Guide to Rabun County and the North Georgia Mountains

Guide to Rabun County and the North Georgia Mountains

Guide to Rabun County and the North Georgia Mountains: Guests are always asking us “what is there to do while in Rabun County?”  We have compiled a non-exhaustive list of our past guests favorite things not to miss while visiting our area of the North Georgia Mountains. While numbered, they are in no particular order.

Guide to Rabun County and the North Georgia Mountains

Things to do in our Corner of the North Georgia Mountains – Rabun County

Guide to Rabun County and the North Georgia Mountains

An Innkeepers Guide to the North Georgia Mountains: Guests are always asking us “what is there to do while in Rabun County?”  We have compiled a non-exhaustive list of our past guests favorite things not to miss while visiting our area of the North Georgia Mountains. While numbered, they are in no particular order.

1. Enjoy a picnic at Minnehaha Falls.  We consider Minnehaha Falls to be the best waterfall in Rabun County. The 60-foot high falls widens as it quickly cascades to a wide pool at its base. Minnehaha Falls is buried in a wide, steep-sided cove packed with rhododendron, making this an exceptionally beautiful hike. At the base of the falls is a perfect flat stone to host a picnic.

2.  Raft the Chattooga River. Yes, this first ever Wild and Scenic River is still one of the biggest attractions in our area. On Section III you can find solitude and beauty between the shoals and rapids.  On Section IV you will discover paddling muscles you have not used recently. It is a spectacular resource that needs our protection.

3. Visit Blackrock Mountain State Park:  From Beechwood Inn it is just a short drive to Blackrock Mountain State Park, the highest state park in Georgia. The visitors’ Center has been newly remodeled and offers rest rooms, sales items and trail maps.  It is a perfect place to bring a picnic as the top of the mountain is always several degrees cooler than down below. There are miles of trails a beautiful lake and even some waterfalls to visit.

4. Hike Tallulah Gorge: One of the most spectacular canyons in the eastern U.S., Tallulah Gorge is two miles long and nearly 1,000 feet deep. Visitors can hike rim trails to several overlooks, or they can obtain a permit to hike to the gorge floor (100 per day, not available during water releases). A suspension bridge sways 80 feet above the rocky bottom, providing spectacular views of the river and waterfalls. Tightrope walkers have twice crossed the gorge, and visitors can still see towers used by Karl Wallenda. A paved path follows an on old railroad bed, perfect for strollers and bicycles, while mountain bikers can test their skills on a challenging 10-mile trail. Exhibits in the park’s Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center highlight the rich history of this Victorian resort town, as well as the rugged terrain and fragile ecosystem of the area.

5. Visit Foxfire Museum: Take a walk through the past at the Foxfire Museum & Heritage Center, a look at a unique time and place in America’s past that is very nearly gone. Get a glimpse of a rich past captured by local high school students who truly valued their heritage. Here you will find homes, tools, trades, crafts, and a look at the lifestyle of the all-but-vanished pioneer culture of the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

6.  Visit a Nearby Winery: The North Georgia Mountains are now dotted with family owned vineyards and wineries making wonderful quality table wines. While you will find the occasional sweet wine, many of the wines now made in North Georgia compete favorably with wines from California and France. In our immediate area you can find:

12 Spies Vineyard, 550 Black Branch Road, Rabun Gap, GA 30568, (706) 746-2097

Hightower Creek Vineyards, 7150 Canaan Drive, Hiawassee, GA 30546 (706) 896-8963

Stonewall Creek Vineyards Standing Deer Lane, Tiger, GA 30576 (706) 212-0584

Tiger Mountain Vineyards, 2592 Old 441 South Tiger, GA 30576 (706) 782-4777

7. Have Dinner at the Dillard House: When you visit the Dillard House Restaurant you might expect just a meal, but it’s a true Southern culinary event that awaits you. Their menus consist of generous portions of homemade Southern dishes from recipes handed down over the years from Dillard House chefs and generations of Dillard family members. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served “family-style” every day of the year. They received two (2) Reader Choice Awards awards in Southern Living Magazine.

8. Hike to the Top of Rabun Bald: At an elevation of 4696 feet, it is the tallest mountain in Rabun County and the second highest peak in Georgia.  An observation tower on the summit provides hikers with views that extend for more than 100 miles.

9.  Visit Historic Downtown Clayton: Clayton, Georgia has it all – surrounded by the lush Smoky Mountains, an old-time Main Street lined with specialty shopping, delicious dining venues, romantic vineyards, and many rustic lodging options. Local shops feature the best in art, antiques, books, flowers, furniture, gifts and wine. Fine restaurants will please even the most discriminating palate. You’ll even find an old fashioned drug store soda fountain.

10. Visit a Working Farm:

Osage Farm: Nestled in the heart of the valley in Rabun Gap, Osage Farms is a family owned vegetable and Fraser Fir tree farm.  The vegetable market is open every day May through October and features seasonal fruit and fresh vegetables and some wonderful heirloom tomatoes. Osage Silver Queen Corn is not to be missed, plus there is something special about cabbage grown in our North Georgia Mountains.

Hillside Orchard Farm: Children’s petting zoo, corn maze, and country store that uses local products to make every jam, jelly and juice you can imagine, including more than 30 kinds of hot sauce.

11. Float a Lake on a Pontoon Boat:  There is not much more relaxing than floating on one of our mountain lakes and ogling our wonderful lake houses from the perspective they are meant to be seen from.  The mountains are beautiful and the lakes are pure and clean and maintained at high water levels by Georgia Power Company. You will not see acres of red mud or half submerged old tires on any of the lakes in Rabun County.

12. Catch a Mountain Trout: Whether you fly fish the upper Chattooga River or just dip a cane pole at Andy’s Trout Farm there is not much more exciting than catching your own dinner. Our mountain streams and rivers offer perfect habitat for trout and the rivers are kept well stocked.  Mind your manners and get a license.  But, there is not license needed at Andy’s Trout Farm with sleek trout raised in the freshest water you will find in the USA.

13. Visit the Historic Shops in Lakemont. It is a New Artisan Community built on Old Foundations housed in renovated and restored buildings from the early 1900’s. It is a cluster of art galleries, studios, nursery and fine shops. Don’t miss Annie’s at Allies Groceries offering deli-sandwiches, fine wine and essential provisions for the Lake Rabun folk. Old 441 south.

14. Take a scenic drive to the Upper Tallulah River Basin. We love to explore local roads that lead to remote locations. If one had to select a national park site in Georgia, this land of gorges, waterfalls, and scenic splendor would be it. Hunters of bear and hog have used the area for years. Only now are horseback riders and hikers discovering this watershed and its myriad trails, many of them connecting with the Appalachian Trail. There was no easy way for the early settlers to reach the remote valley called Tate City, a pastoral setting rimmed by a great northward flex of the Blue Ridge. Tate City was once a busy corundum mining community and later a logging town with stores and churches. Now only two churches and a handful of homes remain. Most of the original mountain people who lived by subsistence agriculture are gone. The bears and perhaps even the cougar have returned. Learn more about the basin:

15. Go Horseback riding in our Cove Forests: Yes, let the horse do the work as you enjoy the beauty and solitude of our wondrous mountain eco-system. You can ford steams and without getting your feet wet and you can climb a mountain without getting yourself out of breath, yet feel at one with the wilderness and not captive in a car.

Dillard House Stables: (706)746-5348.

Equus Meadow Riding Stable, 514 N. Germany Mountain Road, Clayton, GA 30525 (706) 363-6330 or (706) 782-1706

Sunburst Stables: Near Lake Burton in Habersham County.

16. Take a Zip Line Forest Canopy Tour: Glide through trees, fly over canyons and lakes. With little effort, one can enjoy a bird’s eye view of the forest as you speed along the zipline course, enjoying the beauty of nature and the thrill of flying between the trees.  http://northgeorgiacanopytours.com

17. Go to Black Bear Creek Antiques. This place is eye candy for guys, and for gals that like guy things. It is filled with old advertising, antique outboard motors, old fishing gear, a 1966 Italian Harley, old Coke machines. Probably my personal favorite is the machine room as it is chocked full of all things mechanical. Victrolas, vintage oscillating fans, antique radios, “people weigher” scale, working traffic light, arcade games. You won’t find any antimacassars. Located five miles west of Clayton, on Highway 76.

18. Enjoy lunch at Fromage or Grapes and Beans. These are two of our favorite quirky cafes nearby. Grapes and Beans is quaint little restaurant, wine and coffee shop. Dine on their kudzu porch. They offer lunch, eat-in or carry-out, and use local and organic ingredients whenever possible. Fromage is the passion of “Best Chefs America” Chef Jenny Wilson, who loves coming up with new and inventive menus. Tell them Beechwood Inn sent you.

19. Golf in the North Georgia Mountains. We have some spectacular mountain golf courses – some where the ball will drop nearly 1,000 feet to the green. All our courses are beautiful, well maintained and offer some breath-taking views of lakes, mountains, ponds and streams. So grab your 3 iron and join us for a round of mountain golf.

Kingwood Resort: Registered Beechwood Inn guests can play golf at nearby Kingwood Resort (3 miles) at a special guest rate. This is a substantial savings. Let us call and set up your Tee-Time in order to get this rate. Kingwood Resort also has a wonderful restaurant for dining after your day of golf. Championship eighteen holes, open to the public. Located on East 76 just outside of Clayton. (706)212-4100 or (866) KINGWOOD

Rabun County Country Club: 9 hole golf course. South on Main Street/Old 441. Clayton, GA. (706)782-5500.

Sky Valley Resort: Championship eighteen holes. Sky Valley, GA. (706)746-5303.

20. Get a massage or spend a day being pampered at the new the Amara Center (Part of Mountain Lakes Medical Center). It is the only medi-spa of its kind in Northeast Georgia. The Amara Center is a total health and wellness center that takes an integrative approach to optimizing your health and beauty. The Amara Center provides an elegant and luxurious setting where state-of-the-art therapeutic, rejuvenation treatments for the face and body are administered. Call The Amara Center at 706.782.4009 for information on services available and pricing.  The Amara Center is open Monday through Friday 9AM – 5PM and Saturdays by appointment only.

21. Partake of a Farm to Table dining experience at Beechwood Inn. To further enhance our diner’s farm to table experience Beechwood Inn recently developed and now operates Grow, Cook, Eat, Culinary Garden, an organic vegetable, herb and edible flower farm in Rabun County. Our Chefs may have sown the seed for your dinner back in March, observed the sprouts coming out of the ground, tended them, admired them as they pulled them from the soil, and finally they put the finishing touches on the whole project by preparing it for your plate.

22. Participate in a Seasonal Festival. It does not matter whether you like to stroll displays of art, listen to great bluegrass music or smell wood-smoke as local meats are being barbecued; there is just about always something to celebrate in our corner of northeast Georgia. We do have the best artists, and the best barbecue in Georgia, and many of the best musicians too. We also have great wineries that celebrate new vintages and the awakening of the vines each spring. Our Farms offer corn mazes and farm days. Foxfire celebrates our Mountain Heritage and our white liquor legacy (that’s moonshine to you flatlanders). Our area also hosts adventure activities such as bicycle races, old automobile rallies, and warrior events. Come be entertained in our North Georgia Mountains. See what’s happening:

23. Drop in at Timpson Creek Gallery. Owned by Duane and Cecile Thompson, this gallery/shop offers some of the best in local and regional art. Duane specializes in twig furniture and décor and his work is exquisite. Duane also collects old advertising which has an honor corner in the main gallery. I still want that old bar sign. Cecile collects the best of regional art and jewelry. Out back is another gallery the Root Cellar, where they offer regional artists the opportunity to show their art and crafts. Watch for classes and special displays on their website. They are located 6 miles west of Clayton on highway 76.

24. Drive North Georgia’s Whiskey Road:  North Georgia has a colorful history of “moon-shining.” From the 1920s – 50s. Highway 197 was a primary thoroughfare for hauling illegal corn liquor to customers around Atlanta. Today the highway offers an Atelier of artist shops. Meander down Scenic Hwy 197 where you can stop to have a morning biscuit, go trout fishing, shop for hand-made regional arts and crafts, flowers, and native plants, experience rustic dining and local entertainment.

25. Set-up Camp. Whether you are touring in your Luxury Motor Home, seeking some remote wilderness campsite to set up your pup-tent, or are trailering your horses to go riding, Rabun County has it all. What better way to fall asleep than to the sound of a nearby rushing stream. Our nearby campgrounds, horse parks and RV parks offer boating, swimming, fishing, hiking and spectacular overlooks. The outdoors awaits you at one of our wonderful campgrounds.

Guide to Rabun County and the North Georgia Mountains: by Innkeepers David and Gayle Darugh

North Georgia Mountains

Guide to Rabun County and the North Georgia Mountains