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Georgia Hikes: DeSoto Falls Trail

Located in the Chattahoochee National Forest, the Upper and Lower DeSoto Falls waterfalls are stunning scenery on a short hike. Hike the approximately 2 mile DeSoto Falls Trail for incredible waterfall views.

Take this short and easy hike to see two beautiful waterfalls in the Chattahoochee National Forest near Dahlonega.

Upper DeSoto Falls, Dahlonega, Georgia

DeSoto Falls Recreation Area

The DeSoto Falls Recreation Area is located just a few miles north of Dahlonega. They offer a scenic campground, trout fishing along Frogtown Creek, and a quick hike along the DeSoto Falls Trail to two beautiful waterfalls.

Local legend says that Spanish armor belonging to Hernando De Soto was found near the area, leading many to believe that his expedition passed through here in 1540 on their way to find gold.

DeSoto Falls Trail

The popular DeSoto Falls Trail begins at the lower loop of the DeSoto Falls Recreation Area campground. Parking is available for day hikers, and there is just a $5 per vehicle parking fee.

Well-marked signs will lead you from the parking lot, through a picnic area, and around the edge of the campground to the bridge at the start of the trail.

Frogtown Creek at DeSoto Falls Recreation Area

Across the bridge, the trail branches into the Upper DeSoto Falls Trail and the Lower DeSoto Falls Trail. The Upper Falls are 0.75 miles upstream and the Lower Falls are 0.25 miles downstream. While the Lower Falls trail is shorter, it contains switchbacks that quickly climb in elevation. Meanwhile, the longer Upper Falls trail has a more gradual climb.

It doesn’t matter which direction you start with. We chose the Upper Falls first.

Upper DeSoto Falls

The trail to the Upper DeSoto Falls turns right after the bridge. It follows along the banks of Frogtown Creek upstream, offering views of the shaded forest to one side and the campground across the creek to the other.

DeSoto Falls Recreation Area Campgrounds

Past the campground, the trail begins its gradual climb to the Upper Falls. You’ll cross over a wooden bridge spanning another small creek and you’ll begin to glimpse the waterfall through the trees.

At about 0.75 miles, the trail reaches a wooden viewing platform where you can sit and enjoy the tall, cascading Upper DeSoto Falls. The viewing platform’s seating offers the perfect spot for a picnic as you admire the waterfall.

Upper DeSoto Falls

The trail departs the waterfall, retracing its way back to the trailhead bridge at about 1.5 miles.

Lower DeSoto Falls

The trail to the Lower DeSoto Falls continues left after the trailhead bridge. It follows along the creek heading southbound before veering and climbing in elevation through a series of switchbacks.

Lower DeSoto Falls Trail Switchbacks

At about 1.75 miles, the trail reaches a small viewing platform where you can sit and admire the Lower DeSoto Falls as it cascades down the rocks.

Lower DeSoto Falls

To complete the hike, retrace your steps back down the Lower Falls trail, across the bridge, and back to the parking lot for an approximately 2 mile hike.

Hiking Essentials

Come prepared for your hike by making sure you pack the essentials. Check out this must-have hiking gear before you set off on the trails:

More North Georgia Hikes

Looking for more great hiking trails near DeSoto Falls? Check out these other North Georgia hikes:

Ready to visit Dahlonega, Georgia? Plan your trip with these tips.



Georgia Hikes: DeSoto Falls Trail

Have you hiked the DeSoto Falls Trail near Dahlonega, Georgia? Let me know in the comments below!

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  1. Great description of the hike! Seems like a good trail if you’re looking for something that’s not too strenuous but has fantastic views. Love a good waterfall

    1. The hike is definitely pretty quick and easy, and that was exactly what we were looking for. And the falls were beautiful!

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