During our working years, when Nancy and I took vacations in the southeast, we would either stay along the ocean or hit the mountains and head down the Appalachians as far south as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Since we always ignored north Georgia we decided to give it a try and, HOLY COW, we loved it!  The countryside here is very much like New England with mountains towering above 4,000', waterfalls, gorgeous streams, massive lakes, and cool towns.
Springtime in North Georgia

     Our first stop was Carter's Lake Corp of Engineers campground in Elijay, Georgia.  Our campsite overlooked the water and we took the opportunity to chill in this beautiful setting.  Nancy even took a plunge into the chilly lake water and floated around for an hour or 2.
Carter's Lake

Nancy taking a dip in Carter's Lake

     We used the campground as a jumping off point to visit some of the local highlights.  One evening we toured Elijay which turned out to have a cute yet tiny downtown.  The highlight of the town was the local pub, which was named the "2018 best bar in Georgia."  The bar seemed like an interesting place, but "best bar" in the state may have been a little over the top.  At any rate we enjoyed the place.
River Street Tavern.
The 2018 winner of the best bar in Georgia.

     Our favorite trip was to Cloudland Canyon State Park.  The park surrounds a deep canyon with waterfalls and a spectacular 5 mile trail along the rim of the canyon.  According the the park's literature, Backpacker Magazine once identified the rim trail as one of the top hikes in the USA.
Cloudland Canyon

Cherokee Falls.
Cloudland Canyon State Park.

Cloudland Canyon

     After departing the Elijay area, it was on to Hiawassee, Georgia.  Hiawassee turned out to be one of our favorite stops and fell onto our list of possible areas to settle in.  Hiawassee is situated on Chatuge Lake and is surrounded by beautiful mountains.  The area had the feeling of living in the Vermont Mountains, only a lot warmer.  Hiawassee itself doesn't have a downtown area and there aren't a lot of great restaurants, but within 30 to 45 minutes, there is so much to do it was overwhelming in the short 2 weeks we were there.
Unified Restaurant on Chatuge Lake
in Hiawassee, Georgia.

Enjoying a day on Chatuge Lake.

Leon and Laurie Gibbons.
My pickleball friends who showed us
a great day on Chatuge Lake.

     Although we did a lot of great stuff, I have to admit that I got hooked on Pickleball.  Hiawassee has 14 new courts and I showed up one morning to see if they would have me.  Not only was I warmly greeted but they placed me in the group of "good" players.  These players are great.  Most of them play in tournaments and have national rankings.  I was pleased to be able to play on the same court as those guys and learned a lot.  It was great fun and just as I was starting to make closer friends our time in town was up.
A view from Brasstown Bald
the tallest mountain in Georgia.

The top of Bell Mountain is quite bizzare
as it is full of colorful and creative graffiti.

The view of Chatuge Lake from the top
of Bell Mountain in Hiawassee, Georgia.

     So what did we do in the Hiawassee area?  The Russell-Brasstown National Scenic Byway took us to the top of Brasstown Bald Mountain, the tallest mountain in Georgia.  The 40 or 50 mile byway wound its way through mountains, along streams, past waterfalls and into the unique town of Helen, Georgia.  Around 80 years ago somebody convinced the population of the dying town of Helen that the best way to save the town was to turn it into a tourist trap.  So everybody agreed to reconstruct the town to resemble a typical German village.  Oh boy, what a success.  Today it remains a cute German-like tourist trap town with huge traffic jams during peak times.  Not my kind of place, but a 1-time must see.
Helen, Georgia

     Amicalola Falls State Park is not only famous for featuring the 3rd tallest waterfall in the east, but it hosts the approach trail to the top of Springer Mountain and the start of the Appalachian Trail.  The 729' waterfall is spectacular as the water cascades down the gorge.
Local legend has it that this ancient truck is from the crash of a "moonshiner"
either fleeing from the authorities or imbibing in too much of his own product.
The truck is located on an impossible perch halfway down
a steep gorge in Amicalola Falls State Park.

Amicalola Falls

Amicalola Falls

Nancy waiting for me to return from my ascent
of Amicalola Falls.

     And the hits just kept on coming as we visited Tallulah Gorge State Park.  The gorge trail into the heart of this park involved 600 steps down, crossing a flowing river by jumping boulder to boulder on wet slippery rocks, re-crossing the river 20 feet above a waterfall in waist deep water, traversing 3 60+ degree glass-smooth rock slabs, before climbing straight up the gorge wall back to the rim.  This was one of the most dangerous trails I have ever hiked.  People were falling everywhere.  I helped one young lady who sprained her ankle.  The most dangerous traverse required 100' passage on a slick rock 40' above the river.  The woman in front of me slipped and only a last second grasp of an ancient iron pin saved her from major bodily harm.  I talked to a Ranger after the hike and he told me that the park engages in frequent rescues and helicopter evacuations.  I am not sure that witnessing the immense beauty of the gorge was worth the risk.

Tallulah Gorge State Park

Tallulah Gorge State Park

Tallulah Gorge State Park

     As if there wasn't enough to do, I also discovered a fun mountain biking area near Hiawassee.  Jackrabbit Mountain featured 12 miles of single-track along the shore of Chatuge Lake.  And, more importantly, I didn't take any face plants or damaging spills; so...SCORE!
Tallulah Gorge State Park

Tallalah Gorge State Park.
This is the remains of the tower used for Karl
Wallenda's crossing of Tallulah Gorge.

     This area was fantastic and we are hoping for several return visits.  In fact, we are planning to get back here next Autumn.



  1. Love all the waterfall pictures, looks like a beautiful place. I would think that the water had to be pretty cold, I cannot believe Nancy went swimming!

  2. We have been to Tallulah Gorge when Lisa lived in Toccoa, GA for 2 years. It was only 20 minutes from where she lived and worked at the Blue Ridge Outdoor Education Center ( We actually have a picture of us in the same spot over the gorge as your picture and we saw the Wallenda tower, etc. Beautiful spot!

  3. Again- wonderful photos and stories. The US really is amazing. Happy that you are on your 3rd (?!) tour across the great states. By the way, the best little bar in Georgia kind of has a LaSalle's look. CT misses you both. Hugs and kisses till we see you!


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