Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area: Fall Creek Waterfalls and Rocky Ford Falls via Wildcat Creek Loop, Dawsonville, Georgia
The mountains in the vicinity of Jasper are known more for their private residential communities and vacation homes than for their secluded hiking trails. It's not surprising, as most of the Mount Oglethorpe vicinity is developed heavily. There is an exception though: on the east side of Mount Oglethorpe is a 4500-acre tract of land that is part of Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area and is owned by the state. Known as the Wildcat Tract, it is home to at least five waterfalls that are up to 80 feet high. A superb trail system with two trailheads was developed throughout the Wildcat Tract, facilitating access to the waterfalls and providing a number of options for day hikes/loops with various lengths. This hike occurred on Saturday, June 17th, 2017. My plan was to hike the outer Wildcat Creek Loop counter-clockwise from the Wildcat Campground. First, I would hike the Wildcat Creek Trail and Fall Creek Trail, taking side trails to four waterfalls on Fall Creek. At the end of the Fall Creek Trail, I would follow the Tobacco Pouch Trail and then Rocky Ford Trail back into the valley, visiting Rocky Ford Falls along the way. I would conclude the hike along the Turner Trail.
What are some of the tallest waterfalls in north Georgia? You probably have the names "Amicalola Falls" and "Anna Ruby Falls" somewhere in your head. But what about Cochrans Falls? There is a possibility that you haven't heard that name before, and for good reason. This 600-foot waterfall is only around 130 feet lower than Amicalola Falls, but it is one of the most secluded waterfalls in the entire state and has nowhere near the fame of its taller neighbor to the west. On this hike, you'll follow a jeep road into the depth of the Cochrans Creek valley, before taking a rugged and steep goat path to Cochrans Falls and the head of this remote and very scenic area. This hike occurred on Saturday, May 21st, 2016. My plan was to follow a jeep road from Blackhawk Road along Cochrans Creek. At the terminus of the road, I would take an unofficial trail that would scramble along the creek and past the numerous lower cascades and drops of Cochrans Falls all the way to the uppermost and highest drop. I returned to Cochrans Falls on Saturday, June 2nd, 2018, for better photos. This trail report has been updated with new access information, and a new photo gallery can be found below.
Amicalola Falls State Park: Hike Inn Trail, AT Approach Trail, and East Ridge Trail, Dawsonville, Georgia
729-foot Amicalola Falls is famous for being the highest waterfall in Georgia. Nestled in Amicalola Falls State Park, the falls attracts a crowd of tourists all throughout the year. A network of hiking trails and pathways is positioned around the falls and both to the west and east of it. For those seeking a more intimidating hike that relatively has some solitude, the park has two trails that head out into nearby Chattahoochee National Forest. The Hike Inn Trail leads to a lodge that is accessible only by foot five miles from the park, while the AT Approach Trail acts as the access trail to Springer Mountain - the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. You'll be treated to continuous winter views and several year-round viewpoints on both trails. This hike occurred on Saturday, March 4, 2016. My plan was to take the AT Approach Trail from the Visitor Center past Amicalola Falls and to the Hike Inn parking area and trailhead. From there, I would take the Hike Inn Trail to the Len Foote Hike Inn and then to the AT Approach Trail near Amicalola Mountain. Then, I would take the AT Approach Trail to Springer Mountain. I would return to the Hike Inn Trailhead using solely the AT Approach Trail. From the Hike In Trailhead, I would take East Ridge Trail to the Visitor Center.
Late 2019/Early 2020
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Year 1: 540.0 Miles
Year 2: 552.3 Miles
Year 3: 518.4 Miles
Year 4: 482.4 Miles
Year 5: 250.2 Miles