Dukes Creek Falls is a moderate to easy hike on the way to Helen, GA. I had this on my itinerary for my granddaughter and I, because of the distance of the hike, and it also being on the way to Helen for our adventure to Unicoi State Park.
We stopped along the Russell Scenic Highway at Dukes Creek Falls to do our first hike of the weekend. It was a pretty hot day, and we were looking forward to jumping in some water.
The parking area for Dukes Creek Falls actually has a few picnic tables and some bathrooms - which was nice to discover. The hike was down a well-traveled path that seemed to go down and around forever. It was more what I consider a man-made pathway than a real hiking trail. It was lined with wood, and graced with planked bridges and obvious upkeep from wear and tear from thousands of visitors.
We started hearing and seeing glimpses of the waterfall half way through the hike. It gave us the strength to carry on. ha! What wimps! It's only a 2 mile hike! It just went down and around several times. I know I was painfully aware of how the hike was going to feel going back UP. We arrived to find a narrow viewing platform with lots of signs stating rules about getting in the water or leaving this darn deck we forced to stand on to view this natural beauty. It was packed with people. It was hard to get a photo without others being in it. We were awed by the waterfall, but the experience was lacking a true hike in the woods, which is what we love. We decided to eat our power energy snacks and high-tail it out of there to our next stop after getting some pictures of this super long waterfall. It cascaded through the forest like it was king. At times, it truly looked as if it flowed from the clouds.
On the hike back up, we found a little access point to the Dukes Creek, and went and had an hour of cold water play. We found a great camping spot that a little family had a tent on, kids playing and fishing in front of it, and I made my mental notes of a great future spot to grab if ever in need. We played in the rocks, cooled down and made it to the car and headed on to our Unicoi Adventure.
For people looking for a fairly easy hike, where you AREN'T out in the woods alone, and looking for a safe, maintained trail where you will be sure to see a lot of other folks, have bathrooms and a large parking area, this is a good bet for you and your families, along a very scenic north Georgia highway (Russell Scenic Hwy 348) going into Helen, GA.