Hike the easy-to-moderate DeSoto Falls Trail in Lumpkin County, Georgia, to see waterfalls and other highlights.
By Tim Homan
The falls and the 650-acre scenic area got their name from mountain folklore. Early settlers – so the legend goes – found a piece of Spanish armor in the vicinity of the falls and believed it was left behind by Hernando DeSoto or one of his men as they wandered about the southeast looking for treasure.
Like several other scenic areas, DeSoto Falls combines with a National Forest Recreation Area bearing the same name. Access to the scenic area and trail is gained through the recreation area on US 129. The trail begins across the bridge over Frogtown Creek; a sign with arrows and distances to the falls marks the path.
If you hike to both waterfalls – from the trailhead (elevation 2,080 feet) to the Lower Falls, from the Lower Falls past the trailhead to the Middle Falls, then back to the trailhead – you will walk 1.9 miles.
The Lower Falls spill and splash 30 to 35 feet.
Nine-tenths mile away, the Middle Falls drop in four stages – close to 90 feet altogether. Both have large observation decks.
Note: The trail that once continued from the Middle Falls to the Upper Falls is now closed.
Lower Falls, 30 feet high. Middle Falls, 90 feet high.
DeSoto Falls Recreation and Scenic Areas are located on the west side (left if you are heading north) of US 19-129. From Turners Corner, where US 19 joins US 129, continue north on US 19-129 for slightly more than 4.0 miles to the recreation area sign and entrance.
From the Blairsville square, travel south on US 19-129 for approximately 16.5 miles to the recreation area sign and entrance.
Once inside the recreation area, follow the loop to the right (as the sign directs) past the signed trailhead to the DeSoto Falls Trail Parking Area, which is marked with a stick-figure hiker sign.
The recreation area campground is closed seasonally. A large parking area near the campground entrance is now open year-round.
This hiking guide to the Desoto Falls Trail is adapted from The Hiking Trails of North Georgia by Tim Homan and is published in cooperation with the publisher, Peachtree Publishers. With his meticulous attention to detail and accuracy, Homan has long been recognized as the authority on North Georgia hiking trail by serious hikers. His other books include Hiking Trails of Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock and Citico Creek Wilderness, Hiking the Shining Rock and Middle Prong Wilderness and others. For a complete inventory of his books see his Amazon Author Page. For an inventory of Peachtree Publishers books including its Nature books for children, go to the Peachtree Publishers website.