The hike departs the waterfall and backtracks through the forest, spotting an abundance of springtime wildflowers. Several old-growth trees tower above the surrounding forest, their trunks dwarfing the surrounding trees. The hike treks through the Warwoman Dell picnic area, passing the pavilion and completing the hike.
Note: slippery rocks and fast moving water can be extremely dangerous! Please don’t climb, stand on, swim near, or jump from any waterfall.
Warwoman Dell, Becky Branch Falls and Bartram Trail Map, Directions & Details
Free parking is available at the Warwoman Dell trailhead.
34.881317, -83.352883 // N34 52.879 W83 21.173