|Trail Length: 1.9 miles||Type of trail: In and out|
|County: White County, GA||Our rating: E|
|Features: waterfalls, scenic, handicapped, bathrooms||Your rating:|
|Usage: Medium||Added on: May 18, 1995|
|Last hiked: June 24, 2009||Updated on: December 26, 2010|
|About these ratings|
Hiking trails in White County, GA
Dukes Creek Falls Trail is a 1.9 mile round-trip hike in a series of three switchbacks that lead down to falls on Davis Creek at its confluence with Dukes Creek. There are water cascades on Dukes Creek. Originally, the trail dropped in a series of switchbacks directly from the parking lot. In 1996 the Forest Service constructed a trail to view the falls from the ridge. The end of this ADA trail now serves as the start of the switchbacks to the falls. The old trail is occasionally visible.
History is no stranger to Dukes Creek. Hernando DeSoto visited the area in 1540, and at least one of his men returned around 1560 to mine gold in the area. Spanish miners continued to visit the area until the 1730's when Georgia became a colony. There mines would be discovered during the Gold Rush.
Although frequently credited to Lumpkin County resident Benjamin Parks, mostly because he made the claim to an Atlanta Constitution reporter visiting the area in the 1880's, gold was first found in Habersham County (now White County) in 1828 to the south of the falls on Duke's Creek by a slave owned by Frank Logan.
Today the path to the creek lies along the Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway, a lovely stretch of road built in 1948 connecting (roughly) Brasstown Bald with Helen, Georgia. Then U. S. Senator Russell, who would run for President in 1952, had a good deal of input into the course of the highway and visited the road and Duke's Creek itself during construction.The scenic highway is popular on the weekends, Saturday being the busier day.
Dukes Creek is formed at the confluence of Bear Den Creek and Little Low Gap Branch. Dodd Creek forms at Raven Cliff Falls and joins Dukes Creek about a mile upstream from the falls. Shortly after the falls, Dukes Creek enters Smithgall Woods Conservation Area, bisecting the Georgia State Park. After leaving Smithgall Woods Dukes Creek passes under Georgia State Road 75 and becomes a tributary of the Chattahoochee River less than a mile later.
Dukes Creek Trail
From the marked entrance to Dukes Creek Falls on the Russell Scenic Highway the road to the parking lot follows the ridge line to an unnamed knoll. From the parking loop, the ADA portion of the Dukes Creek Trail retraces the ridge line to the ADA overlook. From here the trail begins a series of three well done switches, and part of the trail follows an old road as you descend into the Dukes Creek river valley about 400 feet below the parking lot. Dukes Creek runs to the east of these switchbacks.
Dukes Creek Falls Hike
The ADA section of the Dukes Creek Falls trail is wheelchair accessible, leading to an observation deck less than 0.1 miles along a combined paved trail and boardwalk. From the observation deck the falls can be heard clearly, although recent tree growth limits the view of the falls. This portion of the trail is reminiscent of trails in Vermont or New Hampshire.
As you walk the upper potion of the trail, notice the large number of trees down. Three storms, Hurricane Opal (1995), a snowstorm generally called "Storm of the Century" (1993) and an unnamed rainstorm repeatedly raked the area in the mid-1990's. The downed trees are evidence of the power with which these storms swept through the north Georgia mountains.
While the pathway is remarkably level, it descends more than 400 feet on the half-mile walk. The sound of the waterfall can only be heard at the middle of each switchback, fading as the next turn approaches. Where the footpath switches back the sounds of the forest are louder than the falls.
After the second switch the path now narrows considerably. At the falls three more observation decks have been built into a boardwalk. Its' cool here, courtesy of God's air conditioning. The falls on Davis Creek are both spectacular and deafening, and the cascades of Dukes Creek add to the enjoyment. Just above the wooden structure the original path is still visible.
On the walk up, on the middle switchback, look at the trees on the right. Clinging tenaciously to the rock, they are so firmly implanted that the storms did not loosen them.
Your guide to hiking and walking trails in the state of Georgia
Georgia State Park
Raven Cliff Falls
Richard B. Russell
Smithgall Woods Conservation Area