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Duluth Massage

Tumbling Waters Trail
Georgia Trails

Trail Length: 1.6 miles Type of trail: In and out
County: Gilmer County, GA Our rating: Moderate
Features: waterfalls, bathrooms Your rating:
Usage: Light Added on: July 14, 2000
Last hiked: October 09, 2015 Updated on: October 12, 2015
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Hiking trails in Gilmer County, GA

Directions to Tumbling Waters Trail


Located in Ridgeway Day Use Area, Tumbling Waters is the name given to Tails Creek as it drops nearly 100 feet to Carters Lake. Trails continue up both sides to platforms that allow close-up views of the falls.

Tumbling Waters Trail Narrative

Tumbling Waters
The story of Tumbling Waters is told in the land and the flora of the understory (vegetation beneath the canopy of a forest) of the hike. New York ferns and applewort enjoy the moist, partially shaded ground near the trail, while rhododendron are a little farther off, nestle beneath a pine-to-hardwood forest that tells to the story of the once clearcut land. Quick growing pine establish themselves, eventually giving way to the hardwoods. Watch for an occasional white pine in the mostly hemlock and oak forest.

Entering at the marked trailhead on the north side of the day use parking area, steps take hikers to the path which runs about halfway between the lake on the left) and the top of the ridge (on the right). The footpath, which is heavily rooted and rocky in places, crosses two small bridges (over normally dry creeks) on the approach to Tails Creek. As the trail curves left and Tumbling Waters comes into view a 0.1 mile trail comes off to the right that leads to the first overlook of Tumbling Waters. The 160-foot Tails Creek Bridge allows hikers to cross river and gives them an excellent view of the creek and Carters Lake. Two support towers carry the fixed (non-swinging) bridge over Tails Creek. Most of the decking has been replaced,

After the bridge the trail climbs stairs and the entire peninsula can be explored on foot. To reach the second overlook, turn right at the top of the stairs and look for a v-shaped formed by two embankments. This is the sluice or the raceway that powered the saw mill's wheel. As you climb easily, a modern dirt road crosses through both embankments at a 45-degree angle.

A short while later a single road comes off to the right. Take this as it drops near the river and turns to follow Tails Creek upstream to the second overlook. Tails Creek tumbles to Carters Lake in a series of cascades. These short bursts of water create a lot of noise, even in times of drought. Looking up from the overlook, the top of the creek falls a lineal distance of 400 feet to Carter's Lake. Beyond the visible top, Tails Creek drops another 400 lineal feet.

Video of Tumbling Waters Overlook after a rain:

Return to the trail to the bridge. As you enter the clearing, on the right is a foot and a half deep square indentation where the millwheel for sawmill turned. As we looked at the mill, I told my wife we needed to find an old road at the ridge, probably near the entrance to the park. On returning to the start of the paved road we not only found the old road but a trail tree. The trail is obvious at .2 miles, (especially in the winter) from the start of the pavement to the left, and the trail tree is directly across the road (right-hand side as you enter the park).


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Tumbling Waters Trail
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