After being damaged by Hurricane Irma in September 2017, the waterfall observation deck at DeSoto Falls in Lumpkin County is ready for visitors.
The U.S. Forest Service, Blue Ridge Ranger District of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, along with partners and volunteers, completed reconstruction of the deck near Blood Mountain on March 18, according to information released this week by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).
The Forest Service requested emergency funds from the Washington Office after the hurricane hit and received funding in fiscal year 2018.
The severely damaged deck was removed in Spring 2018; the trail remained open without the observation deck.
The reconstruction project started March 4, 2019, and the USFS partnered with U.S. Army rangers from Camp Merrill, Mountain High Hikers, Benton MacKaye Trail Association, Georgia Appalachian Trail Club and other volunteers.
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. 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 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.