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Camping and Hiking DeSoto Falls, Georgia

by JP on Jul.20, 2009, under Georgia Hiking Trails

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Desoto Falls Scenic Area is a federally managed area that offers approximately 20 or so camping pads located just south of Blairsville, Georgia and just North of Dahlonega. The site offers decent camping accommodations for campers and RVers alike, but I can’t really say that an entire day can be spent here. Fortunately, it isn’t too far away from several wonderful other areas offering numerous outdoor recreation opportunities, such as Brasstown Bald, Vogel State Park, and portions of the Appalachian Trail. The falls themselves are somewhat  small and weak, compared to other Georgia falls, so unless you also enjoy hiking for hiking’s sake, I would probably say this is a place that is enjoyable to see if here, but ultimately not worth the drive on its own. Camping accomdations are Desoto costs $12.00 per site, and is closed from late November until late April.

Privacy

One of the best things about camping here is the amount of privacy and isolation offered at many of the campsites.

The campground is laid out in two loops. Many of the lower loop sites sit along the creek, just below the falls. Because of their proximity to the creek, this makes these sites very appealing, and therefore more crowded. While these sites are larger than most sites at other campgrounds, they are still aligned next to each other. Noisy neighbors or later arrivals could definetly spoil the tranquility of the creek.

The upper loop on the other hand has equally large, if not larger campsites and are typically not adjacent to one another. I could not see a single RV or tent from my site, although I must admit there was one empty site across the road and downhill from me (still a good distance from my site).

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The downside to camping on the upper loop, especially in the upper part of the upper loop is the distance from the highway. While not necessarily close to Hwy. 129, one can hear the faint sound of traffic over the birds, bugs, and toads. I personally opted for light sounds of traffic, but pick your own poison, or head down to the Boggs Creek Scenic Area for privacy, a creek and quiet (that would be my choice of venues on my next trip to the area).

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Campsites

Each campsite contains the standard square, limestone pea-gravel tent pad enclosed by 4×6 posts. These seem to be the only type of material used for federally managed camping in Georgia. I have found that I rarely have a good night of sleep on these pads, but I can’t really beat the price of camping on federal land.

Additionally, each site has metal fire ring, two metal hooks and  a very sturdy picnic table. Just remember to pick up your food and trash at night or the raccoons will be having a party next to your tent. Restrooms and showers are available through the campground.

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Desoto Falls

Distance – 0.75 miles to Upper Falls, 0.25 to Lower Falls

Like just about everything named after DeSoto in Georgia, the falls gets its name for an supposed Spanish piece of armor found near the falls years ago. The armor, as every Spanish artifact found in Georgia, was believed to belong to DeSoto (or as the sign likely more accurately states any other Spanish explorer that came through the area). Nevertheless, DeSoto Falls is actually two trails going to two different sets of falls along the same creek.

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Upon entering the trailhead, hikers get to decide which trail to see first. The Upper Falls is the longer distance at 0.75 miles, but is likely the easier of the two hikes. The Lower Falls is a slightly more steep, continuous climb, but clocks in at only 0.25 miles. Both trails are relatively easy hikes, so be sure to hike them both.

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To start the Upper Falls trail take  the right on the trailhead. This hike is fairly flat with only a few rolling hills that go up and down. Most of the trail follows parallel to the Creek.

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At the top of the trail, hikers reach an observation deck to view the falls. The Upper Falls is made  up of essentially three tall cascades, but unfortunately their height does not really correlate to their power. I viewed these falls not long after a good hard rain, but was not really impressed with them. There was only a little water coming over the cascades.

After returning to the trail head, continue past the bridge to the Lower Falls. This hike is slightly more steep. The trail itself is made up of several switchbacks leading to yet another observation deck. These falls are unfortunately less powerful than the first, but in my opinion somewhat neater to see. The Lower Falls is only a single fall, but here the creek trickles over a flat cliff-like rock. After viewing the falls, return back to the trail head.

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Overall there is nothing bad about Desoto Falls Scenic Area. It is just a little underwhelming when surrounded by so many other wonderful things to see. Stay here if you’re thinking of hiking on the A.T., in Vogel, or at Brasstown Bald and Boggs Creek is full. Otherwise, I recommend Boggs Creek.

Nearby

Helton Creek Falls Trail -0.1 miles

Vogel State Park

Brasstown Bald

Boggs Creek Scenic Area and Campsites

Directions:

1. Take Highway 19 North from Dahlonega for 18 miles.

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