The town of Franklin, is “Rich” in history and surrounded by the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. Located in the southwestern corner of North Carolina, it is just 30 minutes from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The famous Appalachian Trail winds through Macon County with many campsites just off the trail, such as Standing Indian here in Macon County, just west of Franklin on highway 64W. Outdoor enthusiasts visit the forest regularly to take advantage of the Nantahala River and Nantahala Lake. Franklin is situated on the Little Tennessee River and Tassee Park provides good access to the river for peaceful walking, running, and biking trails. Franklin is also known as the, “Gem Capitol of the World.” Mining for ruby and sapphire began in Macon County in 1870. Called corundum, the minerals were mined commercially for abrasives and gave work to many men. Corundum and other minerals, mica and kaolin, were hauled to the railroad by horse and wagon and shipped out of Macon County in large quantities. Today there are many gem mines in the area and museums open for visitors. Substantial amounts of mineral and other precious stones have been discovered a here such as amethyst, rubies, garnets, sapphires, and moonstones that continued to be found. Annual gem shows attract various mineralogists and gem enthusiasts to the region. In downtown Franklin there are many museums that show visitors it’s unique history including the Ruby City Museum that have one of the largest collections of gems, minerals, Native American, & pre-Columbian collections. The Macon County Historical Museum which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Scottish Tartans Museum features original and replica kilts dating back over 200 years from the late sixteenth century. Other exhibits include Scottish weaponry, a weaving display, and information detailing the Scottish migration to North Carolina. Also while visiting Franklin, be sure to visit the Cowee West’s Mill Historic District that is located off Route 28 North where you’ll discover man-made structures dating back more than 1,400 years. Visitors enjoy walking in downtown Franklin with galleries, restaurants, antiques and shopping, for seasonal festivals. Spring festivals include April Fools Trail Days and Airing of the Quilts in May. Summer brings the Taste of Scotland in June to celebrate authentic Scottish foods, music, dancers, games, crafts and the Parade of Clans & Tartans. No matter what the season, visitors are welcome to rent cabins and stay in one of it’s many accommodations for the family to enjoy a variety of activities or to see a great show at the Smoky Mountain Performing Arts. Year round events and outdoor recreational activities make this “Gem of a Town” a cut above the rest!
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 your [...]
Big Laurel and Mooney Falls Standing Indian area - one roadside, the other a fairly easy to maybe moderate hike Directions: From the turn off to Rufus Morgan Falls, continue west on Hwy 64 for 6.3 miles and turn left on west Old Murphy Rd. Look for a brown and white sign for Standing Indian Campground. This turn is about 12 miles from the intersection of 64 west and 441/23 just outside of Franklin. Drive just under 2 miles and turn right at the sign for Standing Indian Campground (FR67). Drive 6.7 miles down FR67 - bearing left at the entrance to the campground - to a pull out on the right at the trail head for Big Laurel Falls. The road turns from pavement to gravel and the last couple of miles are rather rocky. You can do it in a passenger car, just drive slower. The hike is an easy 1/2 mile along Big Laurel Branch, mostly through rhododrendron. A short distance from the trail head, turn right at the ‘T’ intersection and cross the bridge. Turn right again after crossing and follow the trail up the creeks to the waterfall. The waterfall is only 20’ or so, but it’s in a secluded setting and there’s a nice little swimming hole at the base. If you’re lucky, you’ll have the place to yourself. About 1/4 mile farther up FR67 on the right is the trail head for Mooney Falls. The trail is short, switchbacking down the bank to the base of the lower drop. At the 2nd switchback, the trail to the left leads to the upper cascades. Climb up on the big rock for this nice view. Bridal Veil Falls 2.5 miles west of Highlands on Hwy 64. Watch for the brown and white forest service sign on the right hand side of the road. You can use the road side pull off to actually drive under this waterfall! Cullasaja Falls 5.5 miles past Dry Falls heading west on Hwy 64, is Cullasaja Falls. This road side area is small with a lot of passing traffic, so be cautious and pull off the road completely. There is a very steep trail that leads to the bottom of the falls, but in heavy flow conditions, the trail can be wet and slippery. Again, please use caution. Dry Falls Continuing west on Hwy 64, just past the intersection with Hwy 106, look for the brown and white forest service sign for Dry Falls and turn left into the parking area. There is a wheelchair accessible viewing area for an easy viewing as well as stairs and a short trail down to the waterfall for a close up look and the ability to walk behind the falls. This waterfall is stunning and the photo opportunities are plentiful. Fires Creek Falls, AKA Leatherwood Falls From Hayesville, Hwy. 64 take Fires Creek Rd. to Fires Creek Wildlife Road. Follow road along Hiwassee River until you see the signs. This area has plenty of [...]
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! 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. 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. Unicoi State Park Park (706) 878-2201 Reservations (800) 864-7275 Lodge (800) 573-9659 Unicoi State Park, named from the turnpike that was the early means of transportation, is over 1,050 acres of beautiful nature trails. It includes a 53 acre lake for non-motorized boats and a swimming beach. Enjoy flora, fauna and abundant wildlife as you picnic or hike a trail. Campsites and Cottages provide campers with many accommodations, including a 100 Room Lodge and Conference Center with a restaurant.
Just outside Ellijay, traveling on State Road 52 to the Northwest, is a winding two lane road that ascends more than a thousand feet with sharp turns and pull-offs on both sides. Fort Mountain State Park’s entrance then takes you to the park office where you can get information about trails, camping, R.V. sites, and many activities, including hiking, backpacking, biking, picnicking, horse back riding, fishing, swimming, or geocoaching hidden treasures. Fort Mountain takes its name from a peak that has remnants of a stone formation around part of that peak. These mysterious piles of non-native rock, many of them large, form a long discontinuous zig-zag wall that runs more than 928 feet and varies in height from two to six feet. The original construction and function of the formation as a fort is less accepted today and its origin remains unknown. Some scholars believe that the formation could be attributed to pre-Columbian native Americans from around 500 A.D. and that it held a ceremonial or religious purpose. The ancient wall runs east to west and the alignment illuminates one side of the wall at sunrise and the other side at sunset as ancient Native American cultures often worshiped the sun. The myths of the culture who built it abound. Cherokee Indian culture speaks of a race of “moon-eyed” people who are said to have lived in Appalachia until the Cherokee expelled them. Another myth revolves around the Welsh prince Madoc, who purportedly sailed to America in 1170. The story asserts that Madoc’s colonists had intermarried with local Native Americans. These “Welsh Indians” were credited with the construction of a number of landmarks throughout the United States. For more information to Fort Mountain State Park, call 706-695-262
On the back roads of Dial & Suches If you want to see North Georgia’s unspoiled nature and most scenic route; just travel the winding road along Hwy. 60. The two quaint towns of Suches, GA in Union County and unincorporated Dial, GA in Fannin County is a place that few visitors get to see on the back roads of Georgia. Suches is also known as the “Valley above the Clouds”. Outside of Dahlonega, the road forks Left off Hwy. 19 going North over beautiful mountain vistas. From Woody Gap is where you enter this area as The Appalachian Trail crosses Hwy. 60 & where hikers started 20 miles to the south on Springer Mountain. Dockery Lake is halfway between mileposts 19 and 20 on the Lumpkin County (Dahlonega) side of Woody Gap. Well marked roads lead to overnight camping and the lake provides ideal area to fish. Preacher’s Rock is where spectacular vistas of the incredible Appalachian Mountains can be seen from, a half-hour’s walk off the pavement. Just past milepost 21, park at Woody Gap, follow the trail to the right, towards Neil’s Gap & Blood Mountain. Look for trail markers, as beginning of hike is easy, although inexperienced hikers need to proceed with caution for steep inclines at the top of Preachers Rock that is solid granite. Lake Winfield Scott is the spot for a cool getaway on a hot summer day and is a part of the Chattahoochee National Forest. The 18 acre lake is quiet for camping or hiking and has a swimming & pavilion area. In Suches turn right onto Hwy.180, go 7 miles for signs on the right. Sea Creek Falls is another side excursion off Coopers Creek Rd. This trail runs parallel to Coopers Creek and has a 10 minute walk to the waterfall. Take Cooper Creek Road for 2.9 miles. Turn left on forest highway 264. Continue until it ends in about 1/10 mile. Woody Gap School was built in 1940 from the old Brown homestead. Joseph Brown was a State Senator 1849, Governor in 1857, Chief Justice of GA’s Supreme Court in 1868 & served in the U.S. Senate until 1891. Ranger Arthur Woody served from 1911-1945 & was a key figure in promote conservation in the Chattahoochee National Forest. . Every October the Indian Summer Festival is held with crafts, antiques, folk art, food & entertainment. The Swinging Bridge is a 265 foot long suspension bridge, the longest one east of the Mississippi. It was built to allow hikers on the Benton MacKaye trail to easily cross the rushing Toccoa River. From Suches on Hwy. 60 after entering Fannin County, go another 5.8 miles. Take the dirt road to the left with the trail marker and a rough 3.1 dirt road, (4-wheel drive recommended) then at the end of road, a trail leads you to the bridge, about 1/3 of a mile. The Old Skeenah Mill, which was built in 1848 by Willis Woody, who brought his family to the [...]
Small Towns Nestled in the Nature of Habersham County Habersham County is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Northeast Georgia. From it’s early days founding in 1818 boasts a rich history Named after Colonel Joseph Habersham, a Revolutionary War hero and former Postmaster General of the United States. From its early days as a frontier settlement to its emergence as a thriving agricultural hub, Habersham County offers a welcoming hospitality as it continues to grow. Surrounded by lush forests, rolling hills, and waterways of the Soque, Tugaloo & Tallulah River Habersham County offers ample opportunities for outdoor ad-venture. Nature enthusiasts can explore the nearby Chattahoochee National Forest, home to scenic hiking trails, cascading waterfalls, and abundant wildlife. Cornelia is known as the “Gateway to the Mountains,” and owes much of its early growth and prosperity to the railroad industry. The town’s historic downtown district still retains its vintage charm, with beautifully restored buildings and has entertainment, shopping, and a variety of dining with live music on weekends. The “Big Red Apple” stands near the restored train depot and pays homage to Cornelia’s agricultural roots. The museum in the Depot is open to the public for Free to learn more about the Tallulah Railway. Visitors won’t want to miss the Annual Fall celebration in September for the Big Red Apple Festival that has arts, crafts, live music, and great food! In summer kids of all ages enjoy the Cornelia Splash Pad that is open from May – October and is great for family gatherings. The Cornelia City Park offers a serene retreat with walking trails, picnic areas, and playgrounds for families to enjoy. The Community Center located in the park was built in 1936 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Just 5 miles from the park, visitors can see magnificent views from Chenocetah Mountain overlooking Lake Russell from an elevation of 1,830 feet. The Chenocetah Fire Tower, is the last rock-constructed, working fire lookout tower in the east and stands 40 feet high. From this viewpoint, nature abounds with birds that soar above the countryside. Mt. Airy is the home to Lake Russell Recreational Area that is a great spot for swimming, camping, biking, fishing and boating. Outdoor enthusiasts will find no shortage of ways to connect with nature in this idyllic setting. Hiking trails are available year-round and a 4.6 mile loop goes around the shores of this beautiful 100-acre lake. Lake Russell has a large grass-covered beach and makes a great picnicking area for the day. One of the primary draws of Lake Russell is its exceptional fishing opportunities. Anglers flock to its waters year-round in pursuit of prized catches such as largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, and striped bass. Birdwatchers will also find plenty to admire, as the lake’s diverse ecosystem is home to a variety of avian species, including bald eagles, ospreys, and herons. For overnight stays, Lake Russell offers a range of camping options, from primitive tent sites to [...]