DeSoto Falls - Hiking

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DeSoto Falls Recreation Area, located in the Chattahoochee National Forest, offers a couple of trails to view two different waterfalls along Frogtown Creek. This is a great way to see beautiful waterfalls on a short, family-friendly hike in the North Georgia Mountains.


3.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

71.3 miles


2 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

2 hours

Less than 2 Hours


All Seasons

Dog Friendly


Fees Permits


$3 Parking

Topographical Map

Topo Map

Land Website

Forest Service Page



If you want to get outdoors without investing in a long, arduous hike, this is the place to visit. These falls are named after Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto and local legend claims he and his group traversed the area in search of gold in 1541. You have a choice between two trails totaling 2 miles round-trip. Go for the 1.5 mile out and back trail starting along Frogtown Creek to see the Upper Falls or choose the shorter 0.5 mile out and back trail to visit the Lower Falls. 

What Makes It Great

From the parking lot, walk a short distance to a wooden bridge. Crossing over Frogtown Creek, you will see a well-marked sign indicating the two different trails. Turn right to hike the 0.75-mile trail to the Upper Falls. Along the way, you will see tents nestled between the trees. Picnic tables dot the landscape and depending on the time of day, you may smell the charcoal grills. You will also hear motorcycles roaring on the nearby curvy mountain roads. Soon though, you’ll leave civilization behind as you hike alongside the creek, enjoying the gentle babble of water flowing over the many rocks. The trail begins to climb slightly. Take in the lush environment of the trees, many covered in lichen, and breathe the fresh air. After a few bends and a couple of wooden bridges, you will soon reach the viewing deck for the Upper Falls. These falls have a 90-foot drop. Although tempting to walk out onto the rocks or higher up the falls, a lone cross reminds you of the waterfall’s dangers. Take the same path back down. At the fork, turn left to return to the parking lot or continue straight on the 0.25-mile trail to the Lower Falls. This trail is steeper and involves several switchbacks that offer more of a mountain hiking experience, but it is shorter. Although downstream, the trail climbs to higher elevations. You’ll notice these falls are smaller with only a 35-foot drop, but are equally impressive. 

Who is Going to Love It

Hikers of all ages and fitness levels enjoy DeSoto Falls. It’s perfect for families with young children and senior adults since they can choose to take one or both trails. Less active people appreciate the benches to rest at both viewing platforms. Photographers find it relatively easy to carry tripods and equipment with them. Still want more exercise? Add a stop at nearby Vogel State Park just 9 miles up the road for more hiking trails. 

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

From Dahlonega, take GA 19 north for 18 miles. There is a $3 parking fee unless you have a Chattahoochee-Oconee Forest annual pass. Pit toilets are located in the parking lot. Dogs on leashes are allowed and will enjoy the trails. If you want to spend more time, there are 8 picnic sites with grills. You can also camp on a first come, first serve basis at one of the 24 campsites for an additional fee, but full services are only available from mid-March to mid-November.


DeSoto Falls - Hiking

Hwy 129 N
Cleveland, GA, 30342
34.705706, -83.914979

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