Height: 90 feet
Trail Type: Dirt
Hike Distance: 1.8 miles round trip
From a topographical standpoint, DeSoto Falls is confusing. Normally, waterfalls that carry “Upper,” “Middle,” and/or “Lower” prefixes usually means that all of the falls are on the same stream. Here, every waterfall named DeSoto Falls is on a different tributary of Frogtown Creek. The area was given the DeSoto name because a piece of Spanish armor believed to have belonged to DeSoto’s expedition was found near one of the falls.
What I’ve labeled as Upper DeSoto Falls was originally Middle DeSoto Falls. Back in the early 1990s, a series of severe storms, including blizzards and tornadoes, destroyed the trail to the third, “upper” DeSoto Falls. As of now, over two decades later, the Forest Service is claiming that the trail is under “natural restoration,” meaning they likely have no plans of reopening it to hikers. That’s a shame, because the true Upper DeSoto Falls is allegedly over 200 feet high. Instead, this Upper DeSoto Falls is 90 feet high and drops down four distinct ledges to the base.
From the intersection of US 76 and US 19 (The Glenn Gooch Bypass) in Blairsville, head south on US 19 for just over 17 miles to the DeSoto Falls Recreation Area on the right. This is a little over 5 miles from Helton Creek Road. There is a $3 fee to park here.
The hike starts at the parking area and brings you over to the campground. After crossing Frogtown Creek, you can choose to go to the left to Lower DeSoto Falls (discussed next) or right to Upper DeSoto Falls. Obviously you go right. It’s ¾ of a mile to the base, which starts out level before making a gradual ascent up the ridge to the wooden viewing platform at the base.