Commonly Backpacked · Geological Significance · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall
Explore the area's flora and fauna on this scenic, lightly-traveled North Georgia hike. This route includes a portion of Bartram Trail #164 - South
and Holcomb Creek Trail #52
and makes for an especially rewarding hike. About halfway through the loop, you'll summit Rabun Bald, the second highest peak in Georgia. Be sure to climb the fire tower for incredible panoramic views!
After a steep and technical descent, you'll get to enjoy the mighty 120-ft Holcomb Creek Falls, shortly followed by the serene 100-ft Ammons Creek Falls.
All trails are well-marked and easy to follow. Requires some hiking on Forest Service roads.
Overall, the hike is lightly travelled aside from the most popular two-mile section up to Rabun Bald on the Bartram Trail (near Beegum Gap Trailhead).
Need to Know
Do not expect reliable water sources going up and down the bald, however there are plenty of water sources on the Holcomb Creek Trail #52
This hike begins at the junction of Hale Ridge Rd (USFS 7) and USFS 696. These Forest Service roads are relatively well-maintained and do NOT require 4x4 or high clearance vehicles, however, watch out for holes and hikers. There is no designated parking lot, however, there is a campsite at this junction along with a few areas to park alongside the road. The area is not normally busy so finding a parking spot should not be a problem.
You'll start by ascending northbound on Hale Ridge road for about two miles before turning left onto Bartram Trail #164 - South
, heading southbound. This part of the trail includes some slightly technical singletrack for about 1.5 miles until it reaches an intersection with access to the Beegum Gap Trailhead, the most popular portion of the route, at which point you'll continue straight on the Bartram Trail, however the trail will open up to doubletrack and you'll likely encounter more hikers. In the winter when the leaves are down, there are a few opportunities for lovely views on this portion of the trail; the trail will get steeper from this point to the summit of Rabun Bald. Less than a mile later, you'll encounter an open junction with a campsite; follow the sign to the left to continue the ascent to Rabun Bald for about another mile.
At the top of the bald, be sure to climb the stairs of the fire tower to take in one of Georgia's most stunning views. After enjoying the fruits of your labor, prepare for a quad-killer descent down the Rabun Bald Trail
. This trail heads southeast from the top of the bald, then travels east back toward Hale Ridge Road. Do NOT continue southwest on the Bartram Trail #164 - South
. The Rabun Bald Trail
has at least two campsites and a few views in the winter. Following a long (~3mi), rather technical descent from the bald, you'll finally reach Hale Ridge Road (USFS 7), at which point you should take a left, heading northbound on the Forest Service road.
After about a mile on USFS 7, you'll come to the intersection of Hale Ridge Road, Overflow Creek Rd, and the Holcomb Creek Trail #52
trailhead. Follow the sign onto Holcomb Creek Trail #52
. This ~one-mile trail is one of the best parts of the hike, with technical terrain and many water features. The trail begins by descending for about half a mile. You'll first encounter Holcomb Creek Falls less than half a mile into the trail. Following the falls, you'll begin a steep ascent, where you'll come to an intersection. Continue straight to view Ammons Creek Falls (another must-see on this hike!!). This portion of the trail is a very short out-and-back (only about 200ft off the main trail) and highly worth it! Don't let the additional bit of ascending deter you!
After viewing Ammons Creek Falls, head west to finish the ascent to Hale Ridge Road where you'll then briefly travel northbound on the gravel road back to the intersection of Hale Ridge Road (USFS 7) and USFS 696.
Flora & Fauna
Rhododendrons, mosses, ferns.
History & Background
Part of this hike includes the Bartram Trail, a 115-mile trail in Georgia and North Carolina named after naturalist William Bartram. The trail generally follows the route explored by William Bartram in the 1770s.
Shared By: Perrin Clavijo