Spring will soon be here and beautiful trees, shrubs, and flowers will soon be in bloom. Quietly tucked away in the North Georgia Mountains, sits a rare and special treasure. A botanical paradise of walking trails that burst with dogwood, tulip magnolias, native azaleas, wild flowers, trillium, and rhododendron. Located on the banks of Lake Chatuge is Hamilton Gardens, a truly enchanted spot, boasting the largest collection of rhododendrons in the state of Georgia. Hamilton Gardens welcomes visitors to stroll tranquil pine bark trails as they wind through lush foliage of over 400 varieties of rhododendron. Beautiful overlooks, park benches, sculptures, and the stunning views of Lake Chatuge and the majestic mountains surround this 20 acre woodland garden. How did this extensive collection form to develop this garden? Hamilton Gardens initially began in the 1980s with rhododendrons and azaleas that were gifted to Towns County by Fred and Hazel Hamilton. The Hamilton's were collectors of both native azaleas and rhododendrons as well as propagators of the same. Many of the plants located in the gardens are hybrids from their work. They traveled extensively and added to their collection whenever possible. “A Blooming Affair” is held annually from mid-April to mid-May and offers a spectacular visitor experience. Wildflowers, native azaleas, rhododendrons and many other plants come into full color. Our Garden Ambassadors will greet you at the front entrance on Saturdays and Sundays to tell you more about the Gardens and answer any questions you may have. You can also purchase your own rhododendrons and azaleas on Saturdays and Sundays while supplies last. Please visit our website for more information. Outdoor enthusiasts are welcome to study the huge diversity of native wildflowers, plants and trees. There is also a ‘Let’s get growing’ lecture series held twice monthly June – September. There are a variety of topics and are presented by guest speakers who are experts in their field. The lectures are usually held on the first and third Friday of the month at 11am. Moonlight Concerts are also popular at Hamilton Gardens. Bring your chair and favorite snack, relax on the West lawn and enjoy the music by popular artists like Dr. Paul and Teddy Baker. Events may be cancelled due to inclement weather, please follow us on facebook or call for last minute updates. All are welcome to experience the great outdoors at Hamilton Gardens at Lake Chatuge, because beauty surrounds us and everyone loves to walk in a garden to enjoy nature at it's best. Hamilton Gardens at Lake Chatuge is a 501(c)3 Georgia Corporation and donations are appreciated. Open Year Round, 8 AM – Dusk. CDC social distancing rules are in place. Pets are not allowed. Located at 96 Pavilion Rd. in Hiawassee, GA 30546 at the top of Georgia Mtn Fairgrounds, Honor system entry fee, for more information call 706-970-0011, visit hamiltongardens.org or follow us on facebook.
As everyone travels for the Spring and Summer, shouldn’t you feel welcomed and experience the comforts of home in a beautiful and friendly area? Habersham County encompasses many “Feel Right at Home” communities within it’s broad 270 plus miles of pastureland, mountains, river and streams that include the Chattahoochee National Forest. Explore the towns of Clarkesville, Cornelia, and Demorest for a variety of lodging including hotels, cabins, and B&B’s. Lake Russell and Tallulah Falls State Recreational areas invite camping and RV sites. Walking friendly brick lined streets in these towns invite you to see shops, restaurants, galleries, and antique stores to experience that small town atmosphere. Habersham County takes pride in it’s community by preserving history and natural resources of outdoor recreational parks. Long ago, the Cherokee and Creek Indian tribes made these foothills their homeland as settlers came to the area. Habersham County was officially chartered in 1818 and named for Joseph Habersham, a Revolutionary War hero and the first Postmaster General under President John Quincy Adams. Clarkesville was named after General John C. Clarke, governor of Georgia in 1819 – 1821. It was chartered in 1823 as the county seat of Habersham County and was the first of the major resort towns with wealthy families escaping the heat of the coasts of South Carolina & Georgia. Visitors are welcome in the middle of May in the downtown square to enjoy the Mountain Laurel Festival that include activities for the whole family. Northeast Georgia’s Oldest Arts & Crafts event has a parade, duck race, live music, and food. Historical sites in downtown Clarkesville usually start with the Mauldin House, at the corner of E. Waters & Jefferson St. It services as the Clarkesville’s Welcome Center and is the beginning of the towns walking tour of the Greek, Gothic, Victorian, and Plantation style homes in this beautiful historical district. Neighboring Sam Pitts Park located by the beautiful Soque River offers a place for walking trails and picnics. Travel down the road on Scenic Hwy. 197 that follows the river for trout fishing and the small community that feature many regional handmade arts and crafts. Just South of Clarkesville is Demorest, home of Piedmont College which founding roots date back to 1897. The 266 acre campus welcomes the public to visit The Mason- Scharfenstein Museum and Johnny Mize Museum that commemorates the legendary baseball player. The Swanson Center for performing Arts holds periodical shows and events for entertainment. The town of Cornelia was first settled around 1860 for transportation and the railroad along the East Coast. Visitors can now step back in time to downtown Cornelia and see the beautifully restored Train Depot. The museum includes early railroad memorabilia, model of the Talullah Falls train, and two restored cabooses by the depot. The nearby City Park also offers a Splash Pad and Club Canine for family fun. The “Big Red Apple,” stands near the train depot as a monument that is seven feet tall, 22 ft. in circumference and weighs 5200 [...]
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 [...]
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.
Beautiful trails are yours to explore in the great outdoors of the North Georgia Mountains. Just pack a snack and plenty of water, get your gear ready and go for a hike. Ellijay - Three Forks Trail: To the left (North) on the trail is Long Creek Falls (2.3 miles round trip) . To the right is a beautiful section of old growth forest along Stover Creek. Directions: Take 52 East from Ellijay about 4.8 miles. Turn left on Big Creek Road at the Dollar General. Follow this road about 15.4 miles (the final .4 miles are dirt) to Forest Service 58 and turn Right. This road follows Noontootla Creek to Three Forks. Parking is available where the trails cross the road. Blue Ridge - Free Knob Loop Trail: 2.5 miles, easy rating Directions from Blue Ridge, Georgia: Travel east (toward Blairsville, GA) on GA Hwy 515, approx. 0.8 miles past intersection with GA Hwy 5. Turn Right at Windy Ridge Rd., go 0.2 miles to dead end with Old U.S. 76. Turn left, go 0.2 miles to Aska Road on right. Continue south on Aska Read to Shallowford Bridge. Turn left across river and immediate right on dirt-gravel road leading to Dial, GA. At 0.4 miles come to point where trail enters road from forest. Continue east on road to parking area at 1.2 miles. Suches - Jarrard Gap Trail Trail: 1.0 mile, easy/moderate rating Directions: Take US 19 and 129 south from Blairsville Georgia for 9.5 miles. Turn right (west) onto GA 180 and go 7 miles to the main entrance to Lake Winfield Scott Campground. Turn left into the campground. Follow this road over a hill and continue straight ahead into a gravel parking lot at the foot of the hill. From the parking lot, hike along the paved road passing the guard rail at the head of the lake. The trailhead is on the right of the road just past the guard rails. Blairsville - Sosebee Cover Trail Trail: Traveling through a second-growth cove hardwood forest, the 0.25 mile Sosebee Cove Trail is rated easy and receives moderate use. This area is a memorial to Arthur Woody, who served as the first Forest Service Ranger in Georgia. Directions: from Blairsville Georgia, travel 9.5 miles south along US 19/129 and turn right (west) onto GA 180. Continue along GA 180 for 2 miles to the Sosebee Cove parking lot on the right. Hiawassee - High Shoals Creek Trail: The two waterfalls on High Shoals Creek are the highlight of this 170 acre site. A 1.2 mile trail takes visitors from FS 283 down to the falls. Directions: Take 75 South from Hiawassee turn right onto Indian Grave Gap Road, graveled Forest Service Road 283 which leads visitors through the Swallow Creek Wildlife Management Area to the High Shoals Creek Falls Scenic Area. Dahlonega - Yahoola Creek Trail: This is about a 4 mile trail that circles Yahoola Creek Reservoir but also swerves back into the woods [...]