|From DUKES CREEK FALLS|
I like the Alpine City of Helen, Georgia for all the wrong reasons. I’m not a huge fan of their take on food or German Culture. It is nice, I guess, but feels a bit contrived, but I might be oversensitive to this stuff as I went to college in the most contrived city on Earth. What I like is that it remains the most open and inviting of all North Georgia cities and that it is a great base point for many exhilarating treks the mountains. It is the third most travelled to destination of all Georgia cities. So what do you do when you get there: Go see something beautiful in the nature that surrounds it. A short distance away is a fantastic waterfall, one in which these photos actually cannot do justice, known as Dukes Creek Falls.
Dukes Creek Falls drops from Dukes Creek, not from it. The 150 foot drop into the gorge comes from Davis Creek. It is so large and cascading it is nearly impossible to take in as a whole. But can be taken in quite nicely in smaller sections. It is the most majestic of the four Helen Area waterfalls and makes for a simple quick excursion to add to your Alpine itinerary.
The trail itself is marvelously maintained and easy to navigate. It does descend about 400 feet through a serious of three switchbacks. But over the 1.1 miles down the path almost feels flats. At the parking area, you get one of the better views of Yonah Mountain. About .1 mile down, there is a viewing platform that allows a distance view of the upper portion of the falls. Along the second switchback near the midpoint of the trail, you begin to hear the sounds of strong falling water. Shortly after this point, you will get your best view of the whole of the falls, albeit not a good view as it is obscured by trees and may be invisible when the trees are full with leaves.
At the very bottom, there are some nice observation decks, where the bottom of the falls literally envelopes you. And the deck continues a bit further where there is an additional smaller fall along Dukes Creek. Of course, after getting your fill of the falls you have to climb out, which will be tougher. But it really isn’t all that bad, I would place it at about half the difficulty of Stone Mountain.
I would rate this as one of the better short hikes in Georgia. At 2.2 miles with the climb out it would constitute some exercise. The beauty of the falls offers a tremendous payout for your effort. Dukes Creek also flows into Smithgall Woods a few miles South if you wish to do some additional walking.
Approximate Time: 1 hour
Approximate Distance: 2.2 miles
Trail Surface: Compact Soil, Boardwalk, Stairs
Features: Waterfall, Vista views
Overall Rating: A
Scenic Quality: A+
Parking: $3 (Mar 2010)
Hours of Operation: Daylight Hours
Maps: Not needed