Welcome to Georgia’s lake and mountain paradise!
Hiawassee and Towns County, Georgia
Connecting Town and Trail
Welcome to Georgia’s lake and mountain paradise! Hiawassee welcomes Appalachian Trail thru hikers, day hikers, and section hikers with a wide array of hiker-friendly businesses, events, and resupply options. Hiawassee is located a short 10-mile drive from two of Georgia’s major road crossing gaps on the Appalachian Trail, Dicks Creek Gap and Unicoi Gap.
Plan Your Visit
During the peak Northbound (NOBO) season, Hiawassee offers a free shuttle to and from Unicoi Gap and Dicks Creek Gap. In town, hikers can find a full array of resupply and hiker ameni-ties, including a large grocery store, a large full-service hiking outfitter store, pharmacies, hotels, doctor and medical services, a variety of restaurants and a brewery, and a variety of shop-ping and hiker-friendly businesses.
To show our love for hikers as one of Georgia’s oldest Appala-chian Trail communities, we offer Hiker Days events through-out hiking season, including a free “hiker feed” food event every Monday in March and April at the Hiawassee Town Square.
Famous as the home of the Georgia’s highest peak, Brasstown Bald, Hiawassee is full of gorgeous mountain scenery and rec-reation opportunities as well as some of the state’s best winer-ies. Surrounded by Georgia’s tallest mountains on the shore of Lake Chatuge, a clear mountain lake, the town of Hiawassee was originally inhabited by Cherokee tribes.
- Wander through Hamilton Gardens at Lake Chatuge, home of the largest collection of rhododendrons and native azaleas in the Southeastern United States.
- Explore Bell Mountain County Park and Historical Site – This 18-acre summit of Bell Mountain originally belonged to the Cherokee Indians. The site now includes 115 steps to the top observation deck and provides the best view of Lake Chatuge and the surrounding mountains. This spot is popular for hang gliding and also boasts “historical graffiti” on rocks around the observation area.
- Fiesta at Hiawassee Brew while you enjoy a great, cold beer and authentic Mexican food.
- Take a trip back in time at the Old Rock Jail Museum – a “must see” when visiting Hiawassee. This historic building is located just behind Hiawassee City Hall and is the home of hundred historic photos from early Hiawassee.
- Don’t miss Brasstown Bald – the highest point in Georgia reaching 4,784 feet. It is located on the south end of Towns County and includes an old fire tower used in year’s past to spot and map forest fires; an observation deck from which four states can be seen; an enclosed interpretive center and additional opportunities for hiking in the mountains.
- For a Girlfriend Getaway try visiting the two local vineyards, Crane Creek and Hightower Creek, and sip delicious wine made by grapes grown on-site. Then visit the Equani Spa at Brasstown Valley Resort and enjoy “the works”! Dine in style at the Copper Door Restaurant in nearby Hayesville, NC and finish the day by a crackling fire in a cozy mountain cabin.
- For family fun visit Cupid Falls Alpaca Farm and get up close and personal with some of the most interesting animals on earth! Nearby is Cupid Falls, a small waterfall safe for children and very easily accessed from the main road. Lunch at Mary’s Southern Grill where kids are always welcome and true southern made food is served. And, don’t forget your fishing poles on this trip because the kids will want to fish in the directly behind the Chamber of Commerce office. Finish the day at the Towns County Beach located on the main road (Hwy. 76). This is a great area for young kids to play in the sand and swim safely within a roped area.
- For the outdoorsy folks/outdoorsperson/outdoor lover/outdoorsy person who has a weekend to spend in the mountains, try camping at one of many campgrounds located around Towns County – all offering something a little bit different from the other. Rent a pontoon and take a day on Lake Chatuge to soak up the sun or fish for bass. Or, if you enjoy a slower pace and a tougher workout, try renting a kayak and tour the lake. Later, take a hike to Brasstown Bald Mountain from the parking area on Hwy. 180. Although there are several hikes to and around the Bald, the hike directly up from the parking area on Hwy. 180 is the hardest. And, don’t forget a picnic lunch because there are great spots for picnicking on Brasstown Bald.
- Maybe art and music are your cup of tea… try a class at the William Holland School of Lapidary Arts located in Young Harris. Or, take a weekend dance class at the John C. Campbell Folk School where traditional arts and skills are taught. Plan to arrive on Friday evening to the Folk School because free concerts are often available by guest musicians. And, back in Hiawassee, the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds and Mountain Home Music both offer country and gospel music concerts year-round.
• Bacchus Beer and Growlers
• Brasstown Bald, managed by the Cradle of Forestry in America Interpretive Association
• Farm House Antiques
• Goin’ Postal Hiawassee
• Ingles Markets
• Lake Chatuge Lodge
• Studio 116
• Towns County Chamber of Commerce
• Towns County Public Library
• Trailful Outdoor Co
• WJRB/WJUL Radio
These businesses support the Trail by taking part in the A.T. Community Supporter program.
Featured Local Hikes
Hike Difficulty Rating: Moderate
Hike length: 8.1 miles
Elevation change: 1,369 ft.
Description of treadway: rocky, rooty, dirt-based; crosses some paved areas; footbridge; stream
Hike start location: Brasstown Valley Resort, 6321 Hwy. 76 W., Young Harris, GA 30582 – use entrance for golf course/service entrance – parking is on right
Distance and direction from town center: 1 mile east of main intersection in Young Harris, GA.
Route type: complete loop from trailhead near parking area or shortcuts available marked by differing color blazes.
Overview: Easily accessible hiking trail for hikers of all levels made up of smaller loops for those with less hiking experience or less time available to hike.
Dogs: Required to be on leash
Detailed description: Miller Trek is a partnership between the USDA, USFS, and the Georgia DNR. You will see a variety of flowering plants, ranging in variety as the elevation changes from 1,804 feet to the trail’s highest point of 3,173 feet above sea level.
Along the trail, keep your eye out for some of the many types of wildlife that live in the forest, such as the white-tailed deer, red and gray fox, flying squirrels and black bears. The 6.5-mile trail is blazed in orange and has a 2.5 mile loop blazed in lime green for those hikers who are not looking for a lengthy hike. The blazes will take you back to Brasstown Valley Resort any direction you travel.
The hike starts at the trailhead parking near Brasstown Valley Resort (sign for parking is directly across from Hole #17 on the golf course). There is an arched entryway near parking area indicating the start of the trail and includes a plaque for Zell and Shirley Miller describing the role they played in the conservation of the land that Miller Trek passes through today.
0.0 – Miller Trek Parking
0.25 – Keys Branch Trail Junction (Begin Loop and Stay Right)
0.7 – Keys Branch Connector Junction South (Stay Right)
1.15 – Miller Trek Shortcut Junction South
2.9 – Rocky Knob Bluff Side Trail
3.1 – Rocky Knob Bluff Vista
3.6 – Cedar Knob Cliff Vista
4.3 – Miller Trek Trail
6.05 – Miller Trek Shortcut Junction North
6.7 – Keys Branch Connector Junction North (Turn Right)
7.85 – Miller Trek Trail Junction (End Loop)
8.1 – Miller Trek Parking
Maps are available at Brasstown Valley Resort (next to Miller Trek Trail) and the Towns County Chamber of Commerce located at 1411 Jack Dayton Circle, Young Harris, GA 30582 or download a PDF at www.golakechatuge.com; “What To Do”; “Hiking”.
Lake Chatuge Day Use Area
Hike Difficulty Rating: Easy
Elevation change: Dirt trail – none. Paved inside loop – very slight. Description of treadway: rocky, rooty, dirt-based; lakeside
- Hike start location: The Lake Chatuge Recreation Area is one mile down Hwy. 288 (Sunnyside Drive) from the stoplight at Sunnyside Road (Hwy. 288) and Hwy. 76. (If you turned onto Sunnyside Road (Hwy. 288) where there was no stoplight you are at the wrong end of this bypass road.) Turn in the main entrance for the Recreation Area and look immediately to your right for a small trail sign. This is the beginning of the trail and you can park a little further down where parking for boat trailers is or anywhere along the driveway. This used to be a campground and the road around the campground is now blocked by a gate. You can walk the paved loops or walk the lakeside trail that begins at the small trail sign noted above.
- Distance and direction from town center: 5 miles from downtown Hiawassee Route type: Loop trail along the shore of Lake Chatuge
- Overview: This trail offers a dirt trail along the banks of Lake Chatuge AND a paved trail (formerly a driveway for a campground). Dogs love this area and you will see many people walking their dogs here throughout the day. Dogs: Required to be on leash
- Detailed description: This area offers two types of trails – a natural lakeside path and a paved “road” that runs inside the natural path. The Lake Chatuge Recreation Day Use Area is a U. S. Forest Service former campground and offers a great place to hike, walk dogs and/or launch a boat or kayak. The area is also ideal for fishing from the banks. The Day Use Area is marked on Sunnyside Road by a brown sign erected years ago by the U.S. Forest Service. Parking is anywhere along the driveway into the recreational area or in the area used for vehicles with boat trailers. The trail is easy to find from the main driveway or from the boat launch area. The dirt trail does not change much in elevation throughout the hike. However, the paved trail inside the dirt trail does have one or two small hills. The dirt trail is maintained by volunteers and is normally in great shape.
Georgia Appalachian Trail Club
The Georgia Appalachian Trail Club manages, maintains and protects the Appalachian National Scenic Trail in Georgia with volunteers from its membership and the interested public. The Georgia Appalachian Trail Club promotes the appreciation of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and natural outdoor places through education and recreational activities, with an emphasis on conservation ethics and protection of the forests, their natural resources and wilderness areas. georgia-atclub.org.
ATC Volunteer Program
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is always looking for dedicated volunteers to help maintain the A.T. and assist in our visitor center and headquarters. Opportunities range from greeting visitors and providing information about local hikes to joining a Trail crew for week-long maintenance trips, gaining first-hand experience in what it takes to keep the A.T. open and enjoyable for millions each year. Learn more at appalachiantrail.org/volunteer.
Towns County Farmer’s Market – open every Saturday morning, May through September, from 9:00 a.m. – noon at the Towns County Beach Area parking lot.
Bird watching on Lake Chatuge with the Hiawassee River Watershed Coalition – check website for dates – https://hrwc.net/.
Mountain Egg Fest – cooking on big green eggs – www.georgiamountainfairgrounds.com