Recently I was off work for a holiday no one else seems to have, so of course I took the opportunity to go hiking! I was also feeling pretty lazy though, since it was a holiday. So I stayed close to home and worked on my love/hate relationship with Dawson County. I absolutely love the hiking and scenery in Dawson County. I think it’s completely underrated. On the other hand, almost every single bad thing that has ever happened to me while outdoors has happened in Dawson County. Most of it related to human error, but I find I don’t have nearly as many human errors in other places. I don’t know how to explain it, but I keep going back (mainly because I live 15 minutes from the county line).
So this particular day’s excursion started off with a trip to Bearden Falls. Due to prior experiences getting lost while hiking in Dawson County (has never happened anywhere else), I tempered my expectations for this hike. I was “pretty sure” I knew where the trailhead was, due to passing it on other occasions while trying to find other trailheads (and getting lost). So I parked, found a trail, and started walking. I was very cautious, ran my GPS tracker, and took mental notes of every turn and creek crossing. I really did not know if this was the right trail, but the waterfall was supposed to be about 1.5 miles in so if I didn’t reach it at that point, I planned to turn around.
As I hiked, I didn’t really even care if I got to the falls because the trail scenery was so beautiful! The creek was absolutely stunning with several small water crossings and beautiful little cascades all along the way. The trail was pretty muddy in some spots, but other than that it was a really nice trail. I had a feeling I would eventually reach a waterfall because the trail pretty much follows the creek and eventually started to gain elevation. There weren’t too many leaves on the trees yet, so suddenly I saw the falls peeking through the trees!
I climbed a little further and suddenly came up to the side of the falls. The trail seemed to stop and I do not think it would be safe to try to climb further. The falls were absolutely beautiful and rushing from all the rain we received in the prior weeks. Bearden Falls is about 100 feet with some lovely rock formations for the water to spill over. There is not a lot of space to stand or climb around but, fortunately, I was the only person there. I exercise a lot of caution around waterfalls and I would never encourage anyone to climb on a fall. This one was very steep and a tumble could easily be fatal.
I spent a few minutes marveling at the cool water rushing off the falls and enjoying the peaceful scenery. The sun was still low behind the mountains and the air was cool, but starting to warm. I just felt so lucky I was able to find this waterfall and enjoy the beauty of it. I can now also say I have officially climbed the “Three Sisters of Dawson County”- Amicalola, Cochran’s, and Bearden Falls. Two of the highest falls in the state, plus a not too shabby 100 footer. That being said, a lot is said on social media about keeping these kinds of places “a secret”. Amicalola is obviously NOT a secret, but the other 2 are much lesser traveled.
I want people to get out and see beautiful places, but to do so responsibly. I don’t want to pretend I am somehow special enough to visit a place, but you are not. I found Bearden through trial and error (no actual error this time), so obviously other people can as well. But it’s imperative to be responsible. There are beautiful campsites all along the road to the trailhead, but every single of one of them was trashed! I cleaned up a few of them, but I’d like to go back and do a more organized clean up. It would take a lot of garbage bags!
I was feeling really high on life after I visited Bearden, so I decided to cap off the day with a trip to “The Edge of the World”. I brought my hammock and just lay by the river for an hour or two. Much of that time was spent watching a heron fish in the river. It was a beautiful bird! This is another spot that is frequently trashed, due to it being located on Highway 53 (no secret here). On weekends it’s packed with people drinking and partying, but on a nice, quiet weekday I was pretty much the only one there. I almost fell asleep in my hammock, so I packed up and started to head home, after a quick stop at my other favorite place in Dawsonville- the super, extra, Kroger department store! That’s the real secret reason I go to Dawsonville. I love shopping at that store. Just kidding…