Located in the heart of the Cohutta Wilderness, Jacks River Falls is a lovely area for both day hiking and camping. With a couple different trail options, the hike down to the Falls itself is 9-miles over multiple creek crossings.
There are many amazing waterfalls to hike to in Northern Georgia, but none of them will take your breath away quite like Jacks River Falls. Located in the heart of the Cohutta Wilderness and in the Chattahoochee National Forest, Jacks River Falls encompasses the significance of a wilderness waterfall, as it's the most powerful waterfall in the North Georgia backcountry.
There are two ways to get to the Falls. You will either have to backpack in on the Jacks River Trail, named after a Cherokee Indian, who for a small fee, would carry travelers across the river on his back. Or take a 4.5 hike down on the Beech Bottom Trail. Backpacking down to the Falls is a 9-mile trek on the Jacks River Trail over multiple river crossings, where you end at the falls at mile 9. In the Spring, these crossings are not to be underestimated. The round-trip distance of Jacks River Trail is 18 miles total, and ends up being more like 38 river crossings.If you backpack in from Daly Gap on the Jacks River Trail, be aware there are strict guidelines for camping near Jacks River Falls. There is absolutely NO camping within 300 feet of Jacks River Falls. Also campfires are prohibited during the winter months near the Falls.The other (and much easier way) can be done on a day hike via the Beech Bottom Trail. The Beech Bottom Trail is 4.5 miles downhill that eventually meets the Jacks River Trail. This is by far the easiest access to the Falls and also the most popular. If you day hike in on the Beech Bottom Trail, give yourself plenty of time for the 9.2 mile round trip to the Falls and back. Remember, you have to hike back up out of the Gorge. This ends up being a total of 4.5 hours of hiking time. Make sure you bring water, and an extra pair of socks in your day pack. Also, be aware that the open rock formations when standing near the Falls can be slippery. Use caution when negotiating around the Falls themselves. If you have hiking poles, they'll come in handy here.
What Makes It Great
The open rocky area and the impressive 80-foot drop are some of the best waterfall views anyone could wish for. In fact, winter is one of the best times to hear the roar of Jacks River Falls. The best thing about the Falls is that it's only a 2 ½ hour drive north from Atlanta. In fact, the Cohutta Mountains themselves are some of the oldest mountains on the planet. The Wilderness Area is a total of 35,268 acres and is the largest wilderness area in Northern Georgia. There are over 95 miles of trails in the Cohutta Wilderness. Jacks River Falls offers spectacular views, and will create longtime memories as you stand looking at the drop off.Even in the winter, Jacks River Falls features old growth hemlocks and an overlook into Jacks River that you won't soon forget, so it's a great destination year-round.
Who is Going to Love It
For backpackers and hikers who aren’t afraid to get wet, this trail will prove to be your favorite. When the weather gets hot and humid, this is the perfect escape to log long trail miles and a few summer campouts. You’ll have ample opportunities to take a dip in the river to cool off, and those who have a love for waterfalls will find Jack’s River Falls a beautiful site. Jack’s River Trail is not recommended as a beginner hike because the trail markings are sometimes hard to spot. Don’t rely on a GPS as the signal sometimes gets lost in the woods. Bring a paper map to be safe. However, as stated earlier, Beech Bottom Trail is much more novice-friendly.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
To access the trails: Heading North from Atlanta, take Hwy 75 to Catersville and exit North to Chatsworth on Hwy 411 towards Cisco, GA. Look for Old Hwy 2 on the Right. (Cisco is not a big town so look closely) Follow this road for 7 miles (it will turn into a gravel road). On the Right you will see signs pointing to Beech Bottom. Turn Right on this FR and cross 2 small rivers that run right over the gravel road. The first right turn is the Daily Gap trailhead. But continue for a total of about 5 miles to find a parking area for the Beech Bottom Trailhead. Due to overuse, the immediate area around Jacks River Falls was closed for camping in March 2003. Now there are restrictions on the number of people allowed to camp per site, the distance between campsites, and others, but this is still a fantastic place and highly recommended. This is primitive camping, so be sure to go prepared with guidebook and necessary gear.You’ll find plenty of campsites, all on a first-come, first-serve basis, that are close to the river and in the forest. Check the forecast and if there is a chance of rain, skip it. The area is susceptible to flooding, so avoid this hike during inclement weather. In warmer weather, snakes are everywhere.