The Cherokee called this area the "land of a thousand waterfalls, and the Blue Ridge Mountains of north Georgia do abound with waterfalls. I was happy to see two of the most popular ones near Helen. You can read about my experience walking the short trail to Anna Ruby Falls in a previous post here. After visiting that beautiful waterfall, we went in search of the larger Dukes Creek Falls, which was a longer moderate hike for us suburbanites used to the flat landscape of north Florida. So we took our time along the 2 mile trail there and back, enjoying the stillness of the emerald woods and the occasional sound of the mighty waterfall that urged us further down to the falling water.
Near the beginning of the short paved trail head, one can see the falls, but to get up close required following the unpaved mile long trail down to the base of the falls in the vibrant green valley below. It was a pleasant walk, cool under the sky-reaching trees that dripped with leftover raindrops from an earlier rain shower. Overhead the sun shone from a blue canopy dotted with clouds playing a game of peek a boo and decided to play, too.
A variety of ferns grew from a carpet of last year's fallen leaves, along with tiny intricate mosses and fungi that blanketed trees laid to rest. Boulders and rocks still slick from the earlier rain were locked in tight embrace with gigantic tree roots that keep the textured trunks of the forest trees upright as they reach towards the sun's golden beams.
The trail into Dukes Creek valley descends 400 feet from the upper parking lot at the trail head. With a series of three switchbacks, the descent is gradual and the path is fairly wide. In parts of the trail, rain had washed through, exposing tree roots and rocks, so we had to watch our step. As we neared the trail's end, the path narrowed and grew steeper, but soon Duke's Creek Falls came into view. The trail ended with stairs leading down to sturdy wooden viewing platforms. Benches built into the platforms were a pleasant place to sit and enjoy the sight and sound of the majestic rushing waters flowing down the side of the mountain into the outcropping of rocks below.
Davis Creek, on the left, drops 150 - 300 feet to join Dukes Creek, on the right below the platforms. I couldn't get a picture of both falls at once due to the heavy tree growth and angles of the viewing platforms. The top of the falls was hidden by trees. One of the three platforms was damaged from a fallen tree and has been closed for some time, but views of the falls could still be enjoyed. It was fascinating to see and hear the rush of the water tumbling over ridged rocks that filled the basin below.
Sunlight sparkled on the water and I had fun taking abstract images of a penny nestled near a rock under the rushing water. I wondered who had thrown it there, how long it had lain there, and whether a wish had been made. Can you see the lonely copper colored dot in the image?
After enjoying the wonderful sight of Dukes Creek Falls, it was time to trek the uphill mile hike back to the parking lot. Retracing our steps, we slowly made our way back up the trail, enjoying the beauty of the forest a second time. The sharp eyes of my mom spotted several Jack in the Pulpit wildflowers. She has some that grow in the wooded backyard of her home. These shade loving perennials grow in rich, moist deciduous woodlands and floodplains of eastern North America. The unusual shape of this hooded flower bears a resemblance to a preacher standing at the pulpit, thus the name Jack in the pulpit. These little Jacks proclaim Good News to those with ears to hear their message. Their stripes of purple and green are reminiscent of the greater stripes on One who brings healing to those who believe the message from the pulpit.
We enjoyed our leisurely walk in the woods to Dukes Creek Falls and back that peaceful Sunday afternoon. Perhaps we'll walk that trail again someday or walk another in the land of a thousand waterfalls, the Blue Ridge Mountains of north Georgia. There is an abundance of beauty to be found when searching for waterfalls.
Thanks for tagging along.