Sarahs Creek is one of a handful of remote streams that drain the slopes of Rabun Bald, Georgia's second highest peak. Most of those streams form noteworthy waterfalls, but while some - such as Holcomb Creek Falls - are popular, others like the two waterfalls on Sarahs Creek are hardly known about. The hike from the end of Forest Road 155C to Upper and Lower Sarahs Creek Falls is fairly easy, but it does entail sections of creek-walk and minor bushwhacking in addition to navigating along faint paths. Those who reach both waterfalls will be rewarded with an interesting upper waterfall in a canyon flanked by a very tall cliff and a pristine lower waterfall that drops around 70 feet. This hike occurred on Saturday, May 27th, 2017. My plan was to hike the gated part of FS 155C from the gate to a faint trail that descended into the Sarahs Creek valley. I would follow the trail for some time, before leaving the trail and bushwhacking down to Sarahs Creek, and hike up the creek to Upper Sarahs Creek Falls. Finally, I would return to the trail and follow it down to Lower Sarahs Creek Falls. I would return the same way.
R/T Length of Trail: 1.2 Miles
Duration of Hike: 2:30
Type of Hike: Y-Configuration
Difficulty Rating: 4 out of 10
Total Elevation Gain: 412 Feet
Pros: No serious bushwhacking is required despite the remote nature of these waterfalls
Cons: A "creek-walk" is required to reach both the upper and lower waterfalls, and during high water, these creek-walks will be time-consuming
Points of Interest: Upper Sarahs Creek Falls - 5 stars; Lower Sarahs Creek Falls - 7 stars
Trail Blaze Colors: None
Best Seasons to Hike: Summer
Beginning Point: End of FS 155C
Directions from Clayton, GA: From the intersection of Rickman Drive, Savannah Street, and US Route 23/441 in Clayton, follow Rickman Drive East. In 0.5 miles, bear diagonally right onto Warwoman Road. Follow Warwoman Road for 8.6 miles. Then, turn left onto Sarahs Creek Road (FS Road 156) and continue for 2.1 miles past the Sarahs Creek Campground and across a bridge over Sarahs Creek. The road begins paved but turns into a well-maintained gravel road. Right after the bridge, turn left onto Wilson Gap Road (FS Road 155) and continue for another 0.3 miles. In a small gap, the more rustic FS Road 155C leaves to the left. Turn left onto this road, which is still easily passable by most passenger vehicles, and continue to its end in 0.1 miles at a gate and large turnaround with plenty of parking space. Make sure to not block the gate. You will pass the signed trail to Kell Cemetery along the drive on FS 155C.
Click here to download a track of this hike.
Rabun County is a hotspot for waterfalls in Georgia, both in terms of quantity and beauty. Previously undocumented waterfalls are still being discovered in this area on remote streams shrouded by impenetrable rhododendron thickets. The waterfalls on Sarahs Creek are both recent finds by Alan Cressler (upper falls) and Bernie Boyer (lower falls), Fortunately, access to both waterfalls involves very little bushwhacking and is relatively easy for casual hikers who are searching for new remote waterfalls.
The hike begins at the end of drivable Forest Road 155C. Walk around the gate and follow the grassy forest road southeastward toward Sarahs Creek, descending gently. About 0.2 miles from the trailhead, you will need to leave the forest road and bear right on a faint and narrow path that begins descending more steeply, initially paralleling the main forest road. Note that if you reach the large wildlife clearing at the end of the main forest road, you have gone too far and missed the intersection. The turn-off is very easy to miss until a more distinct path is formed. Once on the path, you will descend moderately along a ridge that extends southward along Sarahs Creek. At about 0.3 miles, you will hear a big roar in Sarahs Creek below, and you will possibly see Upper Sarahs Creek Falls on the far left through the trees. This is a good place to turn left, leaving the path and bushwhacking down the slope toward Sarahs Creek. The woods are fairly open so progress is quite easy along the route of least resistance to Sarahs Creek. There is a semblance of a path closer to the creek. At 0.4 miles, reach Sarahs Creek. From here, the easiest and best way to get to Upper Sarahs Creek Falls is to follow the creekbed, which does involve getting wet. Begin hiking along Sarahs Creek upstream, staying in and out of water that is up to knee-deep. About 100 feet from the beginning of the creek-walk, walk around a cascade on nearly flat rocks to the right. About 200 feet from the beginning of the creek-walk, there is another cascade that presents a slightly more challenging obstacle. First, scramble up the rocks on the left side, and then walk to the right, wading in the main creek channel above the cascade. Shortly after this, at 0.45 miles, reach a view of Upper Sarahs Creek Falls in front of a deep pool.
Upper Sarahs Creek Falls, while not an impressive waterfall by itself, has one of the more intriguing settings I've seen at any waterfall in Georgia. A tall sheer cliff, blanketed by grasses, moss, and ivy, lines the left side of Sarahs Creek at the falls, and the creek itself gets squeezed into a surprisingly narrow passage.
Upper Sarahs Creek Falls by itself is just an average waterfall. The falls is about 40 feet high, although I am convinced that there is more falling water hidden around the bend that the creek makes. The waterfall consists of a free-fall drop of approximately 20 feet followed by a broad slide of the same height. The setting around Upper Sarahs Creek Falls is unique and really spices up the waterfall itself however. A long and tall sheer cliff - blanketed by grasses, ivy, and moss - stretches along the left side of the creek, starting from the beginning of the pool below the falls all the way to the top of the falls. A jumble of boulders lies at the far end of the pool and separates twin channels of the creek just below the falls. The top of the biggest (narrow) boulder in front of the falls provides a closer view of the falls, but getting to it is tricky due to the deepness of the water in the pool, which was above my waist. I can confirm that I tripped over an underwater log in the pool in the process of getting to the boulder and got immersed nearly up to my shoulders.
From Upper Sarahs Creek Falls, return along the same way back to the "trail" that follows the spine of the ridge parallel to Sarahs Creek. Turn left onto the faint path and continue following it steeply down the ridge. You may find some flagging tape that helps to reaffirm the correct route. As the trail gets closer to Lower Sarahs Creek Falls, it actually becomes more distinct and exhibits signs of usage. At 0.7 miles, there is a semi-open area to the left that provides a good overlook of Lower Sarahs Creek Falls. The full waterfall is around 70 feet high, but from the base, you will only be able to see the lower half. If the tree (fallen directly across the waterfall) is still there, it will serve as a good indicator of how much of the falls is visible from the base. Thus, the overlook provides a unique view in the sense that you can see the full run of the waterfall from it. From the overlook, continue following the path, which becomes very steep before ending at Sarahs Creek. For the final 100 feet, it is necessary to walk in the creekbed upstream to the falls from here, although depending on the water level, you may be able to stay dry. When all of the rocks are underwater, they become very slippery, so proceed with caution. Reach Lower Sarahs Creek Falls at 0.75 miles. A broad rock slab on the left side of the creek provides a safe and dry viewing location for the waterfall.
From the viewing area at the base of Lower Sarahs Creek Falls, you'll be surprised that only about 35 feet of the waterfall - the section below the fallen tree - is in the view. Nevertheless, this is a gorgeous and powerful waterfall. Sarahs Creek forms a dense curtain of white as it spills over the sheer ledge that forms the lower part of the falls, and during normal water levels, a separate ribbon of falling water forms to the left of the main flow channel. All around the falls are rock outcrops and slopes covered in lush green vegetation. You will notice that despite its short length, this hike took me two and a half hours complete. Part of the reason is that my hiking partners and I spent at least 30 minutes on photography at each waterfall.
From Lower Sarahs Creek Falls, simply retrace your steps back along the trail and forest road to the trailhead, concluding the hike at 1.2 miles having viewed two great waterfalls without expanding much effort. The climb up to the forest road is reasonably steep, so take your time.
0.0 - FS 155C Trailhead
0.45 - Upper Sarahs Creek Falls
0.75 - Lower Sarahs Creek Falls
1.2 - FS 155C Trailhead
Hike out and back to just Upper Sarahs Creek Falls - 0.9 Miles
Hike out and back to just Lower Sarahs Creek Falls - 0.9 Miles
Along the way on FS 155C to the trailhead, you will pass the signed trail to Kell Cemetery. This short trail is worth a quick stop before or after the Sarahs Creek hike. The 5-minute trail leads to a large and old cemetery at the top of a knoll. There are only two inscribed stones in the cemetery, which has over 50 graves altogether. Both of the inscribed stones have dates from the 1800s. I have added a few photos of the walk to the cemetery in the gallery below.
Mark Oleg Ozboyd
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