DeSoto Falls Scenic Area

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If you’d like to view two waterfalls, and take a peaceful walk through the woods, pull off at DeSoto Falls. DeSoto Falls Scenic Area is located on US Highway 19, about 14 miles north of Dahlonega, Georgia, and 22 miles south of Blairsville.

As soon as you set out from the trailhead at De Soto Falls, you have a choice: a shorter path (1/4 mile) leads to the lower falls, while a longer path (3/4 mile) leads to the upper falls.  I chose to head towards the lower falls.

While other nearby waterfalls like Amicalola are managed by Georgia’s state parks system, deSoto Falls Scenic Area is managed by the US Forest Service.  You’ll need to drop $3 in a self-pay envelope as you enter the parking area.  If you have a Golden Eagle Passport card, National Parks Pass with hologram sticker, or Golden Access/Age card, the charge is only $1.50.

The lower falls were merely a trickle during my visit–something I’m sure would change after a heavy rain.  Reaching the falls is relatively easy, although this is about as close as you can get.  Unfortunately, there’s no place to stand where some tree limbs aren’t partially blocking the view.

De Soto Falls received its name from a local legend, that said explorers found a piece of armor near the falls.  The legend says the armor belonged to either Hernando de Soto, or one of his men.  De Soto explored the southern Appalachian mountains in 1540, pillaging Native American villages as he went.

I briefly considered taking the longer trail as well, but decided against it, since it was starting to get late in the day.  From what I’ve heard, the upper falls are taller and more impressive.  I’ve also read that there is a third set of falls, but the access trail has been closed.  I can’t confirm that, since I only visited the lower falls.

No matter which trail you take, you’ll enjoy scenes like this.  It’s easy to lose yourself in the woods here, without actually getting lost.

Don’t forget to look straight up, and take in the dense foliage above.

By the late afternoon, light was streaming into the forest only in a few patches.

Note: This trip was first published in 2006.

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