We first fell in love in the North Georgia Mountains while hiking into Tallulah Gorge. Little would we know that one day we would own a home on the Tallulah River of which Lake Burton is a part.
If you are into picturesque trails with waterfalls and churning rivers and streams, you have come to the right place. This area of Georgia contains the greatest concentration of these in the southeastern United States along with beautiful mountain trails or just vistas – if you don’t feel inclined to walk far from your car.
But, before we go further, it is important to note that the Retreat on Lake Burton is located on Perrin Cove Road which itself offers a great walking trail, extending for more than a mile from the lake house offering panoramic views of the Lake and the lovely mountains surrounding it.
In this section, we have concentrated on those in northeast Georgia that are closest to the Lake. Our sincere thanks to Eric Champlin and www.atlantatrails.com to which we make reference throughout this section for greater detail and maps.
Directly off of the Lake at the Moccasin Creek State Park, paralleling Moccasin Creek is the 1 mile hike to Hemlock Falls. The trailhead is reached via a gravel road and is marked by a huge, inscribed boulder at the trail’s start.
Down the road a bit at Lake Rabun are a number of waterfalls, all within relatively short hiking distance from the road. These include Minnehaha and Angel Falls. A short distance beyond the Angels Falls are the Panther Falls.
The Tallulah Gorge is at the foot of the dam at Lake Rabun. It was used during the 1996 Olympics for the white water events. There are two preferred ways down. You can either use the steps, or there is the more challenging hike down the slope beneath the power lines located off of the main road, off of an unpaved parking area. In either case, it is highly recommended that you purchase a ticket at the Park Store. Otherwise, if you meet a forest ranger, you will get a very expensive ticket.
Just south of the Gorge off of old 441 is the Panther Creek Trail. This 7 mile round trip is detailed here for those that like a somewhat challenging hike along side a tumbling river with the ultimate reward of a beautiful waterfall.
The Coleman River Scenic Trail is located in the Chattahoochee National Forest, north of the Lake. It is short and parallels beautiful cascades of white water falls and pools. To get to it from the lake, you take the road off of Hwy 76 at the firestation. You pass through the picturesque Persimmon Valley ’til you see the entrance to the Chattahoochee National Forest on you left. The road parallels the Tallulah River on your left. The entrance to the Coleman River Scenic Trail has its own small parking area and will be on your right.
Further on, towards the end of the road, just beyond Tate City, you enter North Carolina. At the end of Tate City Road is a trail which heads up a road adjacent to the Tallulah River which at this point is a stream. This is the Beech Creek Trail. Almost immediately, you enter the Southern Nantahala Wilderness. The trail to Standing Indian is described as a very strenuous one but well worth the hike and the views.
Just west of Lake Burton is the city of Helen and the Unicoi State Park. There are numerous activities, none the least of which is hiking. One particularly lovely hike is around the Unicoi Lake. While in the area, hike up the 1/2 mile paved path to Anna Ruby Falls.
Just north of Helen, the highway crosses the Appalachian Trail at Unicoi Gap. You will note that the Trail crisscrosses the Lake Burton area from the southwest to the northeast on the west side of the Lake. Just beyond here on the right is the Indian Grave Gap Road that will lead you to the Blue Hole and High Shoals Creek Falls trail head. This is a beautiful cascading series of waterfalls and a great place for an overnight campout.
Just west of Helen are the beautiful Raven Cliff Falls – a 4.9 mile round trip hike through a waterfall filled valley – and not far from there the equally beautiful Dukes Creek Falls a short 1 mile hike along a paved path.
North of Clayton at Rabun Gap is the Blackrock Mountain State Park. It offers some fantastic hiking trails and beautiful scenic views, one of which is of Lake Burton and the surrounding area that can be easily reached from your car at a parking area near the top of the mountain. The 2.2 mile Tennessee Rock Trail is one of our favorites.
Further north still is Rabun Bald, the second highest point in Georgia. There a number of ways to reach the Rabun, the shortest being from Sky Valley. This 3 mile round trip hike starts off from a gravel road which leads to the trail. It is not too difficult and the spectacular views are well worth the effort.
The Chattooga River is just east of Clayton and forms the border between Georgia and South Carolina. This is 28.7 miles from the Lake. There are some beautiful trails that border the River – on both sides. On the Georgia side is the Bertram Trail which offers several moderately short hikes – longer if you like – from which the movie Deliverance was filmed. Included in these are the Chattooga River Trail from Russell Bridge and the Dick’s Creek Falls Trail off of Sandy Ford Road. Both trails can be reached off of Warwoman Road east of Clayton – go like you are continuing east on Hwy 76.
“… her charms never fade, they only, in their infinite variety, grow more compelling with time.”