Raven Cliff Falls is the number one place I’ve been to so far. The only way to explain it is by telling you that you feel like you’ve been transported into some other world. To me it was like stepping into Neverland where you just may find Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. The trail is 2.5 miles there and 2.5 miles back giving a total of 5 miles. The length may turn some of you off but it’s not a difficult trail at all and you are walking next to pristine water that has several waterfalls dotting along the way. Let’s just say there is so much scope for the imagination that you probably could walk the trail twice and not even realize how long you’ve walked. The trail is also agreeable for even a novice hiker and there were only a few places that were moderately up hill.
I was hesitant about going to this park at first because everything I read was about this particular place being one of the most popular hiking waterfall trails in North Georgia. I thought it would be packed and one of those wait and pass places. I went two times, both on Saturday’s and both during fantastic weather. The first time the parking was a nightmare which I fully expected because people had been telling me that you can either drive around for a few minutes or try to find parking elsewhere. I ended up parking with a bunch of other people up the road near the parking lot. It’s a better idea, if you have to park here, to turn your car around facing out so that you don’t have to maneuver a full turn when everyone has parked on the side. The second Saturday I went, there weren’t many people there at all and I was able to park just fine in the parking lot.
Raven Cliff Falls is in the Chattahoochee National Forest and is very close to Helen. There are many waterfalls along the creek that you can take a quick detour to check out along the way. Many of them are quite large in fact, with the largest having a 70 foot drop. It’s not hard to follow the trail as it stays pretty close to the creek the entire time.
One of my favorite parts of the trail is about half way in and you start to realize the trees seem taller than anything you’ve seen. The trees certainly speak in volumes because you feel so small walking around them. This particular area reminded me of Moonrise Kingdom and am convinced Wes Anderson should film here.
I have never wanted to camp so bad in my entire life when I first came to Raven Cliff. The little valleys provide great camping experiences off the trail and surrounded by these beautiful trees. I’ve been told that as camping season gets in, you need to get there early. There’s no camping reservations here so first come, first serve. Many people prefer to set up camp near the front by the creek but I say, hike it in adventurer! The place I really want to camp is more than half way through the trail where I saw another group who had their hammocks up near their tent. I can only imagine waking up to this beautiful place in the summer, taking the whole day to explore the woods and the cliffs, soaking up the sun in the water……sigh.
As you start to approach the Raven Cliff Falls you will enter something that is so massive and beautiful you’ll have trouble trying focus on one thing. What makes Raven Falls so unique is the double cascade flowing down through a fissure in the cliffs. The falls has three drops and if you do a little climbing up the rocks you’ll get a great view of the double cascade. It’s really quite amazing and I still haven’t seen a single picture of this place that really does it justice. It’s just one of those things that you have to see with your own eyes.
If you are really up for some adventure there are ways around the cliffs that will give you a view of the two drops the waterfall has before going through the cliffs. I’ve seen some people scale the tree root system that is attached to the far cliff. We kept climbing up past the cliffs and followed a makeshift kind of trail. If you are comfortable bending, balancing and ducking through fallen trees then you 100% need to do this. We ended up jumping down a rock and walked around to see the best part of the falls. It kind of resembled something from Tomb Raider or Indiana Jones.
If you are looking for a nice day in North Georgia, I highly recommend doing Raven Cliff Falls and then driving a few miles down the road to go eat in Helen. It was a wonderful day, both times I went. This is one place that I would go back to a million times without ever tiring of it.
“Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning”