Chattahoochee National Forests
that make up Georgia's beautiful National Forests were once the lands
nobody wanted. The early history of Georgia is a tale of abuse and overuse
of the fragile ecosystems. Hydraulic mining for gold, cut and leave
practices of early timber companies, wildfires, over-grazing and unregulated
hunting and fishing led to a forest that was in need of extensive restoration
The Forest Service purchased 31,000 acres in four North
Georgia counties in 1911 for $7 per acre. In the beginning, the Chattahoochee
was part of the Nantahala and Cherokee National Forests in North Carolina
and Tennessee. Many of the early purchases were old homesteads and abandoned
On July 9, 1936, the Chattahoochee National Forest was
proclaimed as a separate National Forest. At that time, Forest Service
managers began to restore these lands by planting trees, fighting wildfires,
controlling erosion and introducing wildlife and fish back into their
natural habitat. As a result of a concentrated effort by the Forest
Service and the Department of Natural Resources personnel, the deer
and trout populations which had been virtually eliminated, were brought
back to today's healthy and productive level. Today's estimate of the
deer population is more than 30,000 animals and a turkey population
of over 6,000 birds.
Likewise in 1970, the bear population on the Chattahoochee
totaled 106 bears. After 20 years of continually managing the habitat
for this animal, the Chattahoochee today boasts a healthy bear population
of more than 650 animals.
Today, the Chattahoochee National Forest covers 749,549.71
acres in North Georgia and is managed out of six ranger district offices.
Chattahoochee Ranger Districts
Armuchee-Cohutta Ranger District
3941 Highway 76 • Chatsworth, GA 30705
Brasstown Ranger District
1881 Highway 515, P.O. Box 9 • Blairsville, GA 30514
Chattooga Ranger District
200 Highway 197N, • P.O. Box 1960, Clarkesville, GA 30523
Tallulah Ranger District
809 Highway 441S • Clayton, GA 30525
Toccoa Ranger District
6050 Appalachian Highway • Blue Ridge, GA 30513
Georgia's national forests are said to be
a hiker's paradise. Winding trails lead visitors through scenic mountains
and rolling hills, by wild rushing rivers and cascading waterfalls. They
also lead visitors through the history books: Spanish conquistador Hernando
de Soto's futile search for gold, the United States' first frenzied gold
rush. The Cherokee Indians' struggle to hold on to heir lands, and major
battles of the Civil War.
Ten wildernesses, 1,367 miles of trout streams,
and 430 miles of trails enrich the Chattahoochee National Forest. The famous
2,135-mile Appalachian Trail begins here and hardy hikers don't see the
end until they reach Maine!
Drive along the Ridge and Valley Scenic Byway,
which tours the Armuchee Ridges of the Appalachian Mountains. Several major
Civil War battles were fought in this area, most of them centered around
the railroad, which stretched from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Atlanta, Georgia.
Across from the Armuchee Ridges lie the Blue
Ridge Mountains. Lake Conasauga sits here, the States highest lake at more
than 3,000 feet above sea level. This clear cool mountain lake is surrounded
by white pines and eastern hemlocks. Don't forget to stop at Brasstown
Bald, Georgia's highest peak at 4,784 feet. Trails traverse the mountain
and the observation deck offers breathtaking panoramic views of mountains
Unlike the tall peaks of the Chattahoochee,
the Oconee National Forest is relatively flat with small hills. Visit Lake
Sinclair, 15,300 acres, popular for swimming, fishing, boating, and camping.
Near Lake Oconee, an easy 1-mile trail leads to one of Georgia's ghost
towns, Scull Shoals.
If a wealth of trails is the hallmark of
the Chattahoochee, bountiful game is the signature of the Oconee. There
are also plenty of excellent fishing opportunities.
The unique features of Georgia's national
forests make these land a place of exploration and wonder. They are unique
lands rich with recreation opportunities, history and spectacular scenery.
Chattahoochee National Forest
Hiking and Riding: With
over 430 miles of trails on the Chattahoochee, it's hard to find an area
without some type of footpath! From short day hikes to more arduous trips,
for novices or experts, there is a trail for every level, every purpose,
The four long-distance trails on the Chattahoochee are great for backpacking:
the Benton MacKaye (53 miles), Bartram (37 miles), Duncan Ridge (35.5 miles),
and Appalachian (79 miles).
Water Recreation: The
Chattooga Wild and Scenic River is most popular for guided rafting trips.
This premier whitewater river offers some of the most challenging rapids
in the Southeast. The Chattahoochee and Toccoa rivers are popular for canoe
or kayak. Unlike most Georgia rivers, the Toccoa flows north instead of
south, and is considered to be the state's loveliest river.
Fishing: Nearby Lake Blue Ridge is the only place in Georgia where anglers
can catch muskellunge. This 3,290-acre lake is bordered by two Forest Service
campgrounds and has a privately owned marina for boat rentals. Nottely Lake,
Lake Chatuge, Lake Burton, and Lake Rabun also tough the Chattahoochee and
provide good trout and bass fishing. With over 1,300 miles of trout streams
on the forest, there are plenty opportunities to catch trout, walleye, bluegill,
Scenic Drives: The
Ridge and Valley Scenic Byway is a 47-mile loop through the Armuchee Ridges. "Armuchee" is
a Cherokee Indian work meaning :land of flowers," still an accurate
description. John's Mountain Overlook has outstanding views reaching into
Alabama and Tennessee. A nature trail from the overlook leads to Keown
Falls Scenic Area, where twin waterfalls can be seen from an observation
Spectacular fall colors bust in the trees
along the Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway. This 38-miles look has many interesting
stops along the way. Dukes Creek Falls trail leads to the bottom of a gorge,
where the air is cooled by the misty spray from the waterfalls. Several
pools formed from the cold water tumbling down 250 feet provide a welcome
relief for wary hikers.
Farther along the drive
is the Raven Cliffs Trail, which twists for 2 1⁄2 miles around
several waterfalls, including one of the most unusual falls in the forest
where water pours out of a crevice in a massive cliff about 90 feet high.
Brasstown Bald is another popular stop on this drive.
Points of Interest: Brasstown
Bald is the highest peak in Georgia. Shuttle vans carry most visitors from
a parking lot to the top, but hardy hikers climb the path to the crest.
Winds are always present on the lofty summit, which provides breathtaking
views from the Visitor Center's observation deck.
The cool, still hush of the surrounding lush
forest is broken only by the thundering water of Anna Ruby Falls. This
unique double waterfall cascades off of Tray Mountain in a spectacular
153-foot drop. The Lion's Eye Trail for the Blind adds a special dimension
to one of Georgia's most visited spots.
for more information:
North Georgia Mountains
Chattahoochee National Forest
1755 Cleveland Highway
Gainesville, GA 30501
National Forest Service...Leave no Trace Policy
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