It was a warm Georgia saturday in June when we set off to find the real Emery Creek Falls. My dad and I hopped in his Jeep Wrangler and drove up Georgia 411 towards the Chattooga Wilderness. This time armed with the map and directions in my book we drove north to Chatsworth and then east till we reached CCC Camp Road (This time on the other side of the mountain from where I had tried to find the falls before). After following the gravel road for about 5 minutes we pulled into the parking lot with a yellow lettered sign reading “Emery Creek Falls”. We had found it! We climbed out of the Jeep, put on our bug spray, and quickly went to examine trail map. We looked at it for a few seconds and quickly hit the trail. The trail begins to go up a little bit then flattening out with a steep hill going down to the creek on your left and then opens up to an open area where two creeks meet up. We crossed to the middle ground between the two creeks where there was a little area to camp with a rock fire pit. We looked around for where the trail continued and spotted a cairn about twenty feet up the right fork of the creek. We followed various cairns and a small trail for about two thirds of a mile before finding that we had lost our trail. We had read that the trail was very difficult to follow and had twenty plus water crossings so we figured instead of getting ticks in the thick brush we would just hop from rock to rock up the creek till we found our trail again. So we hopped and hopped debating which rock was the best to hop to next and which ones were exceptionally slippery. At one point we came to another fork and decided to stick left. Just as we began to carry on hopping up the left creek we couldn’t find a good way to carry on because there was a sudden lack of hopping rocks and thick rhododendrons growing on either side of the creek. So we took of our socks and shoes and walked through the shin high water till we arrived to where the second fork met back up with our creek and it became better for playing leap frog on the rocks. After a little more hopping up the creek like young kids exploring the vast wilderness of their backyard, we were walking in a rocky island in the middle of the creek and just as I was about to hop onto a little beach on the shore I spotted a quite large copperhead snake basking in the summer sun right where my landing zone was. I decided not to jump there and instead retreat a little bit with my dad as the snake had spotted us and was slithering in our direction. We quickly put our socks and shoes back on and concocted the genius plan to just run swiftly around the snake that had slithered behind a rock in the water about a foot from the shore where we would be running. My dad went first (While I held a large rock just in case the snake decided to strike) and he made it through clean. I made my attempt and successfully passed the snake by without agitating it anymore. After that we kept on hopping (Looking out for snakes behind every rock) and we passed a few more creek forks and came to a spot where the water was too deep and rockless to pass so we shimmied up a large fallen tree and climbed through brush and pine straw all while cursing the non-existent trail. We made our way back to the creek and started back at our rock hopping until we ran into two young hikers that seemed just as lost as us coming from the other direction. We asked if they knew where the falls were but they said they were just exploring but had seen a few small waterfalls earlier. With hope that these were indeed our waterfalls we kept on for about half a mile until we came to a one or two foot waterfall and admired it for a second and kept on. Then we came to a nice little water fall that fell into a pool and then again into our creek. At about eight feet high we decided these were the falls we were looking for and took some pictures while eating our peanut butter sandwiches we had packed for a snack. After resting and looking at our waterfall for about fifteen minutes we decided it was time to head back and then went back the way we came. We passed our friends from earlier and passed all the forks in the creek and we didn’t see the snake again and we arrived back at the trailhead in what felt like no time. We felt satisfied in finally finding our waterfall despite the trail not being there but then we got to talking with a man that was about to go hike. He informed us that the waterfall was sixty feet tall and impossible to miss. With those words our hearts sank because our waterfall was definitely not sixty feet tall meaning we had not found the real Emery Creek Falls after all. We went and looked at the map to see where we went wrong and quickly discovered that we had been fooled by the cairns and we should taken the other fork at the very beginning of our journey. “Oh well” we said and planned to follow the real trail another time. We went and got some Taco Bell on the way home and then to end off our day on a nice note we got a ticket for going too fast through White County (Although we still think the ticket was ridiculous).
Thanks for reading! Join us next week to see if Emery Creek Falls really exists or is just some sort of Twilight Zone!! -Josh