• Activities:

    Camping, Fishing, Photography, Swimming, Hiking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    6.2 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    550 Feet

Swimming Hole

Hiking this incredible 6 mile out-and-back trail to find five of Georgia's most secluded and beautiful waterfalls.  With 20 creek crossings, just be prepared to get wet!

The hike to the five waterfalls on the Emery Creek trail is one of the most spectacular hikes in Georgia. This trail is moderate in climb, yet secluded in the Cohutta Wilderness and challenging enough to keep crowds away. Two things to note about this trail: it is wet (there are 20 creek crossings), and it can be tricky to navigate if you do not stick to a few simple tips.

The first tip for this trail is to follow Emery Creek the whole way to the waterfalls.  There are several smaller creeks that converge into Emery Creek, so at all of these convergences, make sure you always take the left fork to follow the neon-green blazes.  This will keep you heading in a consistent direction North.  

The second tip is to be extra careful while crossing the creeks.  The rocks can be wet, slippery, and unstable.  I was not careful the first time I did this hike and I stepped on a rock that I thought looked large and stable, but it ended up turning over on me, leaving me with soaked socks for 5+ miles of trail.  That is not what you want.

The first creek crossing at .3 miles will have you cross Holly creek.  This will bring you to the first first-come-first serve campsite along the trail.  Once at the campsite, it might seem like the trail veers right (I may or may not have made this misjudgment), but just keep following the blazes to the left, across the campsite.  Within the next mile or so, you will cross Emery Creek another three times. At about 1.2 miles, you will get to an old road that passes through the through Hemlock and Hardwood forest.  Here you will pass the remnants of a old and rusted truck, a reminder of what this trail might have been like 70 years ago.  At 1.4 miles, turn left off of the roadbed and continue on the trail.  Do not cross the creek here.   

You have several more creek crossings and a bit more noticeable of a climb before you get to an ambiguous sign that poorly indicates which direction the trail continues and which direction the falls are.  The good news here is that both left and right will take you to waterfalls.  However, the closer two lower falls lie just hundreds of feet from the left fork. The first of the five waterfalls is the largest one, a towering 60 foot tiered waterfall.  The pool at its base provides nice cool water to take a dip in after a warm hike in the summer. Just .1 miles up the hill from this first waterfall is another gentle 15 foot block waterfall.  

 To get to the other three waterfalls, head back to the fork where the confusing sign is and take the right-hand path (when facing the sign) this time. This will take you up a more steep section of trail up the hill.  The third, fourth, and fifth waterfalls are 15, 40, and 15 feet tall, respectively.  These are a bit harder to get close to, as you will need to scramble straight down the hill.  Just be careful with your footing here and watch for poison ivy!

Once you feel like you have gotten enough of a waterfall fix in your system, just head back the same way you came.  Enjoy one of Georgia's top waterfall hikes!

Pack List

  • Waterproof boots or hiking sandals
  • An extra pair of socks just in case you do take a dunk into the creek
  • A towel/bathing suit in case you do decide to go for a swim (even if it is an accident)
  • Camera
  • Daypack 
  • At least 1 L of water
  • Hiking stick or trekking poles
  • Trail snacks
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Hidden gem 💗. Wear shoes you don't mind getting wet. The hike consists of crossing the creek over and over until you reach the waterfall. Also, you can swim in the various blue holes leading up to the falls. Prob the best hike I've done in Ga.

9 months ago
9 months ago

Christian Murillo Explorer

My love for natural landscape photography is what first got me outside. Now, I can hardly stay indoors. My sense of adventure has led me to travel all over the US (mostly in the SE), and also drove me to complete a +42,000 mile trip around the world.

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