Frogcreek Valley: Desoto Falls Trail – Georgia

Snuck this hike in on a drive home from visiting my parents in the northeast GA mountains.  You have to park and pass through a public campground to access this trail, so don’t expect too much seclusion.  However, the two waterfalls on this trail are worth checking out and this is a nice, easy day hike for a family, photographers, and all waterfall enthusiasts.  Located near Blood Mountain and the Applachian Trail, this hike is a total of 2.4 miles and is rated as easy, with 1 or 2 very small hills that could be labeled as moderate.

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The waterfalls are on tributaries to Frogtown Creek.  which begins near the Appalachian Trail outdoor supply shop Mountain Crossings at Walasi-yi in Neel’s Gap. The original name, Frogtown Gap, was changed by the state of Georgia to honor the engineer responsible for the construction of Highway 129. The Cherokee believed that a great frog, Walasi, guarded the sacred site of Blood Mountain.
Anyways, stop in and support the local business at Mountain Crossings.  Pick up a drink, sticker, or splurge and buy yourself a new Granite Gear backpack (I recommend them).  Also, give the sasquatch statue a pat on the head for good luck.

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After parking in the Desoto Falls recreation area, walk past the restrooms, and look for the sign directing you to the trailhead. You will have to walk the paved campground road briefly and pass by the public campground to access the trailhead.  You will cross a bridge to a sign at the trailhead which explains the name of the area.  According to local lore, Desoto Falls is so named based on the discovery of a plate of armor near the falls in the 1880’s during the time of a book in the logging industry throughout the area. Whether or not this piece of historical armor was truly discovered here is debated; however, men under Hernando Desoto were known to have been in this mountainous area in 1541. 

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At the sign, the trail splits. Turn left to begin a short climb to the Lower Falls. After a large rock outcrop the trail turns right and climbs the final distance to a wooden platform almost directly underneath the falls.  Lower falls is a 35-foot beauty with a small pool at the bottom.  During the spring, or after a heavy rain, these falls are at their fullest. 

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After taking in Lower Falls, turn around and retrace your steps back to the trailhead at the bridge and the historical sign.  Continue straight here with the river on your right.  After a tributary joins Frogtown Creek on the right, the trail will gradually climb over 3 hills.  Notice the interesting slabs of rock bordering the trail as you make the trek.

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Just over 1.4 miles into the hike you will crosses a bridge and you can see the falls on the left.

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Stepping off the bridge the Forest Service sign that indicates the trail to the upper falls is closed is straight ahead. Turn left and make the easy ascent to the wooden viewing deck. The three tiered falls begin as a straight drop from the center of a ledge and works it way down to a small pool at the bottom.  Take some time to take in the scenery, relax, and take some photographs.  

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After viewing the falls, just turn around and retrace your path to the car.  Leave no trace, be safe (don’t climb over the viewing platform railings as the rocks are extremely slippery), enjoy the scenery/hike.

P.S. Even though this was an easy short hike, this guy was toast afterwards.

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