Five Falls

Five Falls

Approximate size (acres): GA 7,615; SC 4,041
Old-growth known (acres): GA 62; SC 5

The last free flowing section of the Chattooga River before it hits Tugaloo Lake is among the wildest. The river crashes through a gorge, and drops 75 feet in a quarter mile. Tributaries in both Georgia and South Carolina plunge even more precipitously as they enter that gorge. Cliff Creek, Opossum Creek, and Long Creek all sport impressive cascades.

Between the falls and the river, the streams flow through secluded moist ravines. Steep slopes and the murmuring streams block out sights and sounds from the outside world. The moist microclimate in the ravines allows liverworts to thrive along with a host of mountain species like hemlocks and dog-hobble. Conversely, the surrounding dry ridgetops support species common farther south in Georgia, like post and southern red oaks. Floristically, the mountains are literally below the Piedmont.

The unusual combination of warmth, sheltering slopes, and moisture has contributed to trees reaching greater heights than known from anywhere else in Georgia. Georgia’s tallest known tree is a white pine here that soars to 185 feet. Several other tree species reach or approach record heights in the area, and rare species like large-fruited snakeroot and three-bird orchid also grow here. Beavers swim, but do not dam, Cliff Creek, one of five trout streams in the area.

The Raven Rock and Watergauge Trails in Georgia and the Opossum Creek Falls Trail in South Carolina provide access to this area of outstanding recreation opportunities and exceptional forest.

Help us protect this 16,000-acre oasis of waterfalls, old-growth, rare species, panoramic views, and world-class trails.


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