This blog post is part of “YOUR COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE NORTH GEORGIA OUTDOORS” blog series.
Helen, Georgia's attractions are countless. From the German-style shops in town to the scenic Georgia mountains, there is never a shortage of things to do.
The area is also the perfect setting for seeing stunning waterfalls, one of nature's most beautiful wonders.
Enjoy this fun video of nature photos from the beautiful Raven Cliff Falls area in the north Georgia Mountains near the Bavarian town of Helen.
Photo Credit, Award-Winning Photographer Bonnie Morét
With so many beautiful trails in the Helen, Georgia area, it’s not a surprise that hiking in the north Georgia Mountains is a favorite activity for many of our guests. One of the most interesting hikes, Raven Cliff Falls, is a short ride from most of Cedar Creek Cabin Rentals’ properties. In the above photo, Atlanta-based photographer Bonnie Morét captures the drama of one of the stunning waterfalls along the Raven Cliff Falls trail.
The Raven Cliff Falls trail is considered a moderate hike due to the final leg of the trail where the elevation substantially increases as you climb the last 600 feet. The increase is in short spurts so even a beginner could manage the climb without much effort. The trail is about five miles and the falls come into view around the 2.5-mile mark. When you reach the source of the falls you’ll be greeted by a breathtaking cascade of water that flows through a split in solid granite rock. It’s magnificent!
Raven Cliff Falls, along with three other impressive waterfalls that cascade into Dodd Creek, has made the creek one of the most beautiful in all of Georgia. To help ensure you enjoy your hike in the picturesque North Georgia mountains we reached out to a couple of friends for some of their top hiking tips.
Hiking Tips for Raven Cliff Falls
The following suggestions are from our friend Lori, who has made hiking a year-round family activity. We've also added specific information to make your Raven Cliff Falls hike more fun and safe.
1. Research the trail before you go. There are many sites that rate trails (easy, moderate, and difficult) and offer details of what to see along the paths. We link to several resources at the end of the post.
Raven Cliff Falls Trail Information – This is a moderate-rated trail located in the Raven Cliffs Wilderness of Chattahoochee National Forest. The trail is about 2.5 miles in and so it's approximately 5.0 miles in and out. The trail is well marked with blue blazers making it simple even for a novice hiker to follow and not get lost.
As you get closer to Raven Cliff Falls the trail gets a little steeper taking it from an easy to a moderate rating. The trailhead elevation begins at about 3,000 feet and the top elevation goes to 3,856 feet.
There is no fee to hike the trail and it’s open year-round. Since Raven Cliff Falls is a favorite of hikers, especially during the summer and into the fall, expect the trails to be more crowded at those times.
2. Before you hike, consider distance if the trail is a loop or one-way, difficulty, elevation covered, and features (waterfalls, vistas, flora, and fauna). Don’t forget to check for bathrooms and the closest parking lots.
Raven Cliff Falls Trail Information – This "in and out" or sometimes called an "out and back" trail follows Dodd Creek. As you walk deeper into the forest you’ll see more waterfalls on your way to the spectacular Raven Cliff Falls. These additional waterfalls are about half a mile apart from each other.
On your hike, look for beautiful wildflowers including mountain laurel and rhododendron, trout swimming in the stream, and perhaps a black bear! Needless to say, spring and summer are the best seasons to see wildflowers. During the fall you’ll enjoy the famous north Georgia foliage. In the winter months when the trees are bare of leaves you can view more of Dodd Creek from the trail.
As you hike further into the forest there are primitive campsites. You might also enjoy watching people fishing for trout in Dodd Creek.
Parking is located at the trailhead across the street from the trail. However, the gravel lot accommodates only about 25 vehicles, so during popular hiking months, you might want to plan accordingly. The Raven Cliff Falls parking lot also includes garbage cans, a vault toilet, picnic tables, information about the trail and the area. You can also bring your dogs, but please keep them on leash.
3. Some trails are ‘mixed use’ – where hikers share the trails with mountain bikers and horses. If you’re looking for a walk to connect with nature, you may want to avoid these trails.
Raven Cliff Falls Trail Information – You don’t have to be concerned about sharing your hike with people riding mountain bikes or horses. Although dogs are welcome, Raven Cliff Falls Trail is for people-hiking only.
4. Dress for the hike and the weather – Be sure to lather up with sunscreen before heading out, keeping in mind that the sun can still peek through the trees.
Raven Cliff Falls Trail Information – Although hardwoods make up this special trail the sun’s rays can be dangerous especially to children and those with sensitive skin. It is suggested that you apply sunscreen. If you go swimming or fishing in Dodd Creek remember to reapply the sunscreen or use a brand that is waterproof or ‘sweatproof.’ The Mayo Clinic has a good article that describes sunscreen options.
5. Shoes – Sneakers at the very least. Depending on the trail terrain, length of the trail, features, elevation, and of course the time of year, hiking boots are your best option. Flip flops are a dead giveaway that you’re a ‘tourist,’ and they can be dangerous to your feet!
Raven Cliff Falls Trail Information – This trail gets muddy, especially after rain. Also, there are lots of places where there are wooden footbridges or stepping stones that cross Dodd Creek and small feeder streams. Hiking shoes and or waterproof shoes are recommended.
6. Dress in layers so you can take off or put on as the weather dictates.
Raven Cliff Falls Trail Information – Summer is a popular time to hike the Raven Cliff Falls Trail. The good news is the tall trees and breeze from Dodd Creek may lower the temperature of a hot summer day. For those especially sensitive to change in weather a light sweater or jacket might be appropriate. During cooler days, dressing in layers is the best way to go.
7. Bring a hat and a waterproof windbreaker “just in case” you get caught in a shower.
Raven Cliff Falls Trail Information – It’s been said that the weather in Georgia is quick to change. Check the weather app on your smartphone or listen to the local weather reports. If in doubt, a slicker with a hood can easily fit in your day pack!
Hiking With Kids at Raven Cliff Falls
Taking your kid's hiking can be a great family activity. Keep in mind that a hike is different from a walk in your neighborhood and it’s a wonderful way to build family memories.
1. Encourage your kid to take an active role in planning the hike
Raven Cliff Trail Information – The trail has several waterfalls in addition to the final destination of Raven Cliff Falls. Talk to your kids about stopping at the secondary waterfalls. Perhaps you might want to spend time at these other falls on the way out instead of on the way in. Let the kids decide.
2. Be conservative in your expectations
Raven Cliff Trail Information – There are lots to see along the trail from wildflowers to fun, wooden footbridges. What may interest children may not be the same for adults. Encourage your kids to talk about what they like and think is cool... before, during, and after your hike.3. Pace your hike to your kid’s timing
Raven Cliff Trail Information – Total in and out time for the trail is estimated to take about 3-hours. However, with little ones along the time might be more or less for your family.
4. Start with short easy hikes and build to longer ones
Raven Cliff Trail Information – This trail begins with an easy rating and ends in a moderate rating. This trail is very popular with families and a good introduction to hiking especially for kids who have not experienced a traditional hike.
5. Definitely remember the snacks!
Raven Cliff Trail Information – Although you’re walking alongside Dodd Creek and on your way to a very special waterfall, including drinkable water for everyone on your hike. Little ones especially get thirsty! Snack time is a good time to take a rest. Remember: whatever you bring into the trail you must take out.
6. Be prepared to stop to watch fish and turtles in the creeks and rivers
Raven Cliff Trail Information – Little children might be tempted to stop to play in the streams. In some places, the embankment might be steep and/or slippery. We know you'll take extra precautions when it comes to ensuring the kids are safe when they explore side trails.
7. Play games along the way e.g. scavenger hikes, count animals, look for funny twigs
Raven Cliff Trail Information – Little children love to sing. Listen to the sounds from Dodd Creek and Raven Cliff Falls and make up silly songs with your kids. Not only is it fun, but it's also something to remember your special family time that you can sing on the way back home.
8. Invite a friend along
Raven Cliff Trail Information – The experience of a hike in the forest and especially seeing Raven Cliff Falls is magical to share with special friends.
Your Day Pack at Raven Cliff Falls
Even a short day trip is a little more pleasant with a few extras. Here are a few ideas that don’t take much room and are light to carry.
- Lots of water
- A towel especially if you plan to splash in the waterfalls
- Bug spray
- A small first aid kit
- Small bags to pack it in and pack it back out
- Bring your camera and be ready to be captivated by this brilliant waterfall
Below is our favorite tip from Mary.
Take lots of photos and tag #CedarCreekCabinRental on Instagram, mention @cedarcreekcabin on Twitter, and drop a photo on our Facebook page!
Georgia Hiking Resources
Hiking In Helen Georgia, By Cedar Creek Cabin Rentals
Directions to Raven Cliff Falls
The drive to Raven Cliff Falls trailhead from Cedar Creek Cabins is only 7.5 miles from Helen. Take Zeppelin Strasse southwest and turn left on Brucken Strasse. Once you reach Edelweiss make another left and this will take you to GA State Route 75. From there, head west until you get to GA-75, where you will make another left. This will lead you to Richard Russell Scenic Highway. Make a right there, and follow this highway for almost 4 miles to the Raven Cliff Falls trailhead, which will be on your right. Parking is plentiful, although it tends to be easier to score a primo spot during the morning hours, so early-risers may want to hit the trail early.
Click Here for Directions to Raven Cliff Falls from Helen
Like Romantic Stories?
Hiking at Raven Cliff Falls with your friends and loved ones makes our life journey better. What if you could make it even more meaningful? One couple we know did. It involved a memento from Taco Bell! Meet Brea and Will and share their dream come true story!
This blog post is part of “YOUR COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE NORTH GEORGIA OUTDOORS” blog series.Topics: Helen Georgia, Kids, Family Vacations, Things To Do, North Georgia, Nature, The Outdoors, Waterfalls, Hiking & Trails