North Georgia waterfalls: our top 10 favorite hikes

Waterfalls in Georgia: our top 10 favorite hikes

Hike to our favorite Georgia waterfalls on these great hikes to beautiful, cascading, spilling falls. And don't forget a picnic!

Beautiful, enchanting, serene.

It’s amazing that the simple fall of water from rock stirs up so much beauty and emotion. Georgia waterfalls are plentiful, spilling from the rolling North Georgia mountains on meandering streams, creeks, and rivers. Though they range in size, from the towering, thundering falls of Amicalola and Panther Creek, to the smaller cascades at Sweetwater Creek, a great waterfall hike just can’t be beat.

Hike North Georgia's top 10 best waterfall hikes

Waterfalls in Georgia: our favorite trails

These are our favorite hikes and backpacking adventures to our favorite Georgia falls, from short, family-friendly hikes to challenging, remote adventures in the Cohutta Wilderness. Hike one, hike them all, or plan the ultimate North Georgia waterfall road trip for an epic, falls-filled adventure!

More Georgia waterfall adventures

For a great, single-day road trip, check out our North Georgia waterfall road trip to hike to four falls at Lake Burton & Lake Rabun on a one-day hiking adventure. Already crossed off our top ten from your bucket list? We’ve featured more than 30 of our favorite hikes to the most beautiful falls in Georgia, complete with maps, photos, trail info and driving directions: check out our full list of hikes to Georgia falls. Looking for a shorter, family-friendly hike? Don’t miss our favorite waterfall hikes under two miles. Or venture northbound! Plan a short road trip across the Georgia border to explore our top 10 favorite waterfall hikes in North Carolina.

Waterfalls: when to hike?

Waterfalls make a great hiking destination in any of Georgia’s seasons. Autumn is our favorite, when fall leaf color frames the forest in a spectrum of vibrant red, green, yellow and orange. Spring rainfall turns mere trickles into gushing cascades framed by wildflowers and spring-green leaves. Summer mountain breezes catch a waterfall’s mist, providing cool mid-hike refreshment in Georgia’s summer heat. And chilly winter temperatures offer the chance to catch icicles hanging from the crest of the falls – an uncommon sight in our state’s temperate climate.

Waterfall photography

Love to snap photos of falls – but never get a great shot? Get long, wispy, white, blurry strings of whitewater in your waterfall photos by increasing the exposure time.

Grab your DSLR, mirrorless camera or point-and-shoot with exposure controls and hit the trail. Mount your camera on a lightweight but sturdy hiking tripod. (A long exposure will blur the fall’s movement – but you’ll want to keep the other landscape details sharp.) Frame the image, switch to aperture priority mode, and then set a small aperture (f/16, f/22 or smaller) and a low ISO (100). This will force your camera into a long exposure, slowing the water’s motion to a blur. Cloudy days, shooting at dawn or dusk, or adding a polarizing filter or neutral density filter to your lens will further increase the exposure time, increasing the cascade’s blurry water effect.

Want more tips on shooting waterfalls? Check out this photography guide for more info.

Hike the Emery Creek Falls Trail to two of Georgia's most beautiful, remote waterfalls

Hiking safety

A recent rainfall doesn’t always offer the best time to hit the trail. High water volume from a heavy rain can turn a tranquil waterfall into a roaring, tumultuous, muddy – and potentially dangerous – overflow. And don’t hike or climb on – or near – the falls. A waterfall’s slippery rock surface and sharp drop are dangerous. Falls can be fatal.

And don’t drink the water! As fresh and as refreshing as the water may look, North Georgia streams may contain bacteria and parasites. Don’t drink the water without safely treating it first – get more info on water filters and drinking water treatment in the backcountry.

REMINDER: Slippery rocks and fast moving water can be extremely dangerous! Do not climb, stand above, swim near, or jump from any waterfall. See more water safety tips. And please preserve North Georgia’s natural beauty. Remember to pack out everything you’ve packed in, and leave no trace on the trail.

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