North Georgia Mountain National Forest Service
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Chattahoochee National Forests

The lands 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 efforts.

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 farm lands.

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 and valleys.

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, and bass.

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 platform.

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
770 297-3000


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