If Outdoor Adventure is what your looking for this Summer – then Rabun County is your destination. Conveniently located just 90 miles from Atlanta this small northern corner of Georgia is bordered by South Carolina and North Carolina. All roads lead to wilderness and the great outdoors in Rabun County, as approximately, 60% of the land is in National Forest and State Parks, plus approximately 20% is held by by Georgia Power for Lake Burton, Rabun, Seed, and Tallulah. Rabun County has 148,684 acres which is some of the largest portion of 18 county area of the Chattahoochee National Forest. An arial view of this area reveals byways of wilderness with a vast array of high, rugged mountains, deep valleys and raging rivers. One cannot actually see the Eastern Continental Divide bordering Georgia’s 2nd highest peak, Rabun Bald; yet the ridges hosts over 60 peaks between 3-4,000 feet in elevation along the Bartram Trail founded by Rabun’s earliest explorer and naturalist in 1775. Rabun County boasts having “three Georgia State Parks” with Moccasin Creek State Park on Lake Burton, Black Rock Mountain State Park to the North and Tallulah Falls State Park to the South of it’s border. The area has numerous hiking trails in both State Parks plus a portion of the Appalachian Trail winds through on the western border and a 37-mile portion of the Bartram Trail. Picturesque waterfalls abound and many can be easily reached by relatively short trails. Located in Mountain City off Hwy. 441 Black Rock Mountain takes it’s name from the shear dark granite wall that is visible from long distances. Within the State Park there are four scenic overlooks. The Cowee Overlook is the first on the drive in, and actually sits almost directly above the Ada-Hi Falls, but the falls are not visible from the overlook. The Nantahala Overlook is located in the RV parking circle. The Blue Ridge Overlook and Black Rock Overlook is adjacent to the Visitors Center and Trading Post. Visitors enjoying backpacking for day trips, hiking on the trails and fishing on the 17 acre lake. Near the State Park is home to the famed “Foxfire” Museum & Heritage Center. The project of Foxfire magazine was based on interviewing local people and publishing their stories, which inspired numerous schools across the country to develop similar programs. The museum offers a self-guided tour through the authentic village showing the trades of early settlers. Visitors will see many traditional folk galleries in the area, plus refined rustic antique shops in nearby Dillard Georgia. This beautiful valley land is famous for it’s farmland and family-style meals at the Dillard House Restaurant serving the community since 1917. The Dillard family earned the title of the earliest documented white settlers in 1794 and legend has it that to make peace with the local Cherokee Indians gifts were given for all the land between two mountain tops. Located one mile east of Dillard is the Hoojah Branch Indian burial mound, which is listed on [...]
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See All the Sautee Nacoochee Sites as the Heart and Heritage of Northeast Georgia is Revealed through a New Mobile Phone App Thanks to a new project led by the Sautee Nacoochee Center (SNC), visitors, families and students can now discover sites of historic and cultural significance throughout White County, Georgia using a new, free mobile phone app. “Explore Helen Sautee GA” provides maps, directions using your location, and an audio guide to nearby key points of interest. It covers landmarks and landforms ranging from the 19th century county courthouse in Cleveland to the ancient trail that became the Unicoi Turnpike. Information about folk potters and pottery shops and collections are identified by the app as well as picturesque “view-sheds” sought-out by plein air artists. Further links provide a wealth of additional information for the curious traveler. Guidelines for inclusion in the app are based upon the National Register of Historic Sites parameters. “Explore Helen Sautee GA” is free and available to download from app stores in iPhone and Android versions. No phone? A 6-panel brochure of the Landmarks & Sites tour is available at hotels and tourist offices across the region, or at the Sautee Nacoochee Center, the starting point for all tours. The project was funded in part through a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission, application sponsored by Georgia Mountain Regional Commission. Local funding was provided by the Sautee Nacoochee Community Association in cooperation with the Sautee Nacoochee History Museum, a SNC committee, with matching funding from the Lumsden/History Museum Fund, and White County Board of Commissioners, Travis Turner, Chair. These tours reveal both ancient and modern stories of Sautee Nacoochee. Two millennia of Native American life were followed by two centuries of rapid change – people growing food, mining gold, lumbering forests, enduring slavery, the Civil War, reviving agricultural wealth, weathering the Great Depression and more war, and lately, developing tourism. Railroads, automobiles, electricity, telephones and tourism have changed life in these mountains, but what has not changed is the deep sense of community that treasures its people and the rich, beautiful land. The app and brochure were produced by the Sautee Nacoochee Community Association, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, which is located at 283 Highway 255 N, Sautee Nacoochee, GA 30571. The galleries and museums are open 7 days a week except certain holidays. Offices are open business hours Monday to Friday. For more information, visit snca.org or call 706-878-3300.
Rated as one of America’s 20 Best State Parks by Adventure Journal and one of Georgia’s seven wonders, Tallulah Gorge draws admirers as one of the most breathtaking sites. The Niagara Falls of the Southeast is a 1,000-foot gash in Tallulah Dome that drops the Tallulah River over six waterfalls in one mile. Mountain biking and hiking are popular here, as well as some serious multipitch rock climbing. But the real deal here is boating, rafting and kayaking the Tallulah when the upstream Georgia Power Company opens its dam, a few times a year. Tallulah Gorge State Park has spectacular 1,739 acres of wilderness with recreational opportunities from Georgia’s State Parks. Highlights of Tallulah Falls include: The Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center that highlights the rich history of this Victorian resort town, as well as the rugged terrain and fragile ecosystem of the area. Additionally, an award-winning film takes viewers on a dramatic journey through the gorge. Recreation abounds with picnic areas, campgrounds, overlooks, 6 Hiking trails, stairs leading down into the gorge and even a suspension bridge that crosses the canyon 80 feet above its bottom. There is shore and boat fishing on all 3 lakes: Tallulah, Tugalo, & Yonah. Spend the afternoon picnicking at Terrora Beach, or play on the tennis courts. There is a public beach for swimming on Tallulah Lake & public playground located at the day use area of Tallulah Gorge State Park. Tallulah Gorge State Park is open daily from 8 a.m. until dark. There is a parking fee. The entrance is on U.S. 441 in Tallulah Falls, GA. Access to the canyon bottom is by permit only. Permits are free and can be obtained at the interpretive center, but note that ONLY 100 permits are issued per day. The park is extremely popular and the quota of permits is often filled first thing in the morning. For more information call 706-754-7981 or visit gastateparks.org/TallulahGorge.
Track Rock Gap Archaeological Area is the location of a series of soapstone boulders covered with petroglyphs made by Native Americans over 1,000 years ago. There are hundreds of carvings in a wide range of figures. It’s one of the most significant rock art sites in the Southeastern United States. Track Rock was a place of power within the sacred landscape of the American Indian Nations where the activities of ancient humans were influenced by spirit beings. It sits at the threshold of the spirit world. Rocks carved with footprints and tracks signified a doorway into the domain of dangerous spirit beings. Depictions of footprints and tracks are physical testimony that spirit beings were there at some time in the past, that they could still be lingering somewhere close by in the present, and that they may return unexpectedly at any time in the future. As early as 3,600 years ago, Native Americans were removing pieces of the soft but durable soapstone to make bowls which were particularly well suited for cooking as they held and radiated heat without breaking. The picture carvings were made by Native Americans during repeated visits over several hundred years beginning around A.D. 1,000. Most likely, the Cherokee, Catabwa and/or Creek tribes made the carvings. In the 1800’s, early American explorers discovered the Track Rock site and it has fascinated people ever since. Recording, studying and preserving of the site began in earnest in 2009. The carvings at Track Rock were made in one of two ways. Many of the figures were created by repeated blows in the same spot using hammer stones to create the desired shape. Some of the figures were created by rubbing a hard stone back and forth to carve the design into the rock. Although soapstone is considered a soft rock, it is still rock and rather hard to carve. It took a lot of time and effort to create these figures that have lasted a thousand years. Some of the shapes that can be seen include: 252 cupules, 22 oval shapes, soapstone bowl extraction scars, deer, horse, bird, squirrel, and bear tracks, cross-in-ring motifs and nested ring design, human figures, human footprints (one with 6 toes!), and one giant’s, footprint, maze-like networks, squares, tridents, zigzags, curved and straight lines, and scalloped edges. Unfortunately, signs of vandalism can be seen throughout the area in the form of square shaped depressions with flat topped pedestals in the middle that are left behind when looters chisel out the petroglyphs. There are also several areas when vandals have carved their initials over the top of the ancient marks forever destroying those petroglyphs. Track Rock Gap is open to public visitation and no fee is charged. When visiting the site, remember that the intensity of natural lighting can influence how much you are able to see. Bright mid-day sun makes it hard to see most of the figures, and the best times to visit are early or late in the day, when the light [...]
Warwoman Dell was named to honor a Cherokee Warwoman. Some believe it could have been named for Nancy Hart, the Revolutionary War era woman who may have fought at the Battle of Kettle Creek with her husband and sons. Most likely, though, it was named to honor Nancy Ward, a highly-respected “beloved woman” of the Cherokee Nation who frequented the dell and advised the Cherokee tribal council on war and peace. She was very powerful in the Cherokee clan rule, for she was the last Warwoman in the East. When the Cherokee chiefs voted to go to war, it could only happen if the Warwoman approved. The 66 steps lead to the abandoned Blue Ridge Railroad. Two moderately easy, family-friendly trails lead through this beautiful pocket of wilderness showcasing tall trees, dense vegetation, mosses, wildflowers, and three waterfalls. The hike visits the popular Becky Branch Falls, historic areas of Warwoman Dell and several smaller waterfalls on a 1.4 mile loop. While it’s not a long hike, it’s an exceptionally beautiful one. This is a fairly moderate, short trail, with parking and a roadside picnic spot. Directions: Traveling north US Hwy 441 in downtown Clayton, one block after US 76 comes in from the left, go east on Warwoman Dell Road for 2.8 miles. When the road makes a sharp curve to the left, watch for Warwoman Dell Recreation Area entrance on the right. Follow the gravel road to the first parking lot.
Becky Branch Falls The 20 foot Becky Branch Falls is easily observed from a wooden bridge which crosses the stream. Becky Branch Falls is accessed via the Bartram Trail. Directions: From Clayton, Georgia go east on Warwoman Road (County Rd. 5) for just less than 3 mile to Poll Creek Road. Park on left side of road by a small branch. Follow the trail on the right side of the branch for about 200 yards to a bridge at the base of the falls. Estatoah Falls Estatoah Falls is a large, open waterfall that may be viewed from the highway. Directions: It is about 1/2 mile beyond Dillard. Turn right on Highlands/Sky Valley Road (GA 246). Start looking for the falls on the right after 1 mile. There is a pull-out vantage point near the falls about 1 mile up the mountain. Minnehaha Falls The Minnehaha Trail, .4-mile in length, follows Fall Branch until it dead ends at Minnehaha Falls. This waterfall is approximately 100 feet high (falling and shoaling). Clayton/Rabun County Area: Take U.S. 23/441 north from Tallulah Falls for three miles to the Rabun Beach Recreation Area sign. Turn left onto Old 441. Go 2.5 miles and take a left on Lake Rabun Road. Go 1 mile past Recreation area. Take a left on Low Gap Road. Follow Bear Gap road which forks to the left. Go 1.5 miles to the sign marking the trail on the right side of the road. Martin Creek Falls This two-tier waterfall is 35 feet high with aquatic plants covering the weeping rock wall on the left. This 20-minute walk (.5 mile) follows the Bartram Trail along the west side of the creek. Clayton/Rabun County Area: From Clayton, go east on Warwoman Road for 3 miles. Turn left onto Forest Service Road 152, and drive past the Game Checking Station. The park drive is .5-mile. Park in a small cleared camping area on the left bend in the road. Walk west from the camping area. Cross Martin Creek, then travel uphill for about .4 mile to the top of the falls.
The North Georgia mountains are known for their natural scenic beauty, but few communities remain as pristine as Sautee Nacoochee. Within an unspoiled, history-rich land nestle two villages - home of art galleries, shops, restaurants, museums, historical sites, a winery, and an outfitter. At the intersection of Highway 75 and 17 is the Nacoochee Mound and Gazebo - a picturesque pastureland with grazing cattle - a notable starting-point for the journey through this beautiful community. The mound is a burial site, dating back to the Cherokee tribe that inhabited the area. Many years later, the Cherokee tribe used the mound as a site for their townhouse and ceremonial rites. The mound was placed on the National Register of Historical Places in the summer of 1980. A legend regarding the Nacoochee Mound tells the story of two Native Americans: Sautee, a brave of the Chicksaw tribe, and Nacoochee, the daughter of a Cherokee chief. Although from opposing tribes, Sautee and Nacoochee fall immediately and hopelessly in love. They meet at night and run away to nearby Yonah Mountain to spend a few idyllic days together. Later, they present Nacoochee’s father, Chief Wahoo, with the idea of creating peace between the two nations. In response, the chief orders Sautee be thrown from the high cliffs of Yonah Mountain. Nacoochee watching in horror, breaks away from her tribe and leaps from the cliff to join her lover. Sautee and Nacoochee drag their broken bodies together, and, locking in a final embrace, they die there. The Cherokee chief, realizing the greatness of their love, is overcome with grief and remorse, so much so that he has the lovers buried together, in the mound near the banks of the Chattahoochee River. Continuing north on Highway 75 on the banks of the Chattahoochee River is The Old Nora Grist Mill. The operational grist mill was established in 1876 with French Burr mill stones and a 100-foot wooden raceway that feeds water to a turbine. It was constructed by John Martin when he moved to Georgia to mine for gold and made the Sautee Nacoochee Valley his permanent home. In 1902, Dr. Lamartine G. Hardman, governor of Georgia from 1927-1931, bought the mill and named it “Nora Mill” in memory of his sister, Nora, and it remained in the Hardman Family until 1998. The mill still produces corn- and wheat-based products such as grits, corn meal, pancake mixes, flours, and biscuit/bread mixes. The Hardman Farm, a beautiful 2-story Italian-style home built in 1870, is owned by the State of Georgia and is located across the Nacoochee Mound. The Crescent Hill Baptist Church was built in 1871 by Captain James Nichols who served in the Confederate Regiment. Its beautiful Gothic style has an impressive home next door referred to as the West End, residing to the west of the church. The Old Sautee Store was built in 1872, and was a true general store with local residents purchasing food, seed and farm supplies. It served as the [...]