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Desoto Falls Trail
Georgia Trails

Trail Length: 2.4 miles Type of trail: In and out
County: Lumpkin County, GA Our rating: E
Features: waterfalls, stream, picnicking, historic, fishing, family, camping, bathrooms, 60hikes Your rating:
Usage: Medium Added on: January 01, 1995
Last hiked: January 08, 2016 Updated on: January 10, 2016
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Additional Trails
Hiking trails in Lumpkin County, GA

Directions to Desoto Falls Trail

History of Desoto Falls

A sign at the trailhead explains the name is based on the discovery of a plate of armor in the 1880's, about the time lumber companies began over-foresting the area. Until 1983 scholars mocked the idea of finding a breastplate intact after 300 years, until an intact sword from deSoto's expedition was found on the King site near Rome, Georgia. Men under Hernando deSoto are known to have been in this mountainous area in 1541.

Desoto Falls
We have been hiking deSoto Falls Trail since the early 1980's, when the hike extended to a third falls on a tributary to Frogtown Creek. "The Storm of the Century" a snowstorm that occurred in the Easter United States in March, 1993, a super-cell of tornadoes generally called "The Palm Sunday Killer Tornadoes" and Hurricane Opal in 1995 created serious problems at the former upper end of the trail. The Forest Service now has the old trail marked as being under natural restoration, so highest falls are unreachable and it appears they will not be reopened.

All three falls are on tributaries to Frogtown Creek, which begins near Mountain Crossings at Walasi-yi in Neel's Gap. The original name, Frogtown Gap, was eliminated by the state of Georgia to honor the engineer who map out the route through the gap for Highway 129, replacing the antiquated Logan Turnpike. The Cherokee believed that a great frog, Walasi (or Walesi) guarded Blood Mountain, which the Cherokee considered to be holy.

Desoto Falls Trail Narrative

Water flow over either falls is heaviest in the spring, especially after a rainstorm. This, combined with some wildflowers and lots of rhododendron, makes this a good hike from mid-April to late May. From the brown-roofed kiosk in the parking lot, the gravel-covered trail drops as it curves left, quickly swinging back to the right through an area of picnic tables, some with grills. On the left is Frogtown Creek, a clear mountain stream with some scenic riverbank views in between waxy-leaf dog hobble. About 0.1 mile into the trail the path turns left on a paved road that curves around to the right with a bridge crossing Frogtown Creek on the left at the campground host site.

Lower Desoto Falls
After crossing the wooden structure with hand rails, the trail splits at a sign describing the origin of the name. Turn left and begin a .25 mile, easy-to-moderate switched-back climb to the Lower Falls. After a large rock outcrop the trail turns right and climbs the final 50 feet to a viewing platform almost directly underneath the falls, which combines free-falling water and steep cascades to careen some 35 feet into a small pool. Although they cannot be seen, the river continues to cascade sharply down the mountain after the falls. Retrace your steps to the bridge.

Continue straight on what was once an old logging road as it meanders through a wide floodplain of the river, which is on the right. After a tributary joins Frogtown Creek on the right side, the path begins the first of three easy climbs as the trail begins to "roll" in a manner similar to the AT in Virginia. Massive stands of rhododendron cover the path at times, and the occasionally visible waterway continues to make a pleasing gurgle throughout the hike.

Just over 1.4 miles into the hike the trail crosses a bridge and you can see the falls on the left. Stepping off the bridge the Forest Service sign that indicates the trail to the upper falls is closed is straight ahead. Turn left and make the easy ascent to the viewing deck. The falls begin as a straight drop from the center of a ledge, three times hitting ledges which only briefly slow the inevitable trip to a small clear pond at the bottom. After viewing the falls, retrace your steps to the car.


Pages related to Desoto Falls Trail
Desoto Falls Trail
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Georgia Hikes
Your guide to hiking and walking trails in the state of Georgia

Article Links
Hernando deSoto
Mountain Crossings at Walasi-yi

Georgia Trails
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