Waterfalls, wildflowers, and wine: Georgia’s mountains supply loads

“Thar’s gold in them thar hills” — and likewise gorgeous waterfalls, breathtaking mountain vistas, charming small cities, pristine trout streams, award-winning wineries, quaint lodges, apple orchards, and on and on. They’re all within the splendid mountains of North Georgia a few two-hour drive from Atlanta.

View from Tennessee Rock Path, Black Rock Mtn. State Park, Rabun County (All images: Charles Seabrook)

Whether or not you go to for a day, an extended weekend and even longer, you’ll discover an array of the way to flee life‘s day by day rigors. 

Stroll alongside a scenic path bounded by wildflowers within the 750,000-acre Chattahoochee Nationwide Forest. Be taught in regards to the fascinating historical past of Georgia‘s gold rush, 20 years earlier than California’s. Style very good wines at among the greater than 25 mountain wineries. Store for arts and crafts within the inviting cities. Climb to the highest of big ceremonial mounds constructed by prehistoric Native Individuals. Pattern down-home barbecue and nation cooking at roadside eateries. Lease a country cabin. Or, merely calm down by a serene mountain lake at a state park or resort. 

North Georgia’s mountains are the southern finish of the Appalachian mountain vary that extends north into southeastern Canada. In Georgia, the mountains are divided into three so-called “physiographic ecoregions” based mostly on their rocks, origins, and different geological traits. The Blue Ridge Mountains area encompasses the northeast a part of the state; the Ridge and Valley area occupies many of the state’s northwest part; the Appalachian Plateau covers the acute northwest nook of the state.

However irrespective of the place you go in Georgia’s mountains, you’ll discover a tremendous number of publicly accessible pure treasures — spectacular waterfalls, picturesque valleys, roaring whitewater creeks, and awe-inspiring views from mountain peaks. 

Speeding whitewater creek, Anna Ruby Falls

Among the many waterfalls, a must-see is 153-foot-high Anna Ruby Falls (truly twin falls) close to Unicoi State Park in White County, certainly one of North Georgia’s premier trip locations. One other is Amicalola Falls within the state park of that title in Dawson County. At 729-feet tall, Amicalola Falls is Georgia’s highest waterfall and touted as one of many state’s Seven Pure Wonders. Two different magnificent, don’t-miss waterfalls are reached from a well-liked path in Cloudland Canyon State Park in Dade County — Hemlock Falls and Cherokee Falls.

Typical early nineteenth Century Cherokee homestead, New Echota

North Georgia’s biggest pure treasure by far, although, is the majestic Chattahoochee Nationwide Forest, most of which lies within the state’s Blue Ridge Mountains (the place Atlanta’s consuming water supply, the Chattahoochee River, begins) with a smaller portion within the northwest area.

The Chattahoochee forest is claimed to be a hiker’s paradise with some 430 miles of recreation trails lush with wildflowers in spring and fall and winding alongside tumbling streams, cascading waterfalls, and forested ridges. From leisurely, short-day strolls to extra strenuous, long-distance ones, there’s a path for practically each stage of hiker, from novice to professional.

A number of of the trailheads are alongside certainly one of Georgia’s most stunning drives, the 38-mile Richard Russell-Brasstown Bald Scenic Byway, which begins close to the city of Helen in White County. Certainly one of my favourite climbing trails throughout all seasons, the Raven Cliff Falls Path, is well accessed from the freeway. The well-maintained path winds 2.5 miles (5 miles spherical journey) round a number of waterfalls, together with one of many forest’s most uncommon falls the place water gushes from a crevice in a 90-foot-high large cliff.

Additionally, alongside the Russell-Brasstown Bald Byway are a number of roadside turnouts and overlooks that present sweeping, far-as-the-eye-can-see views of the mountains. The grandest view of all, although, is from atop Brasstown Bald, which, at 4,784 toes above sea stage, is Georgia’s highest peak. A shuttle bus takes guests from a parking zone to a guests’ heart and commentary deck from which, on a transparent day, one can see 4 states — Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

Within the northwest mountains is one other nice scenic drive, the 47-mile Ridge and Valley Byway, providing mountain overlooks and views of picturesque farmlands because it travels U.S. 27, state routes 136 and 156 and county roads. From the freeway, you’ll be able to attain the Keown Falls Scenic Space and the Johns Mountain Overlook, from which you will get a grand view of the serene, fertile Armuchee Valley. 

We might be remiss, nevertheless, if we didn’t point out among the different fabulous panoramas that may be had from vantage factors elsewhere within the mountains, together with Cloudland Canyon in Dade County and Rabun Bald, Black Rock Mountain State Park and Tallulah Gorge in Rabun County. 

However as if pure magnificence and out of doors recreation weren’t sufficient, Georgia’s mountains are extremely wealthy in human historical past and tradition — and customer sights. The countryside holds the histories of the native Cherokee Indian Nation, Civil Conflict battles and early settlers whose 1800’s farmsteads nonetheless stand. In 1828, the invention of gold within the Dahlonega space in Lumpkin County triggered America’s first main gold rush, which rapidly unfold by way of Georgia’s mountains. 

At this time, reminders of the frenzied quest for gold abound within the mountains. In Dahlonega, tour an previous gold mine and go to the Gold Museum State Historic Website, which presents guests a close-up have a look at the state’s gold mining historical past, together with a whole assortment of gold cash — value a small fortune — minted in Dahlonega.

The gold rush modified the course of North Georgia’s historical past. For the native Cherokee Indians, who owned many of the land usurped by 1000’s of frenetic prospectors, gold mining spelled doom. A bitter pressure arose between the gold seekers and the Cherokee folks, culminating in certainly one of Georgia’s darkest hours — the compelled removing of the Cherokee to lands out west through the notorious “Path of Tears.”

The Cherokee Nation’s former prominence in northern Georgia continues to be evident within the area. 

Entrance to the collapse Cave Spring, GA, Floyd County

Most noteworthy is the New Echota State Historic Website in Gordon County, the situation of the short-lived however extremely important Cherokee capital on the banks of the Oostanaula River — the spot the place the tragic Path of Tears started.  At this time, guests can see 12 unique and reconstructed buildings, together with the nation’s Council Home, Courtroom Home, Print Store, a tavern, a missionary home, and Cherokee farm buildings – in addition to a small museum within the guests’ heart. 

Typical early nineteenth Century Cherokee homestead, New Echota

One other notable Cherokee web site is the Chieftains Museum/Main Ridge House in Rome in Floyd County, a Nationwide Historic Landmark. Main Ridge was a signer of the Treaty of New Echota, which resulted within the Path of Tears.

However, wait, there’s nonetheless far more to see and do in Georgia’s mountains. We’re speaking in regards to the area’s fascinating cities and cities stuffed with allure, pleasant retailers, and pleasant folks. 

Helen, GA

There’s Helen, whose Bavarian-style retailers, eating places, and lodgings appear proper out of a storybook. Ellijay, surrounded by orchards and wineries, is dwelling to the Georgia Apple Competition every fall. In Blue Ridge, you’ll be able to hop aboard the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, billed as a step again in time that takes passengers to the equally charming city of McCaysville and again.

Poole’s BBQ, Ellijay, Gilmer County

Hiawassee is dwelling to the Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa and the location of a number of concert events and festivals every year. Clayton is a Mecca for out of doors lovers and near Georgia’s highest state park, Black Rock Mountain. 

Cave Spring lives as much as its title: It has an simply accessible limestone cave in the course of city and a picturesque spring that gushes water pure sufficient for consuming. Blairsville is inside a brief drive of Vogel State Park, certainly one of Georgia’s oldest, hottest state parks with one of many prettiest mountain lakes within the state. 

So, what are you ready for? Head for the hills.

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