Minnehaha Falls & Panther Falls

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I had a big day planned for this late January 2016 weekend.  The Waterfalls of Brasstown Falls were to be my primary destination.  Any other waterfall destination I could find myself at would just be a bonus.  Brasstown Falls is over 4 hours away for me.  I picked a small town in northern Georgia, Clayton to drive down the day before on Saturday to spend the night.  I wasn’t the only one with a long drive, as most of the friends I was meeting the next day had at least 2 hours to drive.  One particular friend, Daniel Jack Hutchison, had a similar drive as I did, except coming in from Tennessee as opposed to west/central North Carolina.  We made some “rough” plans to see where we were about 1 pm and go from there.  Luckily, we were both set up early in the afternoon and had plenty of time to spare.  He knew of a few waterfalls closeby to Clayton, Ga so off we went.  

I have been getting out of NC a lot the last 2 years to neighboring states to see waterfalls, but Georgia is the one state in which I have spent the least time.  The only waterfalls I have experienced down here were the ones in Tallulah Gorge.  As I followed him after meeting at this wild place called “Goats on the Roof”, it looked like he was leading me right back into Tallulah Gorge.  Heading south down US 23 / US 441, we turned onto old 441, and were driving right along the Tallulah River, except we were heading upstream, with the Gorge being well downstream.  The next few miles were a blur as we came to Lake Rabun Rd and turned left.  We pretty much kept following the Tallulah River as it became Lake Rabun. This was a beautiful lake.  After about 4 miles or so of slow, curvy road travel, a

we stopped for our first waterfall, Panther Falls.  The sign however says Angel Falls.

  

 This was a short, easy to moderate trail that was a little over 1/2 mile one way .  Once there, it was a beautiful 50 foot waterfall with several good photo ops.  I especially liked the one right at the very bottom in front of the last fall and then just up the trail on the next ledge.

  

Daniel said the Angel Falls was a little further upstream, however it was becoming so overgrown, that it was hardly worth visiting.  His plan was to head back to the cars and travel deeper into the woods for an even better waterfall.  We continued driving along the Tallulah River upstream, leaving Lake Rabun and eventually a smaller  Seed Lake, which was really just a slightly wider section of the river, wide enough for some small boats and docks.  Once around Seed Lake, we followed Crow Creek Rd which became dirt and was very long, twisty and slow traveling.  Even though it was nearly 60 in the north GA mountains, there was still a decent dirt road snow pack from a winter storm nearly 2 weeks prior.  This made a challenging trek , just a little more so.  Eventually once completely back around Seed Lake on the other side, we turned onto Bear Gal Rd, another dirt road.  Now we were approaching Lake Rabun again on the other side.  Luckily, the Falls Branch wasn’t much further and not long after crossing it was the small parking area for the trailhead to Minnehaha Falls.

Parking our cars turned out to be the hardest part of this trip, and we both had small vehicles and had to park at a downhill angle on somewhat soft, and wet dirt.  Happy to report that no issues became of that and off we went.  After an initial climb, the main trail was pretty easy and about 1/2 mile to the waterfall.  Once there, I was blown away.  Maybe the flow was just really good from the recent snow and rain, but it was a gorgeous waterfall, 60 feet high, with multiple cascades spread out over a fairly large rock face.  Daniel Jack said I would like this one…..he was right.   Nice job Daniel!  This is easily my favorite waterfall now in Georgia, but keep in mind I still have many more to see.

After the long drive out, we split only to meet up the next morning for an epic day of exploring some of the finest waterfalls in western South Carolina.  Daniel had a meeting with the owner of “The Wayward Travelers”.   They have some very nice guide books to some excellent waterfalls in North Georgia and some in my state of North Carolina. Daniel is now working on a guide book with them for some of the best waterfalls in his home state of Tennessee.  Look for it in 2017!

Minnehaha Falls – Short Video

 

Panther Falls – Short Video

 

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