Beauty Scale:10 collectively
(1-worth seeing-10 awesome)
Facilities: Boarded walkways and observation decks
Closest town: Helen, Georgia
Directions from Helen
Follow Hwy. 75 out of Helen, Ga. 1.5 miles to Ga. Hwy 75Alt. at Robertstown. Turn left on 75Alt. for 2.2 miles and turn right onto Ga. 356, which is the Richard Russell Scenic Highway. Go to 3 mile marker parking on side of roadway.
Directions from Hiawassee
Head south east of of town on us 76 about 3 miles. Turn right at GA-17/GA-75 Continue to follow GA-75 about 16.5 miles. Turn right on GA 356 just before entering Hellen, and travel 2.3 miles to the Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway. Turn right and travel 2.8 miles to the trailhead and parking area.
We have always put off doing this trail because of the length and the age of our kids but after walking it the spring of 2008, I can say we should have done it a long time ago. It is a long hike, I think more like 3 miles instead of the suggested 2.5. It took us an hour of steady hiking without stops to reach the end and we are hardy hikers. The trail is easy in most parts but there are a few treacherous spots with steep drop offs into the falls if you are not sure footed. Even those unsteady can easily pass these areas with a helping hand and really there were only two spots we had to watch carefully with our kids. There are only 3 small hills to climb along the trail and not too steep, other than that the trail is easy, very flat and very beautiful. If you can walk 5 miles with ease this hike is well worth it. Allow your self at least 3 and a half hours for the full trip and that should allow you a half an hour stop at the falls. As always wear good shoes and bring drinking water and a sweater, as the whole hike is under the trees and cool even on the hottest summer day.
The trail to the falls is 2.5 miles one-way along Dodd Creek to the cliffs where the upper falls is located The trail is an intermediate hike through beautiful rhododendron and hemlock forests following the creek by many small waterfalls. You will need to traverse small steams along the way most with foot bridges, so dress appropriately. Along the trail you will see many beautiful cascades some with as much as 10' drops. Ending with the upper falls where the creek plunges 30' through a narrow crevice.
You will find the trail head across the street from the parking lot. The sign is small and faded, look for it when you drive in. The first hill is at the beginning of the hike if you can make it up that, (don't worry it's small) you won't have any trouble on the rest.You will cross the first foot bridge not long after, the trail will then parallel Dodd creek all the way. Continue upstream passing an outcropping of rocks and having to climb over some logs along the way. About a quarter of a mile in look for the heart tree to the left of the trail along the stream. A little over 1 mile you will reach the lower falls. The lower waterfall spills over a 15' rock face in an open bedrock area. There is a pathway leads down to creek level for an un obstructive view, but in the early spring there is no need to leave the trail you
Continuing upstream, the second falls lie just 2/10ths of a mile ahead. This 30' waterfall comes into view and is best seen as it is approached on the main trail.There is a path down the cliff to the base but it is steep and dangerous. Don't do it! As always used your head when you are in the forest. It's a long way to get out with a twisted ankle or worse. Be a smart hiker. If you don't have a lot of time I'd end your hike here. It is a great
Hiking upstream another 1 1/2 miles or so (making the total distance 2.55 miles according to the chart I think it is more like 3 miles, next time I'll take my pedometer) you will cross many branches you can find a slim path leading to a creekside view of the cascades below the cliffs. This 3 tier cascade is seen up close from the main trail in 200'. The trail continues to climb and ends at the fall's viewing area. The 30' upper falls spill into the dark, mystical, mossy split of two huge blocks of granite and careen into a small plunge pool. Once one big rock, with the creek flowing over it, and century's of freezing and thawing, the rock split causing this crevice that now exist.
Raven Cliffs wilderness is located within the Mark Trail Wilderness Area and was designated as part of the National Wilderness Preservation system in 1986. It's 9113 acres will feel the footsteps of people only as visitors. Unfortunately thoughtless campers, hikers, and Rappelers are taking a tragic toll here. Please stay on the existing trails and resist climbing the cliffs, the delicate mosses and lichens can not tolerate the traffic. And there is a lot of traffic on this hike. If you like quite hikes in the woods try a weekday or even a winters day. On many of these hikes we rarely see anyone. This one we rarely were alone. Still well worth seeing. The sound of the rushing creekthroughout the trip covers the voices of others and the beauty
Many folks bring their dogs and there are many places to take them swimming along the way. Do however be respectful of others on the trail and at the falls keep your dogs leashed for their safety. The rocks are slick and a few years back I witnessed a horrible tragedy when a dog owner allowed their dogs to roam freely on top of a waterfall and the dog slipped plunging 30 feet below. Be a responsible pet owner please!