June 2019 note: The road to the falls has been widen and paved making the falls harder to find.
“The Falls of Minnehaha flash and gleam among the oak-trees, laugh and leap into the valley.” So wrote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in “The Song of Hiawatha,” referring to a falls in Minnesota, but aptly describes the Minnehaha Falls that flow into Lake Rabun, Georgia. The water drops for 100’ over horizontal layers of black shale, and pools up over flat brown rocks before continuing downstream to another smaller falls and eventually the lake. If you are a photographer, take a tripod – I was there late in the afternoon and the forest was already getting dark. Using the flash will lighten the rocks in the foreground, but the water running over the rocks will not show as much. The bottom of the falls has an excellent place to sit for portraits against the falls. Remember to use fill-flash.
Have you ever wondered why people love to visit waterfalls, mountains, pine forests, and beaches? For us photographers, the answer is obvious. But for the general public, the answer is negative ions, specifically the oxygen ion with the extra electron. Too technical? Basically, one of the effects of these negative ions is to purify the air by causing allergens to be attracted to each other and stick together, falling to the floor. They apparently have this same effect on teenagers. Scientists believe that positive ions like those emitted by computer monitors and air conditioning systems slow down the body’s absorption of oxygen. Conversely, negative ions give us a temporary euphoria from a boost of oxygen to the cells and tissues. You can buy a fancy ion generator, or you can find the nearest waterfall in a pine forest on a mountain (whew!) and camp out for a few hours. The peaceful feeling at waterfalls may also be spiritual, as David wrote in Psalm 42 verse7: “Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls.”
The ride is worth the trip, even if you are unable to hike to the falls. Old 441 winds around Lake Rabun, past a historic inn and a restaurant on the lake. Houses dot the shoreline and out onto the lake itself. There is a large campground with spaces a good distance from each other (and the bathrooms!). A trailhead to Angel Falls starts at the campground, and. the recreation area is across the road and has a nice beach and picnic area.
The hike to Minnehaha Falls is only about 1/3 mile. It is fairly steep at first, then levels off to an easy walk in the woods. Be sure to go all the way to the end – I stopped at the first falls, thinking that was it! I would like to see this trail in the fall and even in the winter when icicles drip off the rocks.
Directions from Franklin: 441 south past Clayton; turn right on old 441 at sign for Lake Rabun Rec Area; follow old 441 2 miles; left on Lake Rabun Rd.; about 5 miles; past Rec Area; left on Lake Seed Dam; cross single lane bridge; keep left on gravel rd 1.5 miles to small sign on right for Minnehaha Falls; limited parking along rd on left; The road is paved now and falls trail is hard to find. If you stay on the new road you will eventually end up in Hollywood GA.