After leaving Dalton on my most recent trip, I drove a little too far out of the way en route home and went to the Tumbling Waters trail near Carter's Lake. I pass Carter's Lake going home from Dalton anyways, but this trail is a little further northwest than my usual route. It was a very worthy detour, though! In general, I find Carter's Lake to be very pretty. The water is usually a nice shade of blue-green and the terrain surrounding it is hilly and interesting to look at. I'd never actually been to Carter's Lake to hike, though. The Tumbling Waters trail caught my eye after I read about it on Atlanta Trails.
This hike has a lot going for it. It's not far from downtown Ellijay, which is a great place to visit as well. The trail shares a parking area with a boat launch and some nice picnic areas. There are also mountain bike trails just up the road. So there are lots of options for recreation, which is good if you're going with people who have different interests. The trail itself is very short, barely a mile in length. It's also relatively flat. A great workout it is not, but for those wanting a leisurely stroll or taking children or others who may not be able to hike great distances, it is perfect.
The trail starts out near the lake and maintains some lake views for a very short distance. It then wends into the woods and crosses a very a small creek. After no time at all, you'll start to hear the water rushing from a larger creek and see a bridge come into view. What I loved most about this trail, is the fantastic bridge that crosses the creek. The bridge is about 30 feet above the water, so you can really get good views from it. It's not a swinging bridge, either, so it's nice and stable for taking pictures. After crossing the bridge, the trail continues to the right hand side and reaches a viewing platform. I then walked down to the water and continued back up the shore area to the bridge, before rejoining the main trail.
There are no substantial waterfalls on this trail, but lots and lots of tiny, perfectly picturesque cascades. It was seriously unreal looking. I thought I was in love with the little waterfall from Burnt Mountain Preserve, but Tumbling Waters is now my new fave. I love stairstep waterfalls and this one is exceptional. Unfortunately, I couldn't spend my whole evening admiring the water because a huge storm popped up and I was practically running for the car. But, there really was a silver lining to this storm. While driving home, I saw a huge rainbow all the way from Ellijay into Dawson County and then saw a DOUBLE RAINBOW in Dawsonville. Can't beat that!
Some practical notes about visiting Tumbling Waters- the entrance road is gravel for about a mile or 2. It's really hard packed, though, so I think any vehicle could make it safely. There is also a $5 cash parking fee or Annual Pass required. And please leave no trace! Unfortunately, I saw lots of garbage near the water and did not have a bag with me to pick it up. So the obvious solution would be for the people who brought it there to not leave it in the first place! LNT!!