LUMPKIN COUNTY, Ga. — The U.S. Forest Service, Blue Ridge Ranger District of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, and volunteers completed reconstruction of the DeSoto Falls Waterfall Observation Deck near Blood Mountain in Lumpkin County March 18.
Following Hurricane Irma damage to the observation deck, the Forest Service requested emergency funds from the Washington Office, and received funding in fiscal year 2018. The severely broken deck was removed in Spring of 2018, and the trail remained open without the observation deck.
The reconstruction project started March 4, by the Forest Service in partnership with U.S. Army Rangers from Georgia’s Camp Merrill, Mountain High Hikers, Benton MacKaye Trail Association, Georgia Appalachian Trail Club, and other partners.
Expert mountaineers from Camp Merrill used the opportunity as a training event to set up a rope suspension system to transport 8,000 pounds of lumber from the trailhead, across the creek, onto a transport, down a half mile of trail and across the creek again then up to the base of the waterfall.
Nearly 20 volunteers worked together to move all the materials to the project site, and achieved a lot in a short amount of time. Battling cold weather and abundant rain, construction began later that week. The substructure was complete in three days, the deck was laid the next week, and handrails and structural bracing was finished March 18.
DeSoto Falls is a very popular area for weekend Blue Ridge Ranger District forest visitors, and while there is still work to do on the trail, the recreation area provides a high quality opportunity to visit these waterfalls.
Visitors can also go to the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests website at www.fs.usda.gov/conf or contact a Forest Service office for directions, information about recreation areas, safety tips, news and special events. Contact a local Forest Service office by calling:
Blue Ridge District Office, Blairsville, Ga. – 706-745-6928
Chattooga River District Office, Lakemont, Ga. – 706-754-6221
Conasauga District Office, Chatsworth, Ga. – 706-695-6736
Oconee District Office, Eatonton, Ga. – 706-485-7110
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