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Winter waterfalls delight 

Canoe Kids and Canoe Dog set out to find the falls. Photos by Melissa Lowrie

Canoe Kids
By Melissa Lowrie
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  Melissa Lowrie

Were I the plan-ahead type, last December I would have taken the kids to a spectacular, holiday-themed light extravaganza and tucked it away for this year’s December column.  

Sadly, this was not to be. And in the case of a monthly publication, deadlines are quite early in the preceding month, therefore making it impossible to share a Christmas outing when I haven’t even bought the Thanksgiving turkey.

For what it’s worth, Callaway Gardens, Lanier Islands and Stone Mountain have holiday light events that are (probably, quite) lovely. I may get to one this season and plan ahead for 2015. But I hear a leopard can’t change her spots ...

Regardless of impending holidays, here’s what we did on a beautiful, late fall afternoon. And I’m banking on some warm(ish) December days ... fingers crossed.

Waterfall hunting. Trust me, this sounds better to a kid than a hike or “let’s go get some exercise and fresh air.” And for the older ones, maybe a small fib about a possible zombie sighting? Whatever gets them out of the house and away from the devices with as little complaining as possible. It will be worth it when you hear a kid say “awesome” at the end of the trail.

  Behold, DeSoto Falls.

There are lots of beautiful waterfalls in North Georgia that are easy to get to and provide a great opportunity for a family outing. Here are a few of our favorites.

Amicalola Falls
The closest to Big Canoe is Amicalola Falls (Canoe Kids Aug. 2011, Just 15 minutes away, the largest waterfall in Georgia is impressive at 729 feet. Tucked into Amicalola Falls State Park, there are trails all over the property for hikers of all abilities.

DeSoto Falls
DeSoto Falls in Lumpkin County is in the Chattahoochee National Forest. The falls are named for Hernando DeSoto, the Spanish explorer. According to the sign, the falls were named for the explorer after a piece of armor was found nearby that was believed to be his, or a friend of his, or his third cousin. Whatever, it’s a cool name either way.

To see the largest of the falls, it’s an easy trail of about two miles. With spectacular scenery at any time of the year—dogs, kids, grandparents and any other outdoor-type will enjoy the trip.

About an hour from Big Canoe, you’ll drive through Dahlonega to get there, which is a great place to stop for a bite before or after.

Cloudland Canyon
Cloudland Canyon State Park in Walker County is a couple hours drive from Big Canoe, but is worth a trip. With campsites, yurts and cottages, there are plenty of options if you want an economical overnight adventure.

The views are spectacular from the western edge of Lookout Mountain with a massive gorge created by Sitton Gulch Creek. The park’s elevation ranges from 800 to 1,980 feet.

  Bring a camera to the falls for some great photo opportunities.
Cherokee Falls and Hemlock Falls are both on park property with access via “strenuous and time-consuming, two-mile hike,” per Beautiful, but save this one for the older kids.

High Shoals Falls
North of Helen in Towns County, this 2.7 mile (roundtrip) trail takes hikers to two waterfalls: High Shoals and Blue Hole.

About an hour and a half from Big Canoe, Blue Hole is popular with swimmers in the warmer months and is aptly named for the blue pool created at the base of the waterfall.

All the previously mentioned areas have picnic sights and some offer camping. Check out or for additional information. Both are great resources for waterfalls and trails in the area.

Here’s to the gift of mild winter days and an excuse to get outside. As always, enjoy your adventures with your Canoe Kids. We hope you have a very happy holiday season.




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