We love North Georgia Waterfalls. Really we do. But our preference is for non-platform viewing area (it’s a new adjective) waterfalls. The most popular North Georgia waterfalls tend to have more crowds and selfie sticks than wild beauty. It doesn’t mean that Anna Ruby Falls and Cloudland Canyon aren’t great. They are. But we like having a little more room to spread out.
So we have decided to put together a short suggested trip with a cluster of waterfalls that are a little quieter. Three of the four are less than half mile hikes so they are perfect for all ages. And the best part . . . no fancy viewing decks!! This suggested trip will take you to four North Georgia waterfalls and on a beautiful scenic trip around Lake Seed and Lake Rabun with stops at the end for lunch/dinner and a little shopping if you want. We have the map laid out from Minnehaha Falls to Crow Creek Falls back to Bad Branch Falls then to Angel and Panther Falls with a suggested stop in historic Lakemont and a run up to Clayton if you want to tack on some shopping or food and drink.
Minnehaha Falls (34.74996, -83.47952): We’ll start with the most popular of the four. Minnehaha Falls has the biggest “crowds” although we’ve never seen more than 15-20 people no matter what time of year we go. It’s less than a half mile hike and is one of the more impressive waterfalls in North Georgia because of it’s height and your ability to get right up to it and in it. The closest cities are Clarkesville and Clayton and you can approach it either way. There isn’t much of a parking area but it’s hard to miss once you get there. There is a small set of steps to get you going before it pretty much levels out. There are a few spots you can climb down to on the right side of the trail as you get there. We usually hop down to one of those spots for a picnic as once you get to the falls, you’re pretty much in them.
Crow Creek Falls (34.77415, -83.52367): Crow Creek Falls is less a waterfall and more a series of “mini-falls”. It is not a marked waterfall nor does it have much in the way of parking. From Minnehaha Falls go down Bear Gap Road back to the west. Go about 1.5 miles and you’ll take a left on Low Gap Road (this little “intersection” usually has four or five dogs lounging around in the sun – drive carefully!!). If you get back to the dam on your left, you’ve gone too far. Go a short distance on Low Gap Road and stay straight (slightly veer to the right) down Crow Creek Road (there is a sign). Go down Crow Creek Road for about 3.7 miles. Drive slow as you’ll usually jump deer or run across wild turkeys. There are some places where you feel like you are driving through someone’s driveway. Don’t worry. Keep driving as it is a well traveled road believe it or not. Once you get to that mileage you should see a small pull off on the right hand side. The first set of falls you can see from the road on your left just before you park. It will actually look like there are two trails depending on how far up you park but you want to take the one on the left (where you have to climb up a little rock/dirt mound to get started). This trail runs to the right of Crow Creek for a few miles but you don’t have to go any further than a half mile back to find some good spots. It’s a pretty wide trail with moss covered rocks on one side and mountain laurel and rhododendrons making an overarching canopy over the top so it feels like you’re walking in a tunnel. The best sets of falls are the first couple. There is one (the third bigger one from the road) about a .25-.3 miles back that is our favorite as it’s easy to climb on and wade around in. But the whole creek is full of dozens of them and there is a ton of privacy here. Just be respectful as there are full time residents that live near the little parking area.
Bad Branch Falls (34.76713, -83.51951): From Crow Creek Falls, turn around and go back in the direction you just came. Just like Crow Creek Falls, there are no signs for Bad Branch Falls and no real parking. There are a few small, not marked, pullouts where the road widens directly after you pass the trail although we suggest parking in Lake Seed Primitive Camping (see below) parking lot if you don’t want to deal with the hassle. Once you park there, walk up the gravel road about an 1/8 of a mile. It’s easiest if you make note of it as you drive past it on the way up to Crow Creek so ay attention to your odometer when heading up and you’ll notice a very small trail cut up on the left hand side of the road at about the 2.7 or 2.8 mile mark. It’s small which is why we want you to make note of it when you drive past it. But from Crow Creek Falls, the trail is about a mile back down the road on your right. The trail runs up about a quarter of a mile and is slightly uphill at the beginning before leveling out. What makes Bad Branch Falls amazing is that it is an old rock quarry. The falls are covered in rocks with dynamite holes in them. There are a couple of huge flat areas for camping or to spread out for a picnic. This is one of our favorites because the falls are gorgeous and shoot out a few feet away from the rock wall and we have never seen anyone here. We have also been told by our neighbors that there are all kinds of bio luminous plants that “bloom” here in the Spring and the whole forest glows a few days a year during this time!
Angel & Panther Falls (34.76035, -83.47068): Be sure to check out our Angel Falls review if you want more detailed information. From Bad Branch Falls, head back down the way you came down Crow Creek Road. You want to work your way back to Lake Rabun Road. Head back east (lake on your right side) on Lake Rabun Road towards Clayton. About 2 miles down you will see a sign on the left for Angel Falls and a small parking area (just don’t park in front of our mailbox). The waterfall is actually a series of two falls . . . Angel Falls and Panther Falls. Our full review has all the details and more photos. The hike to this one 1.7 miles round trip, but it’s worth it and still relatively short. The trail follows Joe Creek the whole way. There are lots of interesting historical things as the Corps of Engineers used to use this for all kinds of things back in the day. There is even a primitive “refrigerator”. Angel Falls is the bottom set and Panther Falls is at the top. We saved the longest for last so you can reward yourself with a beer or food when you’re done.
Historic Lakemont: After your waterfall exploring, you have to stop by Historic Lakemont on the way out. There is a great little shop called Personify. A little grocery and deli called Annie’s At Alley’s. You can read more about Annie’s here if you want a full review. There are a few other cute little shops, an antique truck, and a huge mural. Definitely worth stopping by here to refuel. Most of the shops are closed January through March. So just be sure to Google ahead of time to see if they’re open. But even if they’re closed, drive by and take your picture in front of the mural and make a note to visit them later on.
Camping Options: If you’re looking to camp while you’re there you have two official options on this route. Lake Seed Primitive Camping and Lake Rabun Beach Recreation Area; both are only opened seasonally and closed during the winter months.
Alternate Destinations: Tiger Mountain Vineyards (wine), Glassy Mountain; super interesting (hiking), Tiger Drive-In (movies), U-Joint Clayton (food). Check out our map for specific locations for some of these spots.