Raven Cliff Falls is one of the most unique waterfalls in Georgia. Dodd Creek falls 80 feet through a narrow crevice in a large cliff, followed by a 20-foot cascade before becoming peaceful. Dodd Creek also makes several more significant drops, as it grows in size, before reaching the main show where it joins Davis Creek to become Dukes Creek - the 200-foot Dukes Creek Falls - although that one isn't quite on this hike. The 5-mile trail to Raven Cliff Falls is an excellent way to introduce yourself to hiking, as it's a good first hike. For the more experienced, a slim route, along a rock jumble and up a root ladder leads to the top of the cliff which is home to Raven Cliff Falls. This hike occurred on Saturday, April 18, 2015. My plan was to hike the Raven Cliff Falls Trail out and back from the trailhead.
R/T Length of Trail: 5 Miles
Duration of Hike: 2:50
Type of Hike: Out and back
Difficulty Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Easy trail; great for children
Cons: Big crowds, especially on weekends
Scenic Views: None
Water Features: First Falls on Dodd Creek - 3 stars; Second Falls on Dodd Creek - 4 stars; Third Falls on Dodd Creek - 6 stars; Raven Cliff Falls - 7 stars
Trail Blaze Color(s): None and none needed
Best Season(s) to Hike: Year-round
Beginning Point: Raven Cliffs Trailhead on Forest Service Road 244
Directions: From Helen, GA: Follow GA State Route 75 North to GA State Route 75 -Alternate. Turn left onto GA-75A. In 2.3 miles, take a soft right onto GA State Route 348. Follow GA-348 for 2.7 miles, and then, turn left onto Forest Service Road 244 at a sign for Raven Cliffs Trailhead. Drive for 0.1 miles to the large parking area on the left. The trail starts to the right of the road, across from the parking area.
On the day I did this hike, I had several things in mind. I wanted to do a couple short hikes to some picturesque attractions in northern Georgia, because while I have been travelling to Tennessee nearly the entire time the past few months, I have missed out on some of my local attractions.
The Raven Cliff Falls Trail starts at the road bridge over Dodd Creek. It is well-marked by signs. The trail starts off by climbing away from the creek onto the slopes of an adjacent ridgeline. At 0.1 miles, pass a couple of short spur trails leading steeply down to the creek and campsites near it. After this, the trail bends around a low ridge and descends back down to Dodd Creek. Cross Dodd Creek on a footbridge at 0.2 miles. Numerous campsites lie on the left as the trail climbs slightly above the creek. Stay above the creek, reaching the first falls at 0.4 miles. This falls consists of several small drops in cascades. it is hard to see all of the falls from any point on the creek, but you do have a good winter view of it from the trail. There are two side trails that lead to the creek on the left. The first one gives a good view of the lower part, and the second one gives a good view of the upper part and some of the creek downstream. Following this, the trail approaches the creek and follows it closely for some time. There will be some cascades on the left at 0.7 miles, and then a good creek view, as the creek is pretty straight after this. At 1.1 miles, reach the second falls. A steep, short side trail leads left to the falls. This is a picturesque, single-drop, narrow waterfall that drops over a small cliff. There is a small pool at the base. The trail rises above the creek here. At 1.3 miles, reach an impressive rock cliff to the right of the trail. You can hear loud sounds of the water below. This is the third falls. It's barely visible from the tail, but take a slim, steep side path that brings you to the base. This is an impressive, high-flow waterfall. This one closely riveled Raven Cliff Falls (in my opinion, at least).
After the third falls, the trail regains creek level. Pass a set of cascades above the falls and continue mainly flat hiking along the creek.There will be several short ups and downs, but generally, it's all easy. At 2.2 miles, cross a branch of Dodd Creek at 2.2 miles on a footbridge. Some easy uphill grades make their appearance as the trail makes its final push to Raven Cliff Falls. At 2.4 miles, reach the lower cascade of Raven Cliff Falls. The cliff with the main falls can be seen just ahead. Continue on the worn path to reach Raven Cliff Falls at 2.5 miles. Raven Cliff Falls is low-flow even during periods of rain, but it makes up for that in its beauty. The water falls through a crack in the large cliff, and then into a small pool. Beyond the falls, I decided to scramble up the large rock jumble/drainage on the right. After reaching the top, I noticed a root ladder on the left that led to the top of the cliffs. I decided that I would lose too much time here trying to get up there, and I still had another destination I wanted to see before the day was over. It would be about 15 miles away on long, winding forest service roads. Thus, I stayed at the top of the rock jumble. In winter, there is a great winter panorama from here of the Dodd Creek valley.
From this point, once you've seen the falls, retrace your steps back to the trailhead for a total of 5 miles of hiking roundtrip. To summarize, this is a short, easy hike, that is great for families/children who are willing to hike a few miles. Counting the amount of waterfalls on this relatively short hike, it's pretty good. Below are my pictures and a video of Raven Cliff Falls.
Mark Oleg Ozboyd
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