Lower Jigger Creek Falls is a very photogenic waterfall in Cohutta Wildlife Management Area that is easy to access yet off the radar. The falls is only about 25 feet high but consists of a scenic free-fall and steep cascade amidst large boulders and jagged rock outcrops. Lower Jigger Creek Falls' setting is striking thanks to the sizable boulder field that begins at the waterfall and continues for some distance downstream. The short hike to the falls follows distinct paths with exclusively easy grades from East Cowpen Road. This hike occurred on Saturday, September 23rd, 2017. My plan was to hike out and back to Lower Jigger Creek Falls from East Cowpen Road.
R/T Length of Trail: 1.4 Miles
Duration of Hike: 2:00 (includes over 1 hour at the falls)
Type of Hike: Out and Back
Difficulty Rating: 3 out of 10
Total Elevation Gain: 272 Feet
Pros: Distinct trail to a little-known waterfall
Cons: Some lack of parking space
Points of Interest: Lower Jigger Creek Falls - 6 stars
Trail Blaze Colors: None, not an official trail
Best Seasons to Hike: Winter
Beginning Point: Side Road off FS 51
Directions from Chatsworth, GA: Follow US Route 411 North from the intersection with US 76/GA 52 West for about 11.8 miles. In Cisco, turn right onto Old Highway 2. The road will turn gravel shortly. Follow it for 7.6 miles, and then, turn right onto Forest Service Road 51 (East Cowpen Road). After 1.4 miles, FS 51 makes a sharp left turn as it reaches Jigger Creek. At the end of the turn, a side road bears right and downhill to Jigger Creek. Drive down the side road and cross the creek (a bit higher clearance may be preferable for this). The side road ends on the other side. If there is nobody here, simply park at the end, but the end of the side road is sometimes used as a creek-side campsite, in which case there will be space left for only one car in a wide spot on the south side of the creek just before the end of the road.
Click the link below to download a .GPX file with a track of this hike.
From the small parking area on the south side of Jigger Creek (across the creek from FS 51), the trail to Lower Jigger Creek Falls begins heading downstream along the same side of Jigger Creek in the form of a distinct path on an old forest road. This unofficial trail is actually used by horses and is even called Gryder Camp Trail on some maps. The trail hops across an unnamed tributary and quickly begins ascending gently to a ridge above Jigger Creek. The high point of the trail is reached at 0.2 miles. After this, an equally gradual descent commences, with a few blowdowns along the way. At 0.35 miles, the trail makes a fairly sharp curve to the left. At the time of my hike, a piece of flagging tape was on a tree at the curve. Some publications that describe the hike to Lower Jigger Creek Falls state that you must leave the trail at this curve (and supposedly the flagging tape marks the turning point) but this description is outdated, as there is a better way to reach the falls. Thus, stay on the distinct trail as it curves down through a hollow. At 0.5 miles, the trail arrives at a spot that is usually muddy. A few feet past the muddy stretch, a narrow but well-used path branches off to the right toward Jigger Creek while the main trail continues forward. The side path on the right is the trail you must take to Lower Jigger Creek Falls.
The side path reaches Jigger Creek in about 250 feet, crossing to the north side of the creek at 0.55 miles. This is usually a dry crossing thanks to a large flat stone in the middle, but if the water level is up a lot, then this might turn into a wade. The trail then closely follows the creek downstream. It passes a nice creek-side campsite and then enters an old logging road cut alongside an impressive line of bluffs at the top of Lower Jigger Creek Falls at 0.6 miles. Continue on the trail for about 150 feet, and then, look for a route to creek-level through the rocks on the left. There are several different routes down the open slope, and while all are steep, none are particularly difficult. If you stay on the trail for 100 feet more, there'll be a less steep but also less open way to the falls down on the left. Once at the creek, scramble over the boulders back upstream to the base of Lower Jigger Creek Falls, which you should reach around 0.7 miles.
Lower Jigger Creek Falls is a small but breathtaking waterfall. The falls itself is only about 25 feet high, but the upper part is a very scenic free-fall followed by a twisting cascade that drops into a small dark pool. Beside its photogenic shape, Lower Jigger Creek Falls is also in a beautiful pristine setting. Large boulders and jagged rock outcrops surround the waterfall, giving it a remote feel. Plus, the remarkable boulder field that starts at the falls also continues for some distance downstream. I was fascinated by the unusually large amount of twisting trees that grow straight out of the rocks here!
Retrace your steps back to the trailhead, concluding the Lower Jigger Creek Falls hike at 1.4 miles. Read the "Bonus Stops" section below for information on Upper Jigger Creek Falls.
0.0 - Jigger Creek Trailhead
0.5 - Right Turn
0.55 - Jigger Creek Crossing
0.7 - Lower Jigger Creek Falls
1.4 - Jigger Creek Trailhead
There is another waterfall on Jigger Creek: Upper Jigger Creek Falls. Upper Jigger Creek Falls is less scenic than its lower counterpart, but it's also much easier to reach as its a roadside waterfall at Mile 1.6 on FS 51. A steep path leads to the base. Upper Jigger Creek Falls is about 15 feet high and begins with an interesting overflowing chute followed by a stairstep cascade. If you're hiking to Lower Jigger Creek Falls, it is worth taking the extra time to drive over to Upper Jigger Creek Falls as well. I currently don't have a satisfactory picture of Upper Jigger Creek Falls as I have stopped to take photos of it only during severe drought conditions (September 2016), so the photo gallery below has pictures of only the lower falls, but there are a few photos of the upper falls on the internet.
Pictures & Videos
Mark Oleg Ozboyd
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