Sunday, June 20, 2010

Horsetrough and High Shoals Falls

Today was Father's Day. I wanted to spend it with my family, but I also wanted to explore the world a bit. Nothing too strenuous, I was still tired from yesterday's hundie.

Waffle House... Church... Helen.

This time, I remembered to call Clark. He and Suzy were free, so the girls and I met them at The Nacoochee Village Tavern. Unfortunately, the Tavern didn't open for lunch until 1PM, so we had about half an hour to kill. Just down the road, there was cool stuff to see at the Nora Granary.

A dam across the Chattahoochee.

 Nora Granary Dam

And a gazillion gigantic trout.

 Gigantic Trout

No fishing, but for a quarter you can throw food down and they go crazy. The girls had fun doing that.

Before long The Tavern was open and we ate some good pizza. I found a tick crawling on me. I'm a tick magnet. I must have brushed against a single blade of grass at some point.

The traffic in Helen was moderate, for Helen, which is usually pretty slammed.

 Helen Traffic

My original plan was to check out Horsetrough Falls, then go drive up Mount Yonah and hike around a bit up there. Apparently though, the road up Mount Yonah goes through a gated community. You can't just drive up. And the hike is three miles each way, very strenuous and usually overgrown in the summer. Clark and Suzy had tried to get up there three different times and each time some odd thing made them turn around. Probably not a good idea today.

We drove up to Horsetrough though. The road has been regraded and it was super dusty. The trailhead was at the back of the Upper Chattahoochee Campground. Not 50 feet onto the trail, Suzy spotted a little ringneck snake. It was exactly the same size and kind of snake that Iz saw at Dukes Creek last weekend. Very cute.

Iz found a wasp nest.

 Wasp Nest

Not quite as cute.

It took us longer to get our stuff out of the cars than to get from the cars to the falls. Seriously, I think Horsetrough is the most accessible falls in the entire national forest. The trail to it can't be even 300 yards long, and involves zero feet of climbing.

The falls itself is awesomely tall, but you can't get too close to it.

 Horsetrough Falls

The observation platform gives you a good look, but there are "don't go past me" signs and I can kind of see why. The creek flows over the falls and spreads out on a long, wavy slab of rock. To get a better look, you'd need to walk out on the slab and it could be pretty dangerous.

It was anticlimactic at best. We'd hoped to play in the water a bit, but there was no chance of that here.

I'd heard of another falls up there though, High Shoals. While riding up Trey Mountain last year, a buddy of mine just happened to drive by on his way up to the falls and told me about it. Maybe it would be better. We headed that way, but I don't have the best mind-map of that area. I know all the roads, but I don't have a good feel for how long some of them are or exactly where stuff is on each road. The route I took was analogous to driving from Atlanta to New York through Denver. "A very scenic route" :)

We got there eventually and it looked a lot more promising. The trail was super nice. Well, maybe a little cling on the steps and some impressive creep... minor details. It looked like maybe there had been two old roadbeds on either side of the creek at one time. The current trail followed one down, then switched back and picked up the other. Side trails lead down from the main trail to two different cascades.

Clark had been to the upper cascade once before. Group photo:

 Clark, Suzy, Kids at High Shoals

Much cooler than Horsetrough. There was a deep pool at the bottom too. The kids wanted to go play in the water. They'd even brought crocs and swim suits just in case. But we decided to see what was further down the trail first.


 High Shoals Falls Main Cascade

The water was cold, but it was also shallow, and with 90 degree heat it was easy to get comfortable.

In this photo, Clark claims this conquered land for Spain while a native subject cowers in awe of his mighty presence.

 Clark Conquers High Shoals

The rocks were easy to climb and we climbed all over them.

 People at High Shoals Falls

Clark found this long section that you could slide down, but it slammed right into a slab of rock at the bottom just below the water. It looked awesome, mainly because I have no idea how he kept from breaking something.

Iz was a little bummed that had to keep the wraps on her left hand dry, but she still had fun. We must have played around for an hour and a half.

 The Girls in Swim Suits at High Shoals Falls

Me and the girls had brought dry clothes but we didn't need them. In the heat of the day, we were dry in minutes.

The trail continued past the main cascade and we went looking around down there. It led to private property. End of the line. We turned around.

All done. The girls and I bailed out back home and grabbed dinner at Pappadeaux with Kathryn.

What a day. Exactly what I'd hoped for. Those don't usually come around that often, but somehow I've managed to accumulate a few this year. Lucky, lucky, lucky.


  1. Thanks for including us in the adventures! We had a lot of fun.

  2. Any time man. We had fun too. Next time... Yonah :)