The 15 Best Waterfalls Near Helen GA

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[Updated September 13, 2021] Widely known as “Georgia’s Alpine Village,” Helen is a beautiful mountain town that offers a charming bit of Bavaria in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Although the town is relatively small (2.17 square miles, population around 600), travelers come from all over to experience a taste of the Alps in the southern Appalachians.  

Although the town may be a bit too touristy for some folks, it’s easy to understand why it’s so popular once you see all the quirky shops, restaurants, roadside attractions, and other family-friendly fun Helen has to offer. 

Situated along the beautiful banks of the Chattahoochee River, Helen also attracts those seeking outdoor adventure.

There are an impressive number of state parks, majestic mountains, hiking trails, and spectacular waterfalls in the area, most within a 15 to 20 mile radius.

To help you find your new favorite, we’ve compiled this list of the 15 best waterfalls near Helen GA, with options ranging from shorter hikes that are perfect for a quick excursion to longer treks that make for a great full-day adventure.

Love North GA Waterfalls? Check out these great guides!

The 20 Best North Georgia Waterfalls (& How to Get to Them)

How to Get to Horse Trough Falls in Helen GA (Upper Chattahoochee River Campground)

The 10 Best Waterfalls Near Blue Ridge GA

How to Get to Anna Ruby Falls Near Helen GA

How to Get to Dukes Creek Falls Near Helen GA

How to Get to Helton Creek Falls in Blairsville GA

How to Get to Hemlock Falls at Moccasin Creek State Park

How to Get to Minnehaha Falls on Lake Rabun

How to Get to Panther Falls & Angel Falls at Lake Rabun Beach

How to Get to Long Creek Falls in Blue Ridge GA

How to Get to Sea Creek Falls in Suches, GA

How to Get to the DeSoto Falls Scenic Area Near Helen GA

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Helen GA

Best Waterfalls Near Helen Guide

  1. Chunanee Falls (at Smithgall Woods State Park)
  2. Dukes Creek Falls
  3. Anna Ruby Falls
  4. Raven Cliff Falls
  5. High Shoals Falls
  6. Blue Hole Falls
  7. Horsetrough Falls
  8. Helton Creek Falls
  9. Water’s Creek Falls (a.k.a. Dick’s Creek Falls)
  10. Hemlock Falls (at Moccasin Creek State Park)
  11. DeSoto Falls
  12. Trahlyta Falls (at Vogel State Park)
  13. Minnehaha Falls
  14. Blood Mountain Falls
  15. Nottely Falls

 

Chunanee Falls Trail in Smithgall Woods State Park
Chunanee Falls, photo courtesy Smithgall Woods State Park

Chunanee Falls (Smithgall Woods State Park)

Helen, GA

Distance from Downtown Helen: 3.8 miles

Level of Difficulty: Moderate

Trail Length: 6.6 miles

Elevation Gain: 298 feet

Originally used for hydraulic gold mining during the 19th century, the land that makes up Smithgall Woods State Park is filled with all sorts of hidden gems, including this beautiful waterfall.

Like all hikes in the state park, it starts on the paved Tsalaki Trail at the Visitor Center, which heads east along Dukes Creek in rolling terrain through the forest.

At 2.8 miles, you’ll reach the trailhead for the Cathy Ellis Trail (a.k.a. Chunanee Falls Trail), where you’ll see a plaque explaining the 640-acre tract’s significance. 

From there it’s a half-mile hike (mostly downhill) to the waterfall, with rhododendron providing shade and noisy Dukes Creek providing the soundtrack for the last 400 yards or so. 

It’s a picturesque place to spend an afternoon, cooled by shade in the heat of summer and rarely visited due to the hiking distance to reach it. 

READ MORE: The 25 Best Hiking Trails in North Georgia Bucket List

Vertical shot of Dukes Creek Falls near Helen GA
Davis Creek section of Dukes Creek Falls, by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

Dukes Creek Falls

Helen, GA

Distance from Downtown Helen: 5.4 miles

Level of difficulty: Easy

Trail Length: 2 miles

Elevation Gain: 300 feet

Both kid/dog-friendly and partially wheelchair-accessible, the Dukes Creek Falls trail is one of the most popular North Georgia waterfall hikes. 

The 2-mile trek to the falls departs at the Dukes Creek trailhead, where you can catch a great view of Yonah Mountain before heading out on your journey.

The paved trail reached an ADA-accessible viewing platform at about 1/10th of a mile. There you can get a first look at the falls in the distance before the trail turns to dirt and drops in elevation through a series of switchbacks.

As you continue along the wide, well-maintained path, you’ll be treated to several sightings of smaller cascades, as well as glimpses of the upper part of Dukes Creek Falls peaking through the trees.

Eventually you’ll reach a viewing platform where you can admire the breathtakingly beautiful waterfalls, one of which plummets some 150 feet from the cliffs high above. 

READ MORE: How to Get to Dukes Creek Falls in Helen GA

Anna Ruby Falls at Vogel State Park near Helen, GA
Anna Ruby Falls, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

Anna Ruby Falls

Helen, GA

Distance from Downtown Helen: 5.7 miles

Level of difficulty: Easy

Trail Length: 0.8 miles

Elevation Gain: 219 feet

Located in Unicoi State Park, the trail to Anna Ruby Falls explores a beautiful part of the Chattahoochee National Forest.

At just 0.8 miles round trip, it ranks among the easiest waterfall hikes in North Georgia.

Starting at the Anna Ruby Falls Visitor Center, the photogenic path is entirely paved and features interpretive signs along the way detailing the area’s history, geology, and wildlife.

You can see the creek and hear the rushing waters of the falls throughout most of the hike, but it’s the views at the end that will make your visit so memorable. 

There are two wooden viewing platforms where you can have a picnic and watch in awe as Curtis Creek (on the left) drops 153 feet and York Creek drops 50 feet to form Smith Creek, which eventually flow into the peaceful Unicoi Lake.

READ MORE: How to Get to Anna Ruby Falls Near Helen, GA

Raven Cliff Falls near Helen GA
Raven Cliff Falls, by Michael Gonyea via Heavy Nature Photos

Raven Cliff Falls

Helen, GA

Distance from Downtown Helen: 6.4 miles 

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Trail Length: 4.9 miles

Elevation Gain: 400 feet

Set against a backdrop of towering hardwood trees, verdant moss, and creek banks lined with vibrant wildflowers, Raven Cliffs Falls is one of the most breathtaking waterfalls in Helen GA.

The Raven Cliff Falls Trail will guide you to the gorgeous display of natural beauty, starting out at a gravel trailhead and following Dodd Creek upstream.

After crossing the creek on a wooden bridge, the trail continues through the forest, where you’ll spot a few meandering streams and smaller cascades along the path. 

The roar of the falls will eventually begin to fill your ears. At just over 2 miles you’ll come face-to-face with the 40-foot waterfall, as the water surges down a huge rock outcrop before collecting in the tranquil pool below. 

After taking in the beauty of the falls, you’ll follow Dodd Creek back downstream to the trailhead, completing the hike at just under 5 miles.

READ MORE: The 20 Best North Georgia Waterfalls (& How to Get to Them)

High Shoals Falls
High Shoals Falls, photo via Canva

High Shoals Falls

Hiawassee, GA

Distance from Downtown Helen: 12.4 miles

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Trail Length: 2.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 577 feet

Nestled in the Chattahoochee National Forest just 12 miles north of Helen, this moderately difficult hike leads to two of the most beautiful waterfalls in northern Georgia.

The trail explores an old-growth forest filled with mountain laurel before passing primitive campsites (which are perfect for backpackers) and crossing High Shoals Creek.

At one mile in, you’ll reach the captivating Blue Hole Falls, a single cascade that collects in a deep, turquoise pool. 

Continuing on through a series of switchbacks and stone stairs, you’ll begin to hear the rushing cascades before reaching High Shoals Falls. 

When the breathtaking 50-foot plummet suddenly comes into view, it’s a moment that will prove hard to forget. After taking in the beauty of the falls, you can follow the trail outbound to complete the hike at 2.4 miles.

READ MORE: The 15 Best North Georgia Mountains for Hiking

Blue Hole Falls near Helen GA
Blue Hole Falls near Helen GA, photo by Maria Guillen

Blue Hole Falls

Hiawassee, GA

Distance from Downtown Helen: 13.3 miles

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Trail Length: 2 miles

Elevation Gain: 500 feet

Blue Hole Falls is a hidden gem tucked away in the Chattahoochee National Forest 13 miles north of Helen.

The waterfall boasts a 20-foot drop that collects in the deep, turquoise pool from which the falls get their name.

One of the more popular swimming holes in Georgia, the pool reaches over 10 feet at its deepest and has incredibly clear water, making it perfect for cooling off during warm weather. 

To reach the falls, follow the High Shoals Trail downhill through a lush forest, across High Shoals Creek, and past a number of primitive campsites. You’ll reach Blue Hole Falls at around one mile in. 

From there you can either retrace your steps back to the trailhead to complete the hike at 2 miles, or keep going to reach High Shoals Falls and extend your adventure.

READ MORE: The 20 Best Places to Live in the Georgia Mountains

Horsetrough Falls Near Helen GA
Horsetrough Falls, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

Horsetrough Falls 

Distance from Downtown Helen: 14 miles

Level of difficulty: Easy

Trail Length: .4 miles 

Elevation Gain: Negligible

Horsetrough Falls is one of the few Helen waterfalls you can visit and rest assured that you will likely be one of the only people there. 

That’s largely because it’s located at the end of a relatively rugged 5-mile Forest Service Road, which has large ruts that require either a 4X4 or a confident and experienced driver. We did it in a Hyundai Elantra, but went very slowly. 

The trailhead is located in the Upper Chattahoochee River Campground, which is “temporarily closed due to tornado damage” and “soon to be repaired.” But when we visited, the overgrown campsites suggest that “soon” may be relative.

Long story short, you’ll have to park outside the gate and walk through the long-empty campground to reach the trail, which adds maybe a half-mile to the hike each way. 

Still, it’s a lovely walk through a gorgeous stretch of forest, and Horsetrough Falls easily ranks among the most beautiful Georgia waterfalls we’ve ever visited. It truly feels like having a taste of Eden all to yourself!

READ MORE: The 10 Best Waterfalls Near Blue Ridge GA

Closeup of Upper Helton Creek Waterfall
Upper Helton Creek Falls, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

Helton Creek Falls

Blairsville, GA

Distance from Downtown Helen: 16.6 miles

Level of difficulty: Easy

Trail Length: 0.6 miles

Elevation Gain: 29 feet

One of the easiest waterfall hikes in GA, the Helton Creek Falls Trail is just over a half-mile round-trip and has minimal elevation gain, which makes it perfect for small kids and dogs.

The hike begins by descending a staircase enveloped in an array of rhododendron, hardwood trees, and conifers.

After taking a short side trail and one more set of wooden stairs, you’ll reach the base of Helton Creek’s lower falls. There, water pours over a smooth rock face into a crystalline pool of water where kids will love splashing around. 

From there, the trail continues climbing to a viewing platform that offers a stunning view of Upper Helton Creek Falls as they tumble over a massive rock outcrop. There’s lots of large rocks around for enjoying a picnic or soaking in the scenery. 

After enjoying the sights, you can make your way back to the trailhead to complete your brief, yet fun-filled adventure. 

READ MORE: How to Get to Helton Creek Falls in Blairsville GA

Waters Creek Falls a.k.a. Dick's Creek Falls in Cleveland GA
Waters Creek Falls, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

Water’s Creek Falls (a.k.a. Dick’s Creek Falls)

Cleveland, GA

Distance from Downtown Helen: 19.8 miles

Level of difficulty: Easy

Trail Length: 0.1 miles

Elevation Gain: Negligible

There’s a lot of confusion surrounding this, one of our favorite waterfalls near Helen for swimming.

The White County Chamber of Commerce and City of Dahlonega call it Dick’s Creek Falls. This confuses people because there’s a more well-known Dick’s Creek Falls located near Black Rock Mountain State Park in Clayton GA, with a popular hiking trail that leads to the Chattooga River.

But the US Forest Service, Google Maps, and AllTrails (the go-to app for many avid hikers) refer to it as Water’s Creek Falls, despite the fact that it’s located on Dick’s Creek. Personally, we think this name makes more sense. 

Regardless of what you call it, this is one of the easiest waterfalls in Georgia to get to. It’s right off Dick’s Creek Rd in Cleveland, where Water’s Creek and Dick’s Creek converge, with two falls located within 50 yards of the parking lot. 

Note that this is a popular North Georgia swimming hole, and can get quite crowded on weekends in summer. Go early on weekends, or anytime on weekdays, to see one of the most beautiful waterfalls near Helen for yourself. 

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Clayton, GA (the Gem of Northeast Georgia)

Hemlock Falls, GA near Moccasin Creek State Park
Hemlock Falls, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

Hemlock Falls (at Moccasin Creek State Park)

Clarksville, GA

Distance from Downtown Helen: 20.1 miles

Level of difficulty: Easy

Trail Length: 2 miles

Elevation Gain: 242 feet

Hemlock Falls is a 15-foot North Georgia waterfall located in Moccasin Creek State Park

The hike to the falls begins near the shore of Lake Burton, one of our favorite lakes in the North Georgia mountains.

The Hemlock Falls trail steadily gains in elevation before crossing a wooden bridge over Moccasin Creek. At one mile in, you’ll reach a clearing where you can watch as Hemlock Falls cascades over a rocky cliff into a tranquil pool below. 

There is a beach-like area with large rocks all around that’s perfect for taking a break and having an afternoon picnic. There’s also a smaller cascade just a few hundred feet downstream. 

When you’re done exploring, simply follow Moccasin Creek back down to complete your adventure at 2 miles.

READ MORE: How to Get to Hemlock Falls at Moccasin Creek State Park, Georgia

Lower Falls at Desoto Falls
Lower Falls at Desoto Falls, photo by Hope Cross

DeSoto Falls

Suches, GA

Distance from Downtown Helen: 20.8 miles

Level of difficulty: Easy

Trail Length: 2.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 160 feet

DeSoto Falls is a mystical pair of waterfalls that are believed to be where a piece of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto’s armor was found from his expedition in the 1500s.

The hike to the falls begins at a paid parking area and follows a paved path before crossing the rhododendron-lined banks of Frogtown Creek. Here you’ll get your first sight of the lower DeSoto Falls.

After around 1/4 of a mile, you’ll reach a wooden viewing platform where you can see them up close.

But the hike isn’t over yet, because after crossing one more wooden bridge you’ll reach the breathtaking 80-foot cascades of upper DeSoto Falls. 

There’s a spacious viewing platform where you can take time soaking in the beauty of the falls and surrounding forest before heading back and completing the hike at approximately 2.2 miles.

READ MORE: Inside the Utterly Unique Unicoi State Park Barrel Cabins in Helen GA

Trahlyta Falls in Vogel State Park, North Georgia Mountains
Trahlyta Falls, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

Trahlyta Falls

Blairsville, GA

Distance from Helen: 21.2 miles

Level of difficulty: Easy

Trail Length: 1.1 miles

Elevation Gain: 75 feet

Located in one of the oldest North Georgia State Parks and surrounded by the lush Chattahoochee National Forest, the 110-foot-tall Trahlyta Falls was an easy pick for one of the best falls near Helen.

The Trahlyta Lake Trail is one of the easiest and most scenic waterfall hikes in GA. It starts near the Vogel State Park Visitors Center and guides you right to the stunning cascades.

The trail crosses over a wooden boardwalk and continues onto an earthen dam, where you can catch awesome views of Trahlyta Lake and Blood Mountain before descending a set of wooden stairs.

After descending the stairs you’ll reach a large viewing platform where you can get close to the rushing cascades of Trahlyta Falls and admire them in all their glory.

As you can see from the photo above, they’re especially beautiful when framed by the colors of Fall in North Georgia!

READ MORE: The 15 Best North Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites

The 60-foot-tall Minnehaha Falls near Lake Rabun, GA
Minnehaha Falls, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

Minnehaha Falls

Lakemont, GA

Distance from Downtown Helen: 23.8 miles

Level of difficulty: Easy

Trail Length: 0.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 62 feet

Minnehaha Falls is one of the most popular falls in north Georgia. It’s also one of the best waterfalls to visit with kids because of the short hike to reach it. 

The Bear Gap trailhead (distinguished by a green diamond and the number 147) marks the beginning of the hike, which travels near the rhododendron-lined banks of Lake Rabun.

After you climb a set of wooden stairs, the hike is just .2 miles on a gentle incline through a beautiful forest. Then you’ll reach a clearing that reveals the enchanting multi-tiered cascades of Minnehaha Falls.

There’s an expansive area at the base of the falls with lots of rocks where you can take in the spectacular views of the towering 50-foot drop from multiple angles.

The easy in-and-out trail is less than half a mile in total, making this one of the most rewarding hikes in North Georgia for minimal effort!

READ MORE: How to Get to Minnehaha Falls, GA at Lake Rabun

blood mountain overlook
Blood Mountain Overlook, photo by Hope Cross

Blood Mountain Falls

Blairsville, GA

Distance from Helen: 24.3 miles

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Elevation Gain: Negligible

Situated on the border of the incredible Blood Mountain Wilderness Area, Blood Mountain Falls can be a little tough to find considering there is no officially marked trail. But it’s definitely well worth the effort.

The hike to the falls starts at the intersection of US 19/129, which is known as Turners Corner. Head west on US 19 for about 1/2 mile, and then turn right on Dick’s Creek Road.

The road will narrow, but keep going until you reach the Blood Mountain stream. The magnificent 80-foot tiered falls will be on your right.

Along with the falls, there will be a few deep pools along the stream that make for great swimming holes. There are also several scenic areas where you can stop for a rest before making the trek back.

READ MORE: Hiking the Blood Mountain Trail in Blairsville, GA

Nottely Falls in Blairsville GA
Nottely Falls, photo courtesy of Alan Cressler

Nottely Falls

Blairsville, GA

Distance from Downtown Helen: 24.9 miles

Level of difficulty: Strenous

Elevation Gain: Unknown

Located in the Chattahoochee National Forest, Nottely Falls is one of the most unique and relatively inaccessible waterfalls near Helen GA.

The falls drop a magnificent 120 feet and, unlike most waterfalls in the area, the water plummets down at a nearly exact 45-degree angle!

While Nottely Falls is intriguing for many hikers, it should really be left for those with lots of bushwhacking experience. There isn’t a marked trail here, getting to it can be tricky, and numerous people have died while trying to access the waterfall from the top. 

If you’re an experienced off-trail hiker who’s up for the adventure, park in the Byron Herbert Reece Trail parking area and walk along US Highway 19/129 before turning right on what will be an extremely steep slope to Shanty Branch.

From there, follow the creek upstream and you’ll reach the base of the falls. We strongly suggest you use caution and do not try to climb the falls under any circumstances!  –by Christina Maggitas, with additional reporting by Bret Love; lead photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

Growing up in rural south Georgia, Christina Maggitas developed a love for nature at a young age and spent the majority of her formative years outdoors. Since first visiting the Great Smokey Mountains with her family as a child, she has always admired the beauty of the Blue Ridge region and spends as much time as she can hiking north Georgia. She has a passion for writing and storytelling with the hopes of inspiring others to enjoy the great outdoors. Currently, Christina is a senior at Kennesaw State University where she is studying Journalism and Emerging Media.