Okay, it’s confession time. I confess that sometimes I get cravings.
Just the other day, for instance, I found myself Craving #1, the overwhelming desire for some old-fashioned root beer — you know, the kind made with (dare I say it) real sugar.
At other times I experience Craving #2, in which I long intensely for a good cheeseburger. You know, the kind you used to get at a small-town diner. Greasy? You bet. That’s where the flavor is.
Unfortunately, there’s a footnote here. To wit: The unavoidable consequence of too much of Cravings #1 and #2 is a few more pounds around the middle.
Shucks. How can I deal with those pounds? Hmmm. And aha! How about I get outside and hike to a waterfall?
Maybe…Rabun County’s Darnell Creek Falls!
Darnell Creek Falls is located near the town of Dillard, Ga., in extreme northeastern Georgia. With a height of about 30 feet, it’s not a giant as north Georgia waterfalls go. But it’s scenic, and the walk to it is a short one (a plus on hot days, even in the mountains).
And it’s easy to get to. In fact, you can drive almost all the way to it, basking in your vehicle’s air conditioning until the very last minute. Who could ask for more?
To get to Darnell Creek Falls, head north on U.S. 441 from Clayton toward Rabun Gap. Not quite 6 miles north of Clayton, look for the Rabun Gap Post Office on your right. Turn right onto Kelly’s Creek Road, go about a mile, and then turn right again onto Darnell Creek Road.
You’ll soon come to a very confusing fork in the road which offers three choices of which way to go. The two prongs on the right are private; take the left fork, which goes down a hill and soon crosses a creek. Just across the creek the road turns right, and you’ll be on Forest Service Road 150 as it takes off into the hills.
Continue about a quarter mile to a fork where the main road goes left and uphill while a rugged spur goes right and downhill. That spur takes you to Darnell Creek Falls.
Before going farther, I’ve got to tell you that the spur can be rough. It’s narrow and can be rutted and muddy with little or no turnaround room. Thus, because the spur is potentially so unforgiving, many waterfall watchers park on the relative safety of FS-150 and then hike down the spur to the falls. It’s not far, and the walk will help you work off that soda and cheeseburger. All things considered, that’s not a bad plan.
As you follow the spur, it won’t be long until you catch your first glimpse of the falls. Then, in just a moment, you’ll come to a wide spot where the spur ends. The waterfall, at that point, is plainly visible and audible too.
And now I’m going to climb up on my soapbox — but not to get a better view of the falls.
There, in that wide spot, as in countless other wide spots near countless other scenic spots throughout almost any national forests, you may find urban detritus (that is, trash) laying around. Plastic bottles…empty juice boxes…crumpled aluminum foil…and on and on. Somebody brought that stuff in. Why couldn’t they carry it out? Sometimes I’ve found this area in near-pristine condition. But other times, before leaving, I’ve filled up a big plastic bag with other people’s trash. Why folks leave their trash behind is beyond me, but they do. I just don’t get it.
But enough of that. Let’s get back to the waterfall.
Where’s the best place to see Darnell Creek Falls? There are a number of good vantage points, though the favorite of many is from the creek itself a few dozen yards downstream. The amount of leaf cover may have as much to do with finding the best view as anything, but that’s the case on almost any waterfall adventure.
No matter which vantage point you choose, however, remember that exploring waterfalls can be a risky endeavor. The same splashing water and angled rocks that make a waterfall so nice to look at also make for potentially hazardous conditions. And (to belabor the point just a little) it goes without saying that you should NEVER try to climb a waterfall. Not ever. Not even once. Every year, folks ignore that advice and are hurt or killed in waterfall-related falls. Be careful when exploring waterfalls — this one or any other. Remember that you, and only you, are responsible for your safety.
After soaking up the sight and sound of Darnell Creek Falls, you may find that the waterfalls bug has bitten. Are there other falls to see in the same general area? Indeed there are.
But those adventures will have to wait for later. Right now I’ve decided it’s time for a root beer.
Then, after the refreshment is done, I’m off to see another falls. This one is farther back in the woods, and some hiking will be involved…and I know a great place for a cheeseburger on the way home…