This is a nice, super short hike to a large and picturesque falls. If you’re hiking the Chattooga River, or shipwrecked and marooned by one of the many rafting company tours, check it out!
Is it goat approved? I will probably hike the Chattooga Trail with a goat at some point, but not today. There is little goat acceptable forage along the river except for hemlocks (which are near threatened and will probably be endangered in the future – so no eating) and there are tons of highly poisonous mountain laurel and rhododendron bushes around. You would need to bring chaffe hay to feed the goat. Or it will eat the poisonous stuff and croak…
How you get there: You want to go to the Chattooga Trail Trailhead off Forest Rd. 646 located at34°58’29.3″N 83°06’53.1″W.
Time for the hike: 1 mile out and back from the parking area/trail head to the waterfall and back. The hike is mostly along the river and flat or nearly flat ground, until you turn to go to the falls, then there’s some minor uphill switch backing. I would rate this as family friendly and easy, but you will need balance to cross the water crossing and in wet weather water proof shoes would be a good idea.
Best season to do this hike: Straight up winter. No bugs from the muddy sections of the trail, fewer people, and better breezes.
Trails to Take
If you start off at the trail head park on the side of the road, (or go up the road towards Hwy 107 and park at the big parking area) and then hike down the trail. The route is easy, follows the river, and requires no uphill or down hill hiking. There is one significant stream crossing that may be a problem if you have bad balance or do not have water proof shoes about a mile in, just before the turn off to Spoonauger Falls. The side trail is marked, and goes off to your right up the stream you just crossed. This section IS uphill, along a series of short switch backs, then across to the base of the falls, which requires a minor rock scramble to reach. Easy, kid friendly, and definitely worth a visit.
- The river used to be surrounded by a gorgeous hemlock forest of several hundred year old trees, (no really, it was like a magical elf level fairy land forest). Thanks to the wooly adelgid these are now gone, but their children are still struggling to make a comeback. So be kind to the baby hemlocks, and avoid rubbing up against them and carrying the wooly adelgids on your clothes to new forests for them to kill!
- The stream crossing on the hike about a mile from Forest Service Rd 646 will require some balance and possibly getting your toes wet. My mother has a bad knee and did not feel comfortable trying to cross this area with non-water proof shoes.
- You cannot camp near the trail head or along the road or along the river near either of the above. Plan accordingly.
Why is it that the release of potential energy through gravity assisted water transference is always so totally worth getting muddy, spending gas money, and endangering the cohesive unity of your oil pan for?