Vogel State Park and Campground
Our first stop was Vogel State Park and Campground. This is a jewel of a park located on the edge of the Chattahoochee National Forest. The park covers 233 acres with a large lake, rustic log cabins, cottages, lake with beach, multiple playgrounds, and so much more. We didn’t stay at the campground, but we drove through and the video below shows the many of the campers and loops. For the length of our 5th wheel, it’s just too tight to attempt a stay, but if your RV is in the low 30 foot range, there are ample camping spots that are perfect for up to a 14 day stay.
But we came for the waterfall. At the north end of the Park, the lake spills into a fantastic waterfall. An easy walk along a short trail from the dam and you are treated to a stunning site. There’s no access to walk near the water, but an observation deck is located near the bottom of the falls. This spot is perfect for pictures or just sit and take in the scene without risking a tumble along the rocks.
Helton Creek Falls
Helton Creek Falls is located a few miles south of Vogel State Park. The drive to the falls is part of the adventure itself. The road from Highway 19 starts as paved and quickly becomes a very narrow and very bumpy two mile drive. Driving a dually ton truck added to the challenge with single lanes around curves and limited pull-overs for passing traffic. This shouldn’t detour you from going to the falls. Everyone we met along the drive understood the challenge and met us with a smile – just take your time, be careful and enjoy the view.
Arriving at Helton Creek Falls, we were greeted by the sounds of falling water from the road. A very easy and short walk took us to the base of the two waterfalls. For the middle of a summer week, there were a number of people enjoying the water, sliding along the rocks and swimming in the natural pools. It’s easy to walk to the base of the lower falls, wade in the creek and take pictures. The upper falls are several hundred feet tall with a substantial water flow providing a stunning show down the rocks. The upper falls has a large natural pool at the bottom and we found about a dozen folks swimming and enjoying the ledges along the falls.
Walasi-Yi Center and Mountain Store
Continuing south along Highway 19, we stopped at the top of the mountain range at Neel Gap. Located on the top is the Walasi-Yi Center and Mountain Store with the Appalachian Trail running through the middle of the Center. This is a nice stop along the waterfall tour to see the beautiful mountains from the observation deck and maybe even talk to a few hikers who started the 4 day AT trek from Springer Mountain.
DeSoto Falls Recreation Area
DeSoto Falls was our last stop of the day. Located 5 miles from Vogel State Park, the area offers picnic sites, camping, and hiking to the two falls. I you plan to camp, you’ll need to be in a tent or a smaller self-contained camper. The sites offer no power or dump station, a couple pit toilets are available, and water is provided by centrally located faucets in the campground. If equipped for this style of camping, the area is very nice, heavily wooded with sites along the creek. A great place to escape to during the hot summer months.
We hiked to the north falls, the larger of the two around two miles from the entrance. The trail is mostly level with a few spots offering minor hills that are not too strenuous. The trail follows the creek from the falls and offers great views along the way. For this hike, the mountain laurel was still in bloom. Although late in the season, the blooms were falling, but there flora still decorated the sides of the trails. One note, in the spring of 2018, a substantial storm struck the North Georgia Mountains. As a result, there is still visible damage seen along the trails and the falls. Great efforts have been made to restore the observation deck, make the trails accessible, but many of the fallen trees can still be seen. This in no way should deter a day hiker from enjoying the trails or the falls.
These are but a few of the many beautiful North Georgia waterfalls located in this area. Vogel State Park, Helton Creek Falls and DeSoto Falls maybe the easiest to access, all three offering a great way to spend part of the day experiencing these wonderful North Georgia sites.
Places we visited
Vogel State Park and Campground – https://gastateparks.org/Vogel
Walasi-Yi Center and Mountain Store – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walasi-Yi_Interpretive_Center
DeSoto Falls Recreation Area – https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/conf/recreation/camping-cabins/recarea/?recid=10524&actid=29
Helton Creek Falls – https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/conf/recarea/?recid=10546
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