Yonah Mountain (3166′), better known as Mount Yonah, is the great natural landmark of the Sautee-Nacoochee Valley. Located between Cleveland and Helen, it is seen here from its eastern slope. Yonah means bear in Cherokee.
Tag Archives: North Georgia Recreation
The Helen to Hardman Heritage Trail is one of the nicest walking/hiking trails in Northeast Georgia, following the Chattahoochee River from the edge of downtown Helen to the Hardman Farm State Historic Site.
Much of the prime riverside property was donated to the Trust for Public Land in 2007 by Ted Turner and his foundations, insuring forever its protection from development. The one mile trail (2 miles round trip) is also ADA accessible.
Lush vegetation and pristine river views can be found all along the paved trail. We also found a few bear scratches, so be careful on the trail.
In Helen, access the trail from the parking lot just below the Helen Tubing & Water Park off Edelweiss Strasse.
This great view of Lake Russell (not to be confused with Richard B. Russell Lake on the Savannah River) can be seen just past the parking area for the Chenocetah Mountain Fire Tower. The man-made lake is a favorite recreation spot in Habersham County and is part of the Chattahoochee National Forest.
This is the headwaters area of the Ocmulgee River, below the confluence of the Yellow, South, and Alcovy Rivers and Tussahaw Creek at Lloyd Shoals Dam on Lake Jackson.
A public park owned by Georgia Power affords access to the river here, on the Jasper County side off Highway 16; if you cross the bridge (driving west) into Butts County you can access Lloyd Shoals Dam.
Built as a privately-owned toll bridge spanning the Savannah River at the Georgia-South Carolina state line, the Smith-McGee Bridge was purchased by Georgia and South Carolina in 1926 and the toll removed. It’s a good example of the once-common camelback through truss design.
It was replaced with a new bridge in 1983. The eastern section of the bridge has been removed but it is open to pedestrians and is a popular spot for viewing the river.
Through the acquisition of private lands beginning in 1938, Cloudland Canyon State Park was established in 1939, with much of the initial work being done by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as part of FDR’s New Deal. Until this time, the only access to most of Dade County was through Alabama or Tennessee so the State of Georgia and the CCC built Georgia Highway 136 to connect the park and the county seat of Trenton to U. S. 41 and the rest of the state.
The park is located on the Cumberland Plateau atop Lookout Mountain, where Daniel Creek and Bear Creek converge to form Sitton Gulch Creek. The site was historically known as Sitton Gulch. Characterized by a dramatic gorge cut by Sitton Gulch Creek, Cloudland Canyon is over a thousand feet in overall depth, with elevations ranging from 800 to 1980 feet.
One of the most-visited state parks in Georgia, Cloudland Canyon offers something for everyone. Primitive campers, as well as “glampers” utilizing one of the well-appointed yurts or cottages, can spend days hiking the canyon, accessing waterfalls, caves and other amazing features. I highly recommend adding this to your Georgia “bucket list” if you’ve never visited. Even if you’re not an “experienced” hiker, the the Overlook Trail adjacent to the main parking lot is relatively easy. The views at the main overlook (above and below) are well worth the effort.
Summer is a great time to see native plants, such as the Golden St. Johns Wort (Hypericum frondosum) seen below. This species seems to grow right out of the rocks in places.
Overlook #2 is a short hike from the interpretive center and affords wonderful views of Bear Creek Gorge. It’s usually quite shaded and a bit difficult to photograph.
From the Overlook Trail, follow signs to the Waterfalls Trail. A quick descent and strenuous steps characterize this hike, which I didn’t complete due to time constraints.
Even if you can’t make it all the way to the falls, enjoy the geologic formations, including this well-known rock overhang.
Wild Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) is somewhat common on this section of the trail.
When I was visiting Amicalola Falls I met several Appalachian Trail (AT) thru-hikers just setting out on their journeys. This gentleman had just made the drive up from southern Louisiana and was surprised by the warm weather. The approach to the AT begins at Amicalola and winds its way up 8.5 miles to Springer Mountain, the trail’s southern terminus. Thousands of hikers pass through here every year with high hopes of making it all the way to Mount Katahdin, Maine. Most don’t quite make the grade, but all are drawn by the solitude and natural beauty of the trail. Whether seasoned hikers or first-timers, all come away from the experience with stories to tell.