GEORGIA: Wagon Drivers Hidden Falls

Honestly, I saw the icon for this on Google and went “Wait. I’ve never heard of a waterfall at Brasstown. What gives?”. What gives is an easy hike on the less beaten of trails at Brasstown Bald. While Wagon Drivers Hidden Falls isn’t a spectacular plunge pool monstrosity, it is the only waterfall you’ll get on the Bald. It’s also about halfway down the 7 mi stretch of Wagon Train Trail from the Brasstown Bald parking lot to the back of the dorms at Young Harris. Most importantly, you walk the easy half of the trail to reach it from Brasstown Bald. If suffering is more your thing, you can come up to it from Young Harris too of course.

Is it goat approved? You could probably bring a goat up from Young Harris, but a goat at Brasstown Bald might result in you becoming an Internet meme.

How you get there: Park at Brasstown Bald. You will have to pay for parking here – $3 in winter and $5 in the summer. Per person.

Time for hike: Wagon Train trail and the mini falls is visible on Google. To the mini falls is about 2.65 miles one way, or about 5.3 miles round trip. 

Best season to do this hike: Winter – you can see more of the views with the leaves off the trees.


Trails to Take

Starting off at the Brasstown Bald parking lot, go up the paved trail past the bathroom as if you are heading for the top of the bald. About a football field length up this trail Wagon Train Trail crosses as an unpaved roadbed. There is a historical marker if you’re into that sort of thing.

Old blasting grooves cut into the rock face

The historical roadbed dates from the actual time of wagon based travel in mountains. Originally built by convict labor to allow local families to meet and mingle, during certain parts of the hike the original blasting bores used to turn vertical rock faces into horizontal road bed may be seen. The fact that it is an old roadbed means the trail is wide, obvious, and for much of its length proceeds downhill at a leisurely and unexpectedly easy pace. I was told by another hiker however that shortly after the mini falls, and particularly on the last 2 miles before reaching Young Harris, the trail drops steeply. The walk to the falls though will be filled with exciting overlooks (in winter) and a deceptively easy grade.

Turn right onto the road bed, and a short walk through dense rhododendron thickets will lead you to a clearing where the forest service dumps fallen trees, and afterwards a vehicle gate followed by a trail kiosk. Further travel takes you along a ridge line of moss covered boulders overlooking distant valleys and a sign announcing entrance to the Brasstown Bald Wilderness. As a wilderness area is camp-able in GA there are two campsites on the hike that are very nearly in the middle of the trail.

View from the trail in winter
Brasstown Bald Observation Tower is just barely visible on top of the mountains

The trail descends slowly and easily following the ridge line, with continued impressive views, including a very distant view of the observation tower on top of Brasstown Bald itself. Watch the mileage counter as you descend among the moss, rock faces, and boulders – the waterfall is truly hidden and you have to stop and look to find it.

Part of the very well hidden Wagon Drivers Waterfall

The trail starts to drop more steeply, rounds a bend past the second of to extant stone fire rings, and shortly thereafter the 2.3mi trip ends at an unassuming stream crossing the trail. If you look to the right, moving around the rhododendron in wet weather, a small but pleasant cascade is visible. Is it big? No. Is it spectacular? Hardly. But on a wet winter’s day after 2.3mi of overlooks, rock walls, and spectacular mossy boulder fields, it doesn’t need to be. It just needs to be the turning around point.


TRAIL MAP

BE WARNED

  1. You will have to pay to park at Brasstown Bald.
  2. Tends to be popular on the Brasstown Bald end. The middle of the trail is pretty quiet.
  3. The trail is an old road bed, but there are boulders, wet spots, and uneven terrain which may make it unsuitable for very small children or people with bad knees in places. In general though, a relatively in shape person with a reasonable sense of balance or a pair of hiking poles will not have a problem.

In sum: 

Everyone thinks the dog is some fancy expensive breed. It’s actually just an unpapered muddy Great Pyrenees with expensive tastes. 

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