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The Enchanted Valleys: Hiawassee/Young Harris

The Appalachian Mountains come alive with the changing of the seasons from winter to spring and bloom with new growth appear. After so many months indoors, people flock outdoors to enjoy nature and the beauty of the mountains. Whether you’ve come for a weekend or want to stay longer, everyone is greeted with small-town friendliness in the Enchanted Valley. With the natural beauty surrounding the towns of Hiawassee and Young Harris, locals are always ready to share their knowledge of the best hiking, fishing, and magnificent views from the highest mountain tops. For many years, Hiawassee is known to be the home of the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds that host numerous events throughout the year with Live Concerts, Shows at Anderson Music Hall, Pioneer Village & Local Craft Events. The nearby Hamilton Rhododendron Gardens are also open year-round with more than 3,000 plants in bloom. Today, during the summer the city of Hiawassee holds events on the Square including First Friday Markets with live music, food, & games held the first weekend of the month May - October.  Saturdays also offer Music on the Square for visitors to bring a lawn chair and listen to a variety of country, bluegrass, and easy listening for your enjoyment Memorial Day - Labor Day Weekend. Also known by many is that Towns County has many outdoor recreational areas since the Chattahoochee National Forest covers over 50,000 acres in Towns County and another 7,000 is owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which built Lake Chatuge in 1941. Lake Chatuge’s many activities range from fishing, boating, swimming, sailing, tubing, water skiing, wakeboarding, jet skiing, and canoeing. Towns County has many public parks, picnic areas, and beaches for outdoor enjoyment including  Bell Mountain Park which offers 360-degree views of Hiawassee & Lake Chatuge with an observation platform.  Although Georgia’s highest mountain is Brasstown Bald at 4,784 ft., it has views of 4 states on a clear day.  The Brasstown Bald Visitors center, with the museum, is Located on Hwy. 180 and has a paved trail to the top or a shuttle available. For hikers, the famous Appalachian Trail crosses Unicoi Mountain at Hwy. 17 /76 west of town. This trail draws hikers nationwide to see nature at its finest. Many accommodations can guide visitors to spend time at one of the many golf courses, horseback riding stables, white water rafting adventures, and surrounding hiking, biking trails & waterfalls in our surrounding National Forest Land. You can plan your rafting trips as early as now. Star Gazers will appreciate Rollins Planetarium which is located in the Maxwell Center building at Young Harris College and during the season public shows are offered in this 100-seat planetarium under a 40-foot-diameter dome.  The college also has an observatory, located on Georgia state property near the Brasstown Valley Resort, only a short distance from campus. The entire region surrounding Lake Chatuge is famous for year-round trout fishing in numerous streams and rivers.  Another great way to have fun exploring Lake [...]

The Enchanted Valleys: Hiawassee/Young Harris2023-02-28T21:11:30-05:00

Road Trip along the Appalachian Trail, Georgia

Hikers come from near and far to celebrate the Appalachian Trail Community and to kick off the annual hike of the famous 2,175 mile trail. Every March the trail officially begins at Springer Mountain but most people start their journey at Amicalola Falls State Park. The park is an 829 acre Georgia state park located between Ellijay and Dahlonega in Dawsonville, Georgia. It offers many hiking trails, a guest lodge, restaurant, cabins, a shelter for long distance Appalachian Trail hikers, a campground and access to the ecofriendly Len Foote Hike Inn. From the State Park, an 8.5 mile trail leads to Springer Mountain, which is the southern end of the Appalachian Trail, although there are shuttles that can take people through the forest service roads to the upper part of Springer Mountian. Visitors can also access The Appalachian Trail along many Highway Routes in North Georgia including:  Hwy. 60 ”“ Woody Gap,  Hwy. 19 ”“ at Neels Gap on Blood Mountain for visitors to stop at the Walasi Yi Center. The trail also crosses Hwy. 348 at the Richard Russell Scenic Hwy., it then goes to Hwy. 75 between Helen & Hiawassee at Unicoi Gap.  On Hwy. 76 between Clayton & Hiawassee at Dicks Creek Gap visitors can also stop before the trail runs farther into North Carolina. Nearby Attractions in the area: Amicalola Falls Visitors Center Open Sun. - Wed. 9am - 5pm, Thurs. - Sat. 9am - 7pm Georgia,  Georgia's  tallest cascading waterfall at 729 ft. Amicalola Falls Lodge - This scenic facility also has a Conference Center with a restaurant. Long Creek Falls is located further along the Appalachian Trail in the Three Forks Valley area for backpacking, fishing, and camping. Dahlonega, GA - Quaint historic town with shopping, and dining.  Festivals include Bear on the Square, July 4th Celebrations, Gold Rush Days, and the Hemlock Festival. Dahlonega Gold Museum ”“ 1836 Historical Courthouse showcasing area history. Pan for Gold at Crisson Gold Mine ”“ to find your riches. Precious gems and a 25 year old Stamp Mill. Wineries ”“ Come for wine tastings featuring great food and entertainment at over 5 local wineries just outside of Dahlonega.

Road Trip along the Appalachian Trail, Georgia2023-02-22T15:46:51-05:00

Vogel State Park

Nestled in the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest, Vogel State Park is one of Georgia's favorite destinations. Established in 1931, Vogel, is the second oldest state park in Georgia and rises 2,500 feet above sea level. The entire area around Vogel was once linked to the Native Americans and the State Park sits at the base of Blood Mountain, the highest summit on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. Driving from the south, visitors pass through Neel Gap, a beautiful mountain pass near Brasstown Bald, which is the highest point in Georgia. The history of the “Vogel” name starts in the 20th century when Augustus Vogel and Fred Vogel Jr. began a lumber mill in Union County. The mill employed many of the men in the county to cut and process lumber from the 65,000 acres of land owned by the Pfister Vogel Leather Company. They were the second generation of Vogels to run a leather company in Milwaukee with Charles Frederick Pfister, and the lumber in the North Georgia mountains was an excellent source for tannin (or tannic acid), an important raw material in the tanning process. Oak trees are a major source tannic acid, although most trees have at least some tannin in them. Since this required harvesting a large number of oak, the Vogels also set up a lumber mill on the site of present-day Vogel State Park. Unfortunately, the state of Georgia entered an economic downturn in the mid-1920's and the lumber mill was no longer economically feasible. In 1929 the Vogels donated nearly 259 acres to the state, much of it still encompassed within the 233-acres within Vogel State Park. This park shares a timeless connection with its Civilian Conservation Corps builders that dammed Wolf Creek to form Lake Trahlyta and built housing around the lake for the CCC boys. The 22-acre Lake Trahlyta is named for the Cherokee maiden whose grave sits at the center of Stonepile Gap. Georgia's poet laureate, Bryon Herbert Reece, was born in a cabin on the land where Lake Trahlyta now sits. The rest of the land donated by the Vogels is under the Chattahoochee National Forest and includes the stone building now known as Mountain Crossings at Walasi-yi and Nottla or Nottely Falls, east of the Byron Herbert Reese Trail parking lot. Originally, Walasi-yi was a restaurant run by the state. Directly by Vogel is the Byron Herbert Reece Farm and Heritage Center that celebrates the life of this famous poet who received numerous awards for his writing. The center has wonderful displays, restoration of the Reece writing studio, authentic farm buildings and equipment, plus self-guided tours. Vogel State Park offers a variety of hiking, swimming, fishing and enjoying family time in a diverse mountain landscape. An easy 1.0 mile hiking trail circles the lake, allowing access to fishing docks and the boathouse. A 0.1 miles side trail takes hikers down to Trahlyta Falls, also know as Spillway Falls. A spur trail off the Trahlyta Lake Loop will [...]

Vogel State Park2023-02-22T15:50:04-05:00

State Parks

Come See Our Neck of the Woods North Georgia State Parks include a variety of recreational activities besides camping and welcome travelers to explore “Our Neck of the Woods”. Enjoy your passion to see a waterfall, go horseback riding, canoeing, fishing, hiking, biking, or just have a picnic. The great State Parks of North Georgia are waiting for you to watch nature at it's best! Black Rock Mountain State Park Park (706) 746-2141 Reservations (800) 864-7275 Black Rock Mountain State Park, named for its sheer cliffs of dark-colored biotite gneiss, has the highest altitude of 3,640 feet. Numerous scenic overlooks provide spectacular 80-mile vistas of the Southern Appalachians, and several hiking trails lead visitors past wildflowers, cascading streams, small waterfalls and lush forests. RVs exceeding 25 ft. are not recommended, as the park has a two-mile climb with a 10% grade and tight turns. Moccasin Creek State Park Park (706) 947-3194 Reservations (800) 864-7275 Known as the park “where spring spends the summer,” Moccasin Creek is located on the shores of lovely 2,800-acre Lake Burton. Accessibility offers easy navigation for large RVs, children's bicycles and wheelchairs. This also includes a fishing pier that sits above a trout-filled creek open only to physically challenged visitors, senior citizens and children. Tallulah Gorge State Park Park (706) 754-7970 Camping (706) 754-7979 / Picnic (706) 782-4014 One of the most spectacular canyons in the eastern U.S., Tallulah Gorge is two miles long and nearly 1,000 feet deep. A suspension bridge sways 80 ft above the rocky bottom, providing spectacular views of the river and waterfalls. Visitors can hike rim trails to several overlooks, or they can obtain a permit to hike down to the gorge floor. The Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center highlights the rich history of this Victorian resort town and is open daily. Fort Mountain State Park Park (706) 422-1932 Reservations (800) 864-7275 Fort Mountain derives its name from an ancient 855-foot-long rock wall, which stands on the highest point of the mountain. The mysterious wall is thought to have been built by Indians as fortification against other more hostile Indians or for ancient ceremonies. The State Park encompasses over 3,712 acres with a 17-acre lake and swimming beach. Many site are available for tent, trailer, RV, or primitive horse-camping. Trails lead to spectacular views in this pristine high country North Georgia area. Smithgall Woods State Park Park (706) 878-3087 Reservations (800) 864-7275 Dukes Creek, one of North Georgia's premier trout stream, runs through this spectacular mountain property and has become known for it's catch-and-release fishing. Eighteen miles of roads and five miles of trails allow hikers and bicyclists to explore hardwoods, streams and wildlife. Dukes Creek Falls has a direct trail for cottage guests to view. Vogel State Park Park (706) 745-2628 Reservations (800) 864-7275 Vogel State Park is located at the base of Blood Mountain in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Cottages, campsites and primitive backpacking sites provide a range of overnight accommodations. The park's twenty-acre lake is open to non-motorized [...]

State Parks2023-02-22T15:49:22-05:00

Waterfalls of Northeast Georgia

Amicalola Falls The highest waterfall in Georgia, falling 729 feet in seven cascades. At the base of the falls, there is a parking area, a reflection pool, and 3/10-mile paved trail leading to an observation deck at the top of the falls. Directions: from Dahlonega, Amicalola State Park's entrance is on GA Highway 52, east of Ellijay or west of Dahlonega. Anna Ruby Falls Curtis Creek falls 153 feet and York Creek drops 50 feet down the slopes of Tray Mountain in twin waterfalls. The very steep 4/10 mile Anna Ruby Falls Trail is paved and has benches along the trail for sitting or resting while enjoying the beauty of the area. Directions: from Helen, take GA 75 North one mile. Right on GA 356 for 1.5 miles, left on the entrance road to the falls. DeSoto Falls Three falls along a 3 mile section of the DeSoto Falls Trail are maintained for the Hiker's viewing convenience, and are designated as the  lower (cascading 20 feet), the middle (falls  about 80 feet) and the upper (about 200 feet) DeSoto Falls. Directions: From Dahlonega travel north on US 19 for 13.5 miles to Turners Corner. At this intersection, turn left and proceed on US 129 for 4.2 miles. Shortly after the Walasi-yi Center is a left turn for the park. 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. Minnehaha Falls Reported to be one of the most picturesque waterfalls in the region, Minnehaha Falls is 100 feet high. Directions: Travel along 441 toward Clayton Georgia, after crossing the Tallulah Falls Bridge travel 1.7 miles and turn left onto Old Hwy 441. Continue along Old 441 for 2.5 miles to Lake Rabun Road. Turn left onto Lake Rabun Road and travel 5 miles to the Rabun Beach Campground. From the Area 2 campground entrance travel west on Lake Rabun Road for 1.6 miles to Low Gap Road. Turn left onto Low Gap Road and travel 0.2 miles to Bear Gap Road. Turn left onto Bear Gap Road and continue for 1.6 miles to Minnehaha Trail. Raven Cliff Falls The first fall drops 60 feet, then rushes through a split in the face of a solid rock outcropping and drops 20 feet into a deep pool, and then falls another 20 feet to Dodd Creek.  3 other waterfalls can be found on Dodd Creek. Directions: from Helen, take GA 75 north for 1.5 miles. Turn left onto GA 356(75 Alternate) and travel 2.3 miles to the Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway. Turn right and travel 2.8 [...]

Waterfalls of Northeast Georgia2023-02-22T15:48:31-05:00

The Chattahoochee River

Many people know the Chattahoochee River as one of the most important U.S. Army Corps of Engineers impoundments in the nation.  This river's basin is the smallest in the nation and serves as a source of drinking water for metro Atlanta, and continues along the Georgia ”“ Alabama border, and into Florida.   This important source not only provides drinking water supply to more than half of all Georgian residents, but also provides hydroelectric power, commercial navigation, flood control, and recreation in three states to over 25 million Americans. It begins as a spring; “Chattahoochee Gap,” just a little more than a trickle of water where Jack's Knob Trail dead-ends into the Appalachian Trail at about 3,600 ft. and lies 200 ft. south.  Several streams flow from Habersham, Lumpkin, Rabun, Towns, Union and White counties to broaden its shoulders. Origin of the name “Chattahoochee” is believed to be derived from ”˜Chatto,' a stone, and ”˜hoche,' marked or flowered; there being rocks of that description in the river above Hoithletigua  - an old town that historians place near the present town of Franklin, Ga. in Heard County.  The river, “Chota,” was named by the Cherokee Indians at the headwaters and when the river flowed into Creek territory, it became the “Chattahoochee.” and was used by the tribes as a border between their Nations, then between themselves and early settlers. Excavations suggest that Spanish searched for gold in the valley as early as the sixteenth century. The first American gold rush began in 1828 through streambeds of the Chattahoochee headwaters, and the first dam was built to power a grist and lumber mill in 1876. The present Nora Mill still operates a water-powered mill and grinds cornmeal, grits, wheat, rye, and flours. The Chattahoochee River and Wildlife Management Area are located within the 750,000-acre Chattahoochee National Forest with lush forests.  More than 500 species of birds, mammals, fish, and reptiles live in this protected headwaters portion, as it provides wildlife access to drinking water, sites for nests and dens, and berry-producing shrubs along its banks as a source of food. Helen is a perfect start, as this river runs through this Alpine Village town of themed German- festivals and businesses.  Then the Chattahoochee picks up flow from creeks such as Smith, Low Gap, Henson, Dukes, and Sautee.  Two beautiful waterfalls that merge into these creeks are the twin falls of Anna Ruby and Horse Trough Falls, just north of Helen. From Helen, the river flows east through Sautee Nacoochee Valley, which pass agricultural-residential areas throughout White and Habersham Counties.  The river then flows into Buck Shoals State Park, a wildlife preserve not yet opened to the public and Mossy Creek State Park just north of Clermont.  The river flows through the newly planned State Park (Don Carter) on the northern tip of Lake Lanier. Summer is the perfect time to enjoy recreation such as fishing, tubing, canoeing, boating, hiking and camping on the Chattahoochee River banks, shores, and it's watershed to make [...]

The Chattahoochee River2023-02-22T15:52:59-05:00

Warwoman Dell

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.

Warwoman Dell2023-02-22T15:48:08-05:00

Top of Bell Mountain

Have you ever wanted to feel on Top of the World? Just head to Hiawassee and Bell Mountain Park Historical Site. Originally Bell Mountain was very prominent rising 3,424 foot of elevation from the “Enchanted Valley” of Hiawassee. Then in the early 1960's Bell Mountain's land was purchased to mine for its minerals, and the top was left with a wide gap at the knob. After the mining, Mr. Hal Herrin partner of the Hiawassee Land Company, then later Mountain Realty purchased it in an effort to preserve it from future mining. Bell Mountain primarily became a home for sunset hikes and later on, a place for Jeeps, Hang gliders and other off-road enthusiasts. The mountain also became vandalized at the top with spray paint graffiti from kids and people who took advantage of the remote location that was not monitored. The Hal Herrin Estate graciously donated the 18 acre Bell Mountain Summit to Towns County. in 2016. Today, it has paved the road, established parking area, and in addition to the Hal Herrin Scenic Overlook erected a 2nd platform that offers 360 degree views of the surrounding lake and mountains. From Highway 76 ”“ Turn on Shake Rag Rd. and go slow (Speed limit is five MPH.) Hours are 8 AM - 8 PM, and is Closed during inclement weather.

Top of Bell Mountain2023-02-22T15:44:58-05:00
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