Hike the Warwoman Dell Trail and Bartram Trail through beautiful forest to a trio of stunning waterfalls near Clayton, GA, including Becky Branch Falls.
LOCATION:Rabun County near Clayton, Georgia
OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 778 Trails Illustrated Map
Warwoman Dell is a beautiful pocket of wilderness just east of Clayton, Georgia, with tall trees shading a rolling forest floor carpeted in lush, green vegetation. Mosses and enormous wildflowers blanket the stream-filled valley, and beautiful waterfalls, including the cascades of Becky Branch Falls, tumble through the forest.
This hike follows the Warwoman Dell Trail and Bartram Trail to three waterfalls on a moderately easy, family-friendly adventure. 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. It was 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 the area 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 was abandoned during the Civil War. And it 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, the dell is a beautiful, popular roadside picnic spot and family-friendly hiking destination. While the trail doesn’t offer a long hike, it’s an exceptionally beautiful one. And with three waterfalls on a relatively moderate, short trail, it’s pretty much a must-visit if you’re in the area.
Becky Branch Falls and Warwoman Dell: the hike
The adventure begins at the dell’s western parking area (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, passing an old spring house. Wildflowers and fern thrive in this shady, sun-dappled 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 spills down stair-stepped rock before pooling below the waterfall. It’s 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 the road and re-entering Warwoman Dell. After descending through switchbacks alongside a small waterfall, the hike turns left, continuing the dell’s loop trail. The trail passes through the 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 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 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 following the loop, 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 a third waterfall.
Departing the waterfall, the hike backtracks through the forest, winding through an abundance of springtime wildflowers. Several old-growth trees tower above the surrounding forest, with trunks dwarfing the surrounding trees. Reaching the Warwoman Dell picnic area, the hike passes the pavilion and completes 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.
This map is not a substitute for official trail maps or topographic maps.
Free parking is available at the Warwoman Dell trailhead.
34.881317, -83.352883 // N34 52.879 W83 21.173