12 Incredible Waterfalls Near Helen, Georgia

Looking for the best waterfalls near Helen, Georgia? Read on for 12 of my favorites!

A small waterfall trickling down many staircases of rock into a small stream

Tucked away in the rolling hills of North Georgia, just a stone’s throw from the charming Alpine village of Helen, lies a treasure trove of waterfalls waiting to be discovered. This region of North Georgia, where the Blue Ridge Mountains start, is home to literally hundreds of waterfalls, nestled within forested hills and valleys.

From the gentle cascades of Minnehaha Falls, to the awe-inspiring rush of Amicalola Falls, to the swimming hole at Blue Hole Falls, there are so many beautiful waterfalls near Helen!

I live very close to this region in Georgia- I’ve visited three times in the past year alone – and I really think the North Georgia mountains are such a hidden gem in the United States. There are tons of incredible things to do in North Georgia!

12 Favorite Waterfalls Near Helen, Georgia

In this post, I’m sharing 12 of my favorite waterfalls that can be found within 1 hour of the town of Helen. These waterfalls are listed in order of closeness to town (in driving time).

Quick Tip: If you’re planning a Southern US road trip, I recommend reserving a rental car ASAP for the best prices and availability. I always book my car with this rental car aggregate site to find the best deals.

1. Dukes Creek Falls

Two waterfalls combine into one waterfall going down steep rock structures. There is a wooden staircase leading to the overlook.

Located right off of Richard B Russell Scenic Highway, this pleasant trail has a wide, level path that often follows the babbling stream.

A large wooden viewing platform awaits you at the base of the falls. The sight is impressive—there are actually two streams, Duke’s Creek and Dodd’s Creek, that meet and converge at the falls. The first waterfall is quite tall and cascades over multiple ledges in the trees.

The second fall isn’t as high but has a nice, smooth flow over several ridges. The combination of these two falls together makes a really lovely view!

  • Cost: Day Use Pass is $4, or National Parks Pass
  • Hiking Distance: 3 miles round trip
  • Distance from Helen: 5 miles, 9 minutes

2. Anna Ruby Falls

A large waterfall with two white water waterfalls coming down steep rocks into a pool with a wooden overlook to the other side.

Anna Ruby Falls is definitely the most well-known waterfall near Helen, and it’s popular for good reason: a beautiful trail runs leads to an incredible double waterfall.

The walk is short and on a paved path that weaves along the stream. There’s some incline in places, but it’s not bad – I’ve seen many kids manage it just fine.

Your destination is two tall, spectacular waterfalls that plunge right next to each other down the cliff; and then converge at the pool at the base of the falls. There’s a viewing platform right next to the falls and another one a little farther back – I actually preferred the farther view more.

To get to the trailhead, you’ll pass through Unicoi State Park, although the falls aren’t part of the state park itself. Heads up, it’s a popular trail, so expect to share the trail with many other hikers.

  • Hours: 9am-4pm. Last entrance is at 3pm
  • Cost: $5 per person over 16 years old. Since Anna Ruby Falls is part of the National Park Service, you can get free entrance with a National Parks Pass.
  • Hiking Distance: 0.9 miles round trip
  • Distance from Helen: 5 miles, 15 minutes

3-4. Blue Hole Falls and High Shoal Falls

A smaller waterfall with streams going down sharp rocks into a deep pool with a large tree branch in it and a rock ledge half submerged in water.

While the drive to arrive at these falls is quite bumpy to say the least, the payoff at the waterfalls is worth it!

To get to the trailhead, you have to drive up a very bumpy, gravel road and cross a shallow stream. Our minivan made it okay, but you do have to go slow and after rain you would want a high-clearance vehicle.

The trail to the falls occasionally follows the stream, and you’ll cross a bridge or two as you hike to the two different waterfalls. After one mile, you’ll arrive at Blue Hole Falls, which is probably one of our top 3 favorite falls on this list.

Here, a short stream of water drops into a calm pool of water that’s deep enough (and calm enough) for swimming.

Four girls stand in the pool of water underneath the waterfall cascading down the rocks.

Our kids loved playing in the water here, which was cool and refreshing in the summer humidity and heat. The water is deeper right under the falls, but along the edge was only around 3 feet deep.

Another 0.3 miles past Blue Hole Falls is High Shoals Falls. There is a wooden viewing platform, but you can easily walk down on the big boulders near the stream and base of the falls. 

A tall waterfall cascading down rocks with trees on each side.

There are a few sections that are fairly steep as you are coming back from the falls, but I’d still classify this as an easy hike overall.

  • Cost: None
  • Hiking Distance: 2.6 miles roundtrip
  • Distance from Helen: 12 miles, 24 minutes (put in directions for High Shoal Falls, not Blue Hole Falls)

5. De Soto Falls

Tiny streams of water coming down a few rock ledges on the edge of a sandy path.
Upper Falls

De Soto Falls is actually made up of an Upper Falls and a Lower Falls, which are on two ends of a forked path. It’s about 1.5 miles round trip to the Upper Falls, and 0.5 miles round trip to the Lower Falls.

A waterfall with small streams of water going over three distinct ledges.
Lower Falls

The upper falls are indubitably the better falls, as water drops over three distinct ledges. When we went at the end of a very dry summer, the water level was pretty low, but spring will likely have a higher water flow.

De Soto Falls is located in the De Soto Falls Recreation Area, which has several camping areas and hiking trails.

  • Cost: $5 or a National Parks Pass
  • Hiking Distance: 2 miles round trip to both falls
  • Distance from Helen: 20 miles, 29 minutes

6. Trahlyta Falls

A large waterfall with lots of water cascading down a large rock formation and the water collecting at the bottom.

Trahlyta Falls is located in Vogel State Park, which is a lovely area to spend a warm-weather weekend. The majority of the park centers around Trahlyta Lake, which has a walking trail around it, a beach area, and the opportunity to take out canoes or kayaks.

A oval lake with forest all around the edges and green mountains in the background.

The waterfall is located off of a very short spur trail on the opposite side of the lake from the beach. After just 5 minutes on the spur trail, you’ll reach the wooden viewing platform right at the base of the falls, where multiple streams of water cascade over multiple rock ledges.

A waterfall with lots of different streams coming down a tall rock formation with tree coming over into the water and a wooden staircase leading to a outlook at the waterfall.

Just below the viewing platform is an area where you can wade in the stream. Alternatively, there’s also a great view of the waterfall from the main road, right before the entrance to the park (you can find the location here).

  • Cost: $5 per vehicle or Georgia State Parks pass
  • Total Distance: 1/3 mile round trip
  • Distance from Helen: 21 miles, 34 minutes

7. Helton Creek Falls

A woman sits at the base of a waterfall with white water coming down a sloped rock with an outlook at the top of the waterfall.

After a quick and easy walk down a dirt path and some log steps, you’ll arrive at Helton Falls. There are two different falls to check out – the first one gently cascades against a rock ledge into a shallow pool of water. You could definitely wade in here when it’s warm out.

Just another 20 yards farther is the second waterfall. This one is much taller and is set back a bit from the viewpoint, so no wading here, but the view is very charming.

A half hidden blue waterfall with large amounts of water going down two ledges into a small pool of water.

  • Cost: None
  • Hiking Distance: 0.3 miles round trip
  • Distance from Helen: 16 miles, 34 minutes

8-10: Tempesta, Hurricane, and Bridal Veil Falls at Tallulah Gorge State Park

Tallulah Gorge State Park has one of the most epic landscapes in the state – a river with five waterfalls cuts through a 1000 foot deep gorge, making you feel like you’re in a small mountain valley.

The view looking down at a small waterfall cascading down three ledges into a large pool with the trees surrounding the waterfall
Tempesta Falls

There are several trails in the Tallulah Gorge State Park, but I’d recommend doing the North Rim Trail to Overlook 2, where you can admire the Tempesta Falls from above.

Then, take the spur trail down a long set of staircases, cross the suspension bridge (more epic views!), and continue all the way to the base of the canyon, where you can admire Hurricane Falls.

A fast moving waterfall with sheets of water coming down a rock wall into a pool. This is one of the best waterfalls in Helen.
Hurricane Falls

There is a path that continues along the gorge floor starting at Hurricane Falls, but to hike the Tallulah Gorge Floor Trail, you’ll need to obtain a permit from the Interpretive Center (100 permits are given out daily). If you get a permit, you can continue exploring the gorge floor and end up at Bridal Veil Falls!

A waterfall at the edge going into a large pool and small river with mountains in the background.
Bridal Veil Falls

This waterfall is particularly fun because it just slides down a smooth sheet of rock, ending in a calm, naturally dammed up pool of water. If the weather is nice, you can actually slide down the waterfall into the pool!

  • Hours: 8am-5pm
  • Cost: $5 parking fee, or the Georgia State Pass
  • Hike Difficulty: Easy to very difficult, depending on what hikes you do
  • Distance from Helen: 28 miles, 36 minutes

11. Minnehaha Falls

A small waterfall trickling down many staircases of rock into a small stream

Minnehaha Falls is a charming little waterfall that’s just a quick hike away from the scenic Lake Rabun. The waterfall cascades over layers of shale rocks, then keeps flowing down into a creek that heads out toward the lake.

At the bottom of the falls, there’s room to roam on the rocks and follow the stream for a stretch. It’s a popular spot for picnics, too – with flat rocks to sit on and the soft sound of the stream, it’s a sweet place to lay down a blanket and enjoy a bite outdoors

  • Cost: No entrance fee
  • Hiking Distance: 0.5 miles round trip
  • Distance from Helen: 23 miles, 39 minutes

12. Amicalola Falls

A large staircase leading up the overlook  that showcases the blue waterfall cascading down the rocks.

Amicalola Falls is a bucket list spot in North Georgia – at over 700 feet tall (!!!), it’s the tallest waterfall in Georgia and the third tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi.

Part of what makes it so gorgeous is there are many different drops and cascades as it descends into the valley.

Amicalola Falls is located in Amicalola Falls State Park, and there are multiple trails in the park that lead to the falls. I’d recommend doing the Creek Trail, which follows the creek, passes a reflection pool, and ends at the base of the falls.

Photos really just can’t capture how impressive this waterfall is. The sheer size and scale of the falls was breathtaking!

At the bottom of the falls, start climbing the staircase with 175 steps that lead to a bridge in front of the falls.

A woman looks out at the waterfall with white water going down a mountain with a woman looking out at the waterfall on a wooden ledge.

If you’re feeling up to it, you can climb another 255 stairs to the top of the falls.

It’s definitely a bit of a workout, but totally worth it for the incredible views. (Thankfully, there are 14 different rest points along the staircase to take a break if/when you need it. )

If the full stair workout seems like a bit much, just stop at the halfway bridge. Personally, I think the views at the top aren’t as good as the views from below.

A waterfall continuing down the side of the mountain with different streams going over different amounts of rocks.

The Appalachian Approach Trail starts at the top of Amicalola Falls. There is parking at the top of the falls, but I do think you get a better experience going from the bottom to the top.

  • Cost: $5 per vehicle, or a Georgia State Pass
  • Hiking Distance: 2 miles round trip
  • Distance from Helen: 46 miles, 1 hour

Waterfalls in North Georgia – The Wrap Up

North Georgia is an absolutely beautiful area, with mountains, valleys, and lush forests. But amidst that, the feeling that around every corner is a new discovery adds to how special it is, and these waterfalls are among the best of those hidden gems.

From small but delightful, to tall and powerful, you’ll find a variety of great waterfalls in North Georgia as you explore!

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