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the mountain

Fall 2014

Explore the mountains of Northeast Georgia

TOP Spots to play outdoors in Northeast Georgia

Where to... hike, bike, camp, shop, eat, stay

The Clayton Tribune • White County News The Dahlonega Nugget • Dawson News & Advertiser The Northeast Georgian

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here is nothing like cool morning breezes after a blistering Georgia summer. Our high blue skies and gurgling mountain streams do help ease us through the hot months, but then here comes autumn. Folks, this is my favorite time of the year. Our green leaves magnificently transform into brilliant almost magical colors this time of year. And it is definitely when Northeast Georgia shines her brightest. Autumn is a time when you can put on that favorite longsleeved shirt and feel good about it. And fireplaces begin burning stacks of oak and hickory, which crackle, warm and soothe our souls. Welcome to Northeast Geor- Alan NeSmith gia, a charming place where people look you in the eye, ask how you’re doing and mean it. This publication is the combined effort of five community newspapers in this area. No one knows the pulse of these communities better than the reporters and editors who serve the residents. You’re digging into a guide for residents and visitors alike, while getting the inside scoop. The Mountain Traveler features interesting facts about the area, short stories, a map to meet the traveler’s needs and a calendar of events. And please pay close attention to the advertisements promoting our shops, fine restaurants and businesses. Many minds and hands contributed to this product with Lane Gresham overseeing all content and Gabby Parham working her magic in paginating the final product. Please enjoy their hard work and the efforts of all our writers, photographers and graphic artists who contributed. If you need more information while you’re here, please contact one of the newspapers that helped produce this product. Our contact information is on page 111. We’re excited you’re here. And we trust you will find our home a great place to visit. Alan NeSmith Regional Publisher

Table of Contents Festivals and events............................................ 6-8 Leaf forecast.............................................................9 Hemlock, chestnut trees...................................... 11 Guide to area waterfalls....................................... 14 Regional Map................................................... 54-55 Index of Advertisers....................................115-117


Destination Dawson County

Sport of shooting.........................................................18 Georgia Racing Hall of Fame..................................20 Elliot partnership........................................................22 Horseback rider’s delight.........................................26


Destination Rabun County


Destination Habersham County


Destination White County


Destination Lumpkin County


Destination Hall County

Historic trails................................................................30 Couples retreat............................................................32 Music on the mountain............................................36 Puppy playground.....................................................38

Zombie Fun Run.........................................................44 Fall at the gorge..........................................................48 Fall ArtFest....................................................................59 Hills of Habersham ride............................................62

Unicoi Wine Festival..................................................68 Horse-drawn carriage tours....................................72 Sautee Jamboree........................................................76 Unicoi Lodge makeover...........................................82 Hardman House Tours..............................................86

Haunted history .........................................................88 Soundtrack of Dahlonega.......................................92 Scenic drives................................................................94 Holly Theatre................................................................98

Northeast Georgia History Center........................98 The Mountain Traveler is owned by Community Newspapers, Inc., Athens, Ga. Community Newspapers retains the rights to all materials and photographs used in this publication. Copyright 2014. About the cover: Noted Clayton photographer Peter McIntosh captured the lonely beauty of the Chattooga River as it appears in late October with this time-lapse photograph of the river at Dick’s Creek Ledge. The splendor of autumn leaves along the river add to the scene. See more of Peter’s work at


The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

Festivals & Events

Jaemor Farms in Alto is one fall destination featuring a corn maze, shown here from an aerial perspective. Marie Nease/Wingdreamer Photography

Sept. 27Dec. 13, 2014 Ongoing • Saturdays through November – Simply Homegrown: A Farmers Market. Clayton City Hall Complex, 9 a.m.noon. Details: • Saturdays through mid-November – Bluegrass on the Square, Tallulah Falls. • Every third Friday all year, Dawsonville Cruise-In car show around the square downtown, 5-8 p.m. • Tour the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday-Saturday, noon-4 p.m., NASCAR races on the big screen during racing season. Sept. 27 • 5th annual Experience A Taste of Clarkesville, noon-3 p.m., Downtown Clarkesville. Details: clarkesvillega. com, 706-754-2220. • Capture Clarkesville Photo Walk, noon-2 p.m., Downtown Clarkesville. Details:, 706-7542220. • Hambidge Weaving Demonstration, 10 a.m.- 5 p.m., Bettys Creek Road, Rabun Gap. Gives visitors a glimpse into the complex craft of weaving. Details: • 4th Annual Six Gap Criterium, warm up to the Sunday Six-Gap ride, fullspeed circuit race of professional and amateur riders pedaling their way around Dahlonega’s historic Gold Museum. Details: Sept. 28 • 26th annual Six Gap, Three Gap Fifty and Valley rides wind their ways through the steep climbs and rolling hills of the Appalachian back-roads surrounding Dahlonega. Details: Sept. 27-28 • Wateree Cutting Horse Association show. Rabun Arena, Tiger. Details:

Oct. 1, 3, 8, 10, 11, 15, 17, 25 • Tallulah Gorge Aesthetic Water Release.

Hambidge Center, Bettys Creek Road, Rabun Gap. Details:

Oct. 1-31 • 44th Annual Oktoberfest, Festhalle, Helen. German music, dancing, food and drinks, nightly through Nov. 2. Festhalle opens at 1 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. Details: 706-878-1908.

Oct. 11 • 2014 Hills of Habersham Bike Ride, Kids Fun Ride. Details: 706-754-4654, • 27th annual 2014 Big Red Apple Festival, downtown Cornelia. Details: • Great ARTdoors Festival at Hambidge Center, Bettys Creek Road, Rabun Gap. Full access is granted to the 600-acre artist sanctuary, with hiking trails, waterfalls, food, music and entertainment. Details: • Georgia Mountain Jubilee, 10 a.m.5 p.m., Clayton. Car show, food, arts and crafts and entertainment. Details: • Fall Celebration, Smithgall Woods State Park, north of Helen, noon to 4 p.m., pioneer exhibits, hayrides, craft vendors. Details: 706-878-3087.

Oct. 3 • First Friday Fest, The Rock House, downtown Clayton, 5:30-8 p.m. Free music and entertainment. Food and drink, shopping, dining. Oct. 4 • Downtown Clayton Sidewalk Art Show & Sale, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. • 20th Annual Foxfire Mountaineer Festival, 10 a.m. until. Old-fashioned fun, food, crafts, and music, Rascal Race (soap box derby), street dance. Behind Rabun County Civic Center and Clayton Municipal Complex. Admission. Details: • Barker’s Creek Grist Mill, 1-4 p.m. at

Oct. 18 • Fall Festival at Sky Valley, 10 a.m.-4



The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

p.m., Sky Valley Resort. Fall fest parade, hay bale trail, scarecrow music, waterfall, hay rides. Details: • Art-Oberfest, Helen Arts & Heritage Center, Helen. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m, artists’ booths and attic treasures. Details: 706878-3933, Oct. 18-19 • Gold Rush Days, crafts, contests, kidfriendly events and more. Free. Details:

Lumpkin County Chamber of Commerce host a haunting evening of pint-sized ghouls, ghosts and other trick or treaters on the Public Square. Nov. 1 • Barker’s Creek Grist Mill, 1-4 p.m. at Hambidge Center, Bettys Creek Road, Rabun Gap. Details: • Unicoi Wine Festival, Hardman Farm, Sautee Nacoochee, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Featuring six White County wineries, arts

Nov. 27 • Clayton Cluckers Turkey Trot, 8 a.m. registration, race, 9 a.m. Thanksgiving morning race to benefit Rabun County Food Pantry, costumes encouraged. Details: • Holiday Shopping Extravaganza & Festival of Trees, 9 am.-5 p.m. at Rabun County Civic Center. Proceeds benefit Richard’s Kids, non-profit providing Christmas gifts for needy children. Details: Margaret Dunn, 706-982-9432.

Oct. 24-25 • Hillbilly Hog BBQ Throwdown & Fall Leaf Festival, BabyLand General Hospital, Cleveland. Friday evening and during the day on Saturday. Oct. 25 • 2nd Annual Clarkesville Kiwanis Zombie Fun Run. Details: Find Clarkesville Kiwanis or Kiwanis Zombie Fun Run on Facebook, clarkesvillekiwanis@ • Fall ArtFest 2014, presented by Burnt Burbon Pottery Gallery & Studio and the Tanyard Branch Heritage Center, 330 Foster St., Cornelia, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Details: 706-499-8067, email • Soque River Ramble, Wilbanks Farm, Batesville. Details: • Trick or Treat Main Street, Clayton. 12-1 p.m. Details: • NOA Zombie Run, 5K, Yahoola Creek Park, Dahlonega. Dodge zombies on the run while raising funds and awareness for NOA (No One Alone) which fights against domestic violence in the area. Details: Oct, 25-26 • 47th Annual Mountain Moonshine Festival, Dawsonville, 9 a.m., Saturday, vendors, live entertainment around the square in downtown Dawsonville, car show, cruise-in and swap meet, Moonshine Run, Friday, 10 a.m., registration starts at 9 a.m. Benefits KARE for Kids, Inc. Oct. 31 • Trick or Treat on the Downtown Square, 5-7 p.m., Clarkesville. Details:, 706-754-2220. • Trick-or-Treat Dahlonega, Dahlonega-

A solo fiddler spends a quiet moment tuning up before performing. Live music is featured in many regional festivals and events. John Bynum/Staff

and crafts, music and food. Details: 706865-5356, Nov. 1-2 • Oktoberfest, final two days in Helen. See listing above. Nov. 7-9 • Hemlockfest 2014, Starbridge, state Route 115, east of Dahlonega. Annual music-fest, ranging from singer folk, blue/ newgrass, blues, classic oldies, Celtic rock, and jam band, activities, primitive camping, arts and crafts, food vendors and festival merchandise. Fundraiser, awareness to help save the Hemlock trees that define southern Appalachia. Details: Nov. 8 • Georgia Sky to Summit 5K, 7-11 a.m. Starts and finishes in Sky Valley, the highest city in Georgia. This is a qualifier for the 2014 Georgia Death Race. Details: Nov. 22 • BabyLand Appalachian Christmas, BabyLand General Hospital, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Details: 706-865-2171,

Nov. 27-Jan. 1, 2015 • Holiday Light Spectacular at Cornelia City Park, open until 11 p.m. every night from Thanksgiving Day until New Year’s Day. Drive through Cornelia City Park after dusk to see this free holiday light spectacular. Details:

Nov. 28 • Christmas in Downtown Clayton, 5-9 p.m. Visit Santa Claus, shop Main Street stores decorated for Christmas. Luminaries, refreshments, strolling musicians and carolers. Details: • Annual Lighting of the Village, downtown Helen. 6 p.m. Details: 706878-2181, Nov. 28- Dec. 21 • Old Fashioned Christmas, monthlong celebration of the holiday season, Christmas parade, the lighting of the square, the lighting of the tree, live nativity, Santa. Details: Nov. 29 • Visit Santa at Rock House in Clayton, noon-3 p.m.

Dec. 5 • Lighting of the tree, downtown Tallulah Falls, community pot-luck, carolers, visits with Santa. Dec. 5-7, 12-14 • Charity Lane Festival of Lights, 5:30-10:30 p.m. Seven-mile stretch of scenic highway in the Wolffork Valley decorated for the holidays. $10/donation per car goes to local charities. Details:


The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

5356, Dec. 6 • Christmas Tour of Homes, White • Habersham County Christmas County, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Details: 706Parade, 10 a.m., Clarkesville. Details: 865-5356,, 706-754-2220. • Battle for Black Rock, Clayton, 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Two races, 12 and 36 miles. Details: sean@ • Rabun County Christmas Parade, 5-7 p.m., Main Street, Clayton. Details: downtownclaytonga. org. • 2nd annual Dawsonville Christmas in downtown Christmas parade Dahlonega brings visitors and tree lighting. and residents together to Downtown savor the holiday spirit. Dawsonville. John Bynum/Staff • Annual Christmas Parade, downtown Helen, 2 p.m. Santa comes to the Alpine Village. Details: • Christmas at the Cabin, Sautee Nacoochee Center, old-fashioned, • Annual Christmas in the Mountains slow-paced Christmas celebration with and Lighted Christmas Parade, crafts, caroling and more. Details: 706downtown Cleveland, 4 p.m. with 878-3300, parade at 7 p.m. Details: 706-865-

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Dec. 7 • River Vista Half Marathon and 10K, 7 a.m. and 12 noon. Details: Dec. 13 • A Downtown Clarkesville Christmas, 6-8 p.m., Clarkesville. Details: or 706-754-2220. Dec. 17-21 • Christmas in Cornelia, Cornelia City Park, hours vary. Details: Explorecornelia. com. Dec. 31 • New Year’s Eve Extravaganza - to benefit Foothills Counseling Center. Details: • Dropping of the Edelweiss, Helen. Festhalle New Year’s Eve event. Details: 706-878-1908, helenchamber. org.

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The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

Autumn color highlights fall drives. Kimberly Brown/Staff

Fall forecaster predicts ‘golden’ autumn


ith the autumn season emerging, hints of the leaflooking season are appearing. Just what fall will bring for leaf looking is often a guessing game, especially when we will see peak color, because of variables in the weather. Why the weather? Wet or dry, warm or cold, weather conditions factor heavily into how bright leaves will be and how long a leaf-looking season we will enjoy. It’s chemistry in action. As the calendar pushes to the end of September and into October and daylight hours dwindle, the green pigment in leaves, chlorophyll, degrades. As chlorophyll disappears, other colors such as oranges and yellows are revealed. The vibrant reds we enjoy are generated in Sep-

By Donald Fraser, The Northeast Georgian

tember and October when leaves produce sugars, called anthocyanins. The chemistry for producing the best reds requires sunny days and cool nights. Consequently, if it’s rainy, cloudy and there is little chill to the air, production of red is minimal and we see a dull autumn, as leaves go from green to boring brown. The mountains of Northeast Georgia and Western North Carolina are ideal for leaf viewing because of elevation changes and the likelihood of variable weather conditions. In Habersham County, it may be cloudy and warm, but just two hours north the mountains of North Carolina may provide optimum leaf looking conditions. Mountain peaks may provide early frosts and cooler temperatures for early fall conditions in October, while lower elevations could see

fall conditions extend into early November. Western Carolina University professor Kathy Mathews, Ph.D., predicts “an extended fall color season this year with spotty color development.” “Abundant spring rains portend more muted fall color, based on past observations,” Mathews said. “Rainfall predictions for this fall are murky at best, but look for clear, sunny conditions through September to produce the best bursts of fall color,” she said. Citing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Mathews said the seasonal outlook is expected to be slightly above average in temperatures during fall in the southeast, which could mean an extended color season well into November. “Experience dictates that our ▶


The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

AccuWeather is predicting a rainy fall. AccuWeather

abundant tulip poplars, which are among the first trees to change color in fall, perform well in wetter conditions, developing a golden hue that persists longer before browning,” Mathews said. She noted trees producing red leaves, such as sourwood, red maple and dogwood, perform best in dry conditions. “Therefore, we may see fewer brilliant reds during the peak of fall color change but a long color season of many shades,” Mathews said.

The fall weather forecast

An early fall weather forecast by the AccuWeather. Com Center paints a poor picture for hopeful leaf lookers in the southeast U.S. In a late summer AccuWeather forecast, the Southeast coast, from Florida up through North Carolina, could receive a direct impact from a tropical system this fall, according to AccuWeather Lead LongRange Forecaster Paul Pastelok. “We are looking at a low number count for the tropics in the Atlantic, but we may have a couple more storms on the way,” Pastelok said. “We’ve seen September in Kimb erly B past years as an rown /Staff active month during past El Niño years, so don’t count the season out yet.” Areas affected range from Cape Hatteras, N.C.,

Fall color is predicted to be vibrant in Northeast Georgia this season. Shown is the Tallulah River during a previous year. Tanya Smith/Special

down through Daytona Beach, Florida,” Pastelok said. He also predicts “regardless of tropical activity this season, the Southeast will feel the effects of El Niño with an increase in stormy weather and rain.” “Areas from New Orleans to Jackson, Miss., and Atlanta will see above-normal rainfall for the season,” Pastelok said. “A busy secondary severe weather season may transpire late in the fall from mid-October to November across portions of the South, further drenching the region.” ■


Hemlock, chestnut trees share similar stories By KIMBERLY BROWN, The Northeast Georgian

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Shown around 1900 in the Chattahoochee National Forest is an example of the majestic American chestnut. By 1940, most mature American chestnuts were wiped out by chestnut blight, which was most likely brought into the country on foreign plants. For decades, the American Chestnut Foundation has cross-bred the American chestnut with other varieties in an attempt to make it blight resistant. Photo/Courtesy of Ted Doll



The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

Dudley Sisk of Clarkesville has treated his own eastern hemlocks, and many trees in his neighborhood, for the hemlock woolly adelgid. Sisk said the chemical treatment he applied has worked well and all signs of infestation are gone, though he regularly checks the trees. Kimberly Brown/Staff

he stories of two majestic trees in southern forests are ones of hope and loss. Years ago, the American chestnut was a predominant tree on the East Coast and in the Appalachian Mountains. Now, because of blight and root rot, it’s largely gone. But efforts are being made to restore the tree, through breeding programs of the American Chestnut Foundation (ACF). Facing a similar fate is the majestic eastern hemlock, which graces forests and stream banks, providing shade to keep creeks and rivers cool. For about 10 years now, the hemlock has been attacked by foreign insects, called hemlock woolly adelgids, which are killing the trees in wide swaths. Chestnut blight and hemlock woolly adelgids are a direct result of our global economy, since insects and plant diseases “come into this country in droves, into the port of Savannah, and the port at Brunswick,” said botanist Jim Sullivan, who works with the Georgia Forestry Commission and the U.S. Forest Service. “It’s a result of our global economy and also our desire to keep things moving fast,” Sullivan said. “We’d have to really slow down now to prevent this from happening. This won’t be the last alien insect to do damage.” American chestnuts used to be more plentiful than hemlocks are now. Nathan Klaus, of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division, said the American chestnut once made up 40-70 percent of trees in our forests. “What’s going on now is the death of the species in

The hemlock woolly adelgid is a pest destructive to eastern hemlocks and Carolina hemlocks. Hemlock trees can be treated chemically or by introducing beetles which feed on the insects, but the hemlock woolly adelgid is killing the trees faster than they can be treated. File photo

the wild,” Klaus said. “There are root sprouts from trees that have been there before the blight came along. They sprout, make it for five or 10 years, and the blight gets in them and knocks them down again.” Klaus said, for decades, the ACF has been breeding American chestnuts with other types of chestnut tree, such as Chinese and Italian, to try to “impart resistance to chestnut blight and root rot.” Through cross-breeding, he said, “They’re getting close to the point of having something that’s 95-98 percent American chestnut.” Several parks and national forest areas in Northeast



The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

The 10th HemlockFest, a benefit event to save hemlock trees, will be held Nov. 7-9 at 396 Starbridge Road, Dahlonega.

Shown are American chestnut seedlings planted at Smithgall Woods State Park as part of the American Chestnut Foundation program to hybridize the tree with a Chinese or Italian chestnut, making it blight resistant. Kimberly Brown/Staff

Georgia are participating in the chestnut experiment. This spring, two hybrids and six 100-percent American chestnuts were planted at Smithgall Woods State Park. Smithgall interpretive ranger Johnna Tuttle said she is excited about their participation. “We’ve got 6,000 acres here, and we do hope to have a full [chestnut] orchard,” she said. “That’s part of our mission, to have rare and endangered species from this area, to give them a place to grow, and experiment with them.” What’s being done to stem death of the hemlocks? Since 2003, Sullivan has worked on controlling woolly adelgids, including chemical treatment and “biological controls” – releasing predator beetles which feed solely on adelgids. Sullivan is not worried eastern hemlocks will become endangered, because at the northern end of the range in New England and Canada, it gets too cold for the insects in the wintertime. However, they could very well die out in Northeast Georgia. “The hemlock that’s going to end up on the endangered species list is the Carolina hemlock,” he said. “The entire range of Carolina hemlock is encompassed by the adelgid, so Carolina hemlock really doesn’t stand much of a chance.” What happens if the hemlock disappears in our area? Duncan Hughes, watershed coordinator at North Georgia Technical College, said like what happened with the American chestnut, “something will come in behind it.” “If all hemlocks die, theoretically, something else would fill that niche,” he said. “But I hate to look at it that way, because I love the hemlocks. They’re beautiful trees and they serve valuable ecological purposes. I think something would come in behind them, but I don’t know if it would be as beautiful or serve the exact ecological

The annual event offers 2-1/2 days of “Good music, good food, good purpose, good people, good times.” In addition to music, the event will have camping, crafts and canoeing for all ages. There will be about 19 bands and entertainers, as well as beverages (Terrapin Brewery providing beer, with ID), natural crafts vendors, interactive presentations and exhibits, and lots of activities (including a Kid’s Nature Village). HemlockFest is an “environmentally friendly gathering” and litter-free event, with recycling stations available. Firewood will be available for a donation. For more information, visit

role.” However, Klaus said, “When you lose a hemlock, you’re not just losing a hemlock. You’re losing a lot of other things that go with them.” In addition to trout which live in hemlock-shaded streams, the endangered persistent trillium, a small plant growing only in Tallulah Gorge State Park, depends on the cool shade provided by the hemlock. Though Sullivan is “no fan of chemical treatment,” he agreed chemicals work well. “There’s just no way we can treat all the trees in the forest,” he said. “Though controversial, chemical treatment will allow us to have hemlocks in our forests, to learn from them, to try to figure out how to deal with [the adelgids]. To Sullivan, prognosis for the hemlock is bleak, because, “Trees that aren’t treated are going to succumb.” However, there are “hopeful signs.” “There are places where hemlock seems to be hanging in there, where we’ve released predators,” he said. “The predators are reproducing on their own in the forest. It’s just the hemlock woolly adelgid reproduces so much faster.” Though individual consumers can’t control foreign insects coming into ports, we can be careful about purchasing non-native plants and bringing firewood into an area where it doesn’t belong. “Maybe it’s better to go out in the woods and find a nice little white oak seedling to plant in your yard, instead of buying whatever crazy thing you can get that’s not from Georgia,” Klaus said. For more information about the American chestnut, see For information about treating hemlock woolly adelgid, see forest-health/hemlock-woolly-adelgid. ■


The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

A small waterfall on the Hemlock Falls trail in Rabun County is one of many waterfall hikes found in Northeast Georgia. Georgia Zumwalt/Special


Guide to area waterfalls

ortheast Georgia is home to a variety of waterfalls offering breathtaking views and quiet places for contemplation. Access and degree of difficulty varies. Included below is a guide to many of the waterfalls in Dawson, Habersham, Lumpkin, Rabun and White counties.

Dawson County Amicalola Falls The stunning Amicalola Falls, located in Amicalola Falls State Park, is 729 feet tall. It was named Amicalola, which means “tumbling waters,” by the Cherokee Indians. Several viewing spots for the falls are easily accessible. Amicalola Falls State Park is located on state Route 52. Bearden Falls Bearden Falls is in the Chattahoochee National Forest. There is no designated trail. At the headwaters

of Nimblewill Creek is Bearden Creek. Follow Nimblewill Creek and Bearden Creek (the right fork) for approximately 1.5 miles and you’ll find the falls. From Dahlonega, take state Route 52 W. for 8 miles to Nimblewill Church Road on the right. Follow Nimblewill Rd. for 4.5 miles to the National Forest boundary and continue on FS28-2 for 2 more miles, where the road begins to climb the side of Frosty Mountain on the way to Nimblewill Gap. Pull off to the right to begin the hike to the falls.

Cochrans Falls Cochrans Falls cascades approximately 600 feet from peak to base. The falls descend from Frosty Mountain and cascade before changing to a series of smaller cascades. To reach Cochrans Falls, go west on state Route 52 from Dahlonega 14.5 miles to the second entrance for Wesley Chapel Road just inside Dawson County. Turn right on Wesley Chapel Road and, after nearly a mile, turn left on Dan Fowler Road. Go 1.2 miles, turn left on Blackhawk Road and go about two miles.

Fall Creek Falls Fall Creek Falls is a set of four waterfalls, the second and largest of which is more than 75 feet high. Follow state Route 136 to the Dawson/ Pickens County line and turn south on Monument Road. The trailhead is three miles on the left at the kiosk. Follow Tobacco Pouch Trail 0.3 miles to the junction with Fall Creek Trail, then go 3.3 miles.

Habersham County Cascade Falls A moderate to difficult one-way hike, the Rhododendron Trail starts at the historic Chenocetah Fire Tower in Cornelia and descends to Lake Russell in Mt. Airy. The trail to the almost hidden Cascade Falls is 1.75 miles in and is good for families and novice hikers. The complete trail to Lake Russell is approximately



The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

2.6 miles in. From Cornelia’s Main Street, turn onto Wyly Street. Across from the City Park, turn onto Chenocetah Drive and then follow the road to the top of the mountain. The trail starts on the left, across from the marble entrance sign. Follow the blue blazes. Panther Creek Trail and Falls This 6.6-mile trail begins across the highway from the Panther Creek Recreation Area on Historic Highway 441. The trail is on steep slopes that fall to the creek below. There are scenic views, including wildflowers, cascading portions of the creek, then Panther Creek Falls. Panther Creek Falls is 3.3 miles in. Do not be fooled by the high shoals that are 2.3 miles in.

A sign at the trailhead lets visitors know the history of the discovery of a plate of armor in the 1880s. Dicks Creek Falls The falls are located at the convergence of Dicks Creek and Waters Creek in the Chattahoochee National Forest. To reach the falls, take U.S. 19 13.7 miles to Mt. Piscah Church Road and turn left. Travel 2.6 miles to the falls, which will be on the left. Parking is available on the right. Black Falls Black Falls is on the Etowah River and is on the property of Camp Frank D. Merrill, 11 miles north of Dahlonega. Access may be restricted. Check with the visitors’

Lumpkin County Cane Creek Falls Located on the grounds of Camp Glisson, Cane Creek Falls is open to the public during daylight hours except when camp is in session. You must check in at the Visitors Center prior to visiting the falls. Panther Creek Falls is a popular hiking destination To reach the falls in Northern Habersham County. File photo from Dahlonega, follow Business U.S. Hwy. 19 and state center before attempting to visit the Route 60 north for 2 miles. Turn falls. To reach the camp, travel north left at the sign for Camp Glisson on U.S. 19 for 2 miles and turn left (across from Ace Hardware) and go onto Camp Wahsega Road. Follow 1 mile to the parking area near the bottom of the falls. Swimming is not this road for 9 miles to the entrance. permitted and fishing is permitted on Blood Mountain Creek a catch-and-release basis. Three falls flow from Blood Mountain Creek. To reach the falls, DeSoto Falls take U.S. 19 north 13.7 miles and Two waterfalls can be viewed turn left on to Mt. Piscah Church from the DeSoto Falls Trails. Trout Road. Travel 3.3 miles to the ford fishing in Frogtown Creek is alacross Crow Mountain Creek. Conlowed and camping is available. tinue for 1 mile to Blood Mountain To reach the falls, from Dahlonega Creek. A difficult and unmaintained, travel north on U.S. 19 for 13.5 but well-used trail follows the left miles to Turners Corner. At this side of the creek. The lower falls are intersection, turn left and proceed about 100 yards from the road. The on U.S. 129 for 4.2 miles. Turn left middle falls are another 50 yards after you pass the Walasi-yi Center.


Rabun County Hemlock Falls This 15-foot falls is on a scenic trail directly across from Moccasin Creek State Park. Children may be interested in the Lake Burton Fish Hatchery next door to the campgrounds. Fingerlings can be seen in the concrete raceways. From Clarkesville, take state Route 17 to Alternate SR 255. When this road dead ends, turn right onto SR 255. In Batesville, turn left onto SR 197, driving past LaPrade’s at Lake Burton to Moccasin Creek State Park. You might also drive SR 197 North all the way from Clarkesville and stop at public portions of the Soque River, which both starts and ends in Habersham County. You can also stop at Mark of the Potter and visit a repurposed mill and feed some tame trout from the back deck of the mill. Panther Falls/Angel Falls These falls are close to the Rabun Beach Recreational Area. Turn right into Area 2 of the recreation area. Drive back along the loop road to the sign designating the trailhead. This is an easy trail that follows Joe Branch north of the recreation area to the two waterfalls. Panther Falls is located about a half mile up the trail, while Angel Falls is another 600 yards farther down the trail. Becky Branch Falls (Tallulah Ranger District) This 20-foot cascade is located just five minutes from downtown Clayton and is easily accessible. From Clayton, drive east on Warwoman Road for 2.8 miles and park on left side of road by branch. Walk up the right side of branch on the ▶


The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

Dawson County

trail for about 200 yards to a bridge at base of falls.

Clayton for 10 miles. Turn left on F.S. Road 7 (Hale Ridge Road) and drive 9 miles. Park to the east of intersection with Overflow Creek Road (F.S. 86).

the right which lead to the falls.

Mud Creek Falls Also known as Little Estatoah, Darnell Creek Falls the falls have a vertical drop of 100 A pretty little waterfall that is feet and flow into Estatoah Falls easy to get to, and not far off the in Dillard. Take U.S. 441 north to Martin Creek Falls main road. This two-tier waterfall is 35 feet Dillard. Turn right on state Route From Clayton, drive north on 246 and follow signs U.S. 441 to the to Sky Valley. At Sky Rabun Gap Post Minnehaha Falls located off Bear Gap Road in Habersham Valley’s entrance Office. Turn right County is an easy hike for families. File photo gate, turn left. Turn onto Kellys Creek right on Tahoe Road Road. Go 1 mile and and follow to the turn right on Darnell falls. Creek Road. Continue 0.4 mile, bear White County left at the fork with the private Chestnut Anna Ruby Falls Mountain Road. When you see Drive across the this natural wonder, bridge and bear right you’ll understand for another 0.3 mile. why each year, Park at the fork and 50,000 people come take the right fork from all over the onto the old wood world to view the road. Hike is about Chattahoochee National Forest’s high with aquatic plants covering 0.25 mile to the falls. most popular attraction. Located off the weeping rock wall on the left. Dick’s Creek Falls (Tallulah state Route 356 north of Helen and This 20-minute walk (0.5 mile in Ranger District) adjacent to Unicoi State Park, Anna length) follows the Bartram Trail This waterfall is about 60 feet Ruby Falls tumbles down the side along the west side of the creek. high and makes a sheer drop over of 4,430-foot Tray Mountain. From Clayton, go east on Wara granite mound into the ChatIt’s actually two falls: Curtis woman Road for 3 miles. Turn left tooga River. From Clayton, drive Creek (153 feet high) and York onto F.S. Road 152 and drive past 6 miles east on Warwoman Road. the Game Checking Station. Park in Creek (50 feet) drop to a plunge Turn right onto Dick’s Creek Road small cleared camping area on the pool to form Smith Creek. Start at or Sand Ford Road. Go 0.5 mile, the visitor center and climb a halfleft at a sharp left bend in the road. then take left across the creek. Go mile paved trail along the whitewaWalk west from the camping area. 3.5 miles. Cross second ford and ter creek. Charge is $3 per person, Cross Martin Creek, then travel park at Bartram Trail sign. Follow ages 16 and up. Kids age 15 and uphill for about 0.4 mile to the top trail north to Dick’s Creek. Folunder are admitted free. of the falls. low creek to viewing area at top of falls. Minnehaha Falls (Tallulah Dukes Creek Falls Ranger District) Seeing Dukes Creek Falls takes Holcomb Creek Falls (Tallulah The Minnehaha Trail (0.4 mile a bit of legwork, but it’s worth the Ranger District) in length) follows Fall Branch until effort. Park at the Dukes Creek The Holcomb Creek Trail (1.3 it dead ends at Minnehaha Falls. Falls Recreation Area, off Richard miles in length) begins at the This waterfall is approximately 100 B. Russell Scenic Highway ($4 fee intersection of Hale Ridge Road feet high (falling and shoaling). per vehicle). A handicapped-acces(F.S. Road 7) and Overflow Road Take Historic Hwy. 441 South sible path takes you to an overlook, (F.S. Road 86) and follows a short from downtown Clayton to Lake but after that, you’ll descend steep loop to its end on Hale Ridge Road. Rabun Road. Continue on Lake stairs and continue on a dirt trail The trail passes Holcomb Creek Rabun Road for 6.2 miles. Take for almost a mile down to the falls. Falls (which drops and flows overs a left on Low Gap Road (at Flat There, you’ll see not one but two shoals for approximately 150 feet) Creek Community sign). Bear left cascades, fed by Davis and Dodd and Ammons Creek Falls, where onto Bear Gap Road for 1.6 miles creeks. The Davis falls is high (200 there is an observation deck. to a small pullout on the left. The feet) and narrow; the Dodd falls is Take Warwoman Road east from trail starts on some wooden steps to shorter, but wide and thundering. ■


Dawson County Destination

Find out more Sport of shooting 18 Georgia Racing Hall of Fame 20 Elliot partnership 22 Horseback rider’s delight 26

In this photo... Amicalola Falls in Dawson County is a destination for residents and visitors throughout the year. Kevin Kellas/Special


Dawson County

The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

Rich Bellocchio and Steve Tannenbaum take shots from atop a pickup truck along the course. McKenzie Hamby/Special

Keeping the sport of shooting alive


By Melissa Mayton, Dawson News & Advertiser

passion for the sport of shooting is what keeps Mike Brunner and Richard Becker coming to work every day. Brunner and Becker are partners at Etowah Valley Sporting Clays shooting facility, 105 acres of shooting paradise. “The idea was to get families together and keep shooting sports alive,” Brunner said. “If somebody doesn’t do it, it won’t survive long.” For eight years, the facility has been tucked away just off state Route 9 N. in Dawsonville. It is open all year round and has courses for the very beginner to expert ability. “We have two 100-round courses, 50-round courses, trap, live stand and skeet. We have a lot of different disciplines you can do here,” Brunner said. Brunner said he and Becker are passionate about encouraging families to visit the facility. “The idea is to get families together and keep shooting sports alive.” Although limited memberships are available, it is not required. “We are open to the public and will always be open to the public,” Brunner said. Darryl Puckett of Cherokee County said the facil-

ity offers him a place to shoot that he wouldn’t otherwise have. “It’s just fun to come up here and shoot. You get around home and there’s nowhere to shoot. You can’t set up 28 throwers (machines that release

Todd Hoover gets some tips on shooting from Phillip Becker. McKenzie Hamby/Special


clay plates) at home,” Puckett said. Brunner invites shooters of all levels to come to the facility. Even those who have never shot a shotgun before. The staff offers instruction in how to safely operate and shoot the shotguns. “We can get almost anyone to hit a clay target … I’ve only had one guy in eight years I couldn’t get to hit one target.” The facility isn’t just for shooting. Brunner said they have hosted everything from weddings to wakes in its shop and dining area. For Cole, an more 11-year-old labrador, can be informaseen hanging tion, visit around Etowah etowahvalValley Sporting leysportClays. McKenzie ingclays. Hamby/Special com. ■

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The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

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Dawson County

The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

A museum attendee takes a look at one of the many cars in the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame. Melissa Mayton/Staff

What’s new at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame


he Georgia Racing Hall of Fame isn’t just about fast cars. A pioneering woman of motorcycle racing now has brought one of her winningest bikes to Dawsonville.  Tammy Jo Kirk of Dalton delivered her pink, 330-pound, XR750 Harley Davidson to the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame in August. It was designed especially for racing.  “I rode my last race on it Labor Day Weekend in 1989,” she said. “It was the bike I was most successful with.”  She won the Ohio State Championships in 1980, and in 1983 was the first woman to qualify for

By Melissa Mayton, Dawson News & Advertiser

a national race. Kirk also became a member of the 100-mile per hour club. In 1989, Kirk retired from motorcycle racing and moved on to stock cars. She won the Snowball Derby in 1994, the first woman ever to win the race.  From there, Kirk became the first woman to race in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and later on in the Busch Series. She raced her last race in 2003.  Georgia Racing Hall of Fame President Gordon Pirkle said he’s excited about having Kirk’s bike at the museum.  “We want to show the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame is not just stock cars,” Pirkle said. “Maybe

this will start a trend.” But Kirk’s bike isn’t the only thing new at the GRHoF. Two new big-screen televisions have been installed and play racing videos and news. A room available to rent in the connecting city hall has had two large windows installed so onlookers can have an aerial view. Pirkle said he is also excited about a diagnostics simulator that has been installed. Museum attendees can experience what it is like to test an engine before it gets ready to go into a car. Inventory is always changing at the GRHoF. For more information visit ■


The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

Around Back at Rocky's Place The Ultimate Folk Art Gallery in the South!

Hours: Saturday 11 to 5 & Sunday 1 to 5 A group of men traveled from Canada to Atlanta for the Labor Day race weekend. Their travels also brought them to the Hall of Fame. Melissa Mayton/Staff

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the Best Selection by "cornbread" in the universe! From Dawsonville: Take Hwy. 53 toward 400, turn left on Etowah River Rd., 1st driveway on your right. From Dahlonega: Take 400 South, turn right at light on Hwy. 53, go through next light, go 3 miles, turn right on Etowah River Rd., take 1st driveway on your right.

Tammy Jo Kirk’s pink XR750 Harley Davidson. Melissa Mayton/ Staff

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The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

Dawson County

Elliott inks spirited partnership

By Kimberly Boim, Dawson News & Advertiser


Bill Elliott at a Georgia Racing Hall of Fame event. Greg Finan/Staff

ASCAR Sprint Cup champion and 16-time winner of NASCAR’s most popular driver award, Bill Elliott – also known as Awesome Bill from Dawsonville – has partnered with Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery to produce what’s being called the finest white lightning anywhere in the nation.   “I am looking forward to this relationship,” Elliott said. “I hope white lightning will be a staple in everyone’s pantry, now that it’s legal. I am really looking forward to some of the recipes

Located 17 mi. from downtown Dawsonville, 19 mi. west of Dahlonega, and 23 miles from Ellijay on Hwy. 52, Amicalola Falls State Park and Lodge is home to the tallest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi, the southern end of the Appalachian Trail Approach Trail, numerous day hiking trails, The Lodge Hotel, cabins, camping, open and enclosed picnic shelters, The Maple Restaurant, The Visitor’s Center, and two unique gift shops. FMT2014-105504

The Lodge is pleased to announce our first major renovation since opening 1991 featuring 57 completely new Guest Rooms, along with updated Banquet & Meeting Facilities, Lobby Areas & The Maple Restaurant.

Free Georgia Birds of Prey Shows, most Saturdays & Naturalist’s Choice Shows, most Sundays @ 1pm in The Lodge lobby. Friday Night Surf and Turf Buffet for only $16.95 (Crab legs are featured the 1st and last Friday of each month for an additional cost.)

For Information & Reservations Call 706-265-8888 or 800-573-9656. A $5.00 per vehicle park pass is required.

Be sure to fo llow us on for event announcem ents and last minute speci als.

The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

Dawson County

that I know are coming down the stream.”   The partnership didn’t just happen by accident. It was 300 years in the making.  Cheryl “Happy” Wood, proprietor and distiller at the Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery, is the granddaughter of Simmie Free, a famous moonshiner of Northeast Georgia. Simmie learned his craft from his father, Fate Free, who died when he was 109.  “Everybody said it was the liquor that finally killed him,” Wood said.  As far back as the early 1700s, the Free family, pioneers of North Georgia, have been making whiskey. The family produced alcohol legally until 1798, when the government began taxing it, and illegally until recently.  Dawsonville Moonshine is produced in one of the most unique copper still locations in the country: inside the same


Awesome Bill from Dawsonville has partnered with the Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery to produce what’s being called the finest White Lightning in the nation. Bill Elliott is a NASCAR Sprint Cup champion and 16-time winner of the NASCAR’s most popular driver award. Shown, Georgia Racing Hall of Fame President Gordon Pirkle, second from left, is flanked by moonshine makers Ken Martin, Dwight Bearden and Randy Alexander. Kimberly Boim/Staff

building as the City of Dawsonville and Georgia Racing Hall of Fame. Dawsonville has become known as the “Moonshine Capital of the World” for two

reasons. First, looking into U.S. Treasury records, it appears for every moonshine still busted in Tennessee or the Carolinas, there were four busted around Dawsonville. ▶

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The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

Dawson County

Legend has it Burnt Mountain, in the northwestern corner of Dawson County, got its name from the number of times still fires caught the woods around them on fire. Second, moon-runners, known as “trippers,” would brag about their fast cars. Trippers loved to work on their cars. Every screw and bolt that went into building an engine was for one reason: to outrun the law. And, when not running ‘shine, drivers would sometimes race each other. These races drew a crowd, and it was soon realized selling race tickets could make money.  Unregulated contests among “trippers” soon led to stock car racing and later to the organization known as NASCAR – whose roots are firmly planted in the whiskey hauling business and Dawsonville.  Everything comes full circle.  “Be sure to check back often for our White Lightning as well as seasonal recipes coming soon,”

Shown is Bill Elliott’s newest No. 9 car, on display at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame. Melissa Mayton/Staff

Elliott said. “It’s your time to shine.”  Elliott and the Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery are committed to producing the finest hand crafted, small batch spirits made with Georgia grown, non-GMO corn. The process includes making its own malt and distilling in a copper pot still.  “We are one of the few distill-

eries using old family recipes, and we never use neutral grain spirits,” Happy said. Production at the distillery is headed by legendary backwoods distiller Dwight “Punch” Bearden, a fourth-generation moonshiner and hauler. For more information, visit dawsonvillemoonshinedistillery. com. ■



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A horseback rider’s delight: fall in Dawson County


By Kimberly Boim, Dawson News & Advertiser

orse owners have begun loading up rigs and heading to Dawson County for beautiful streams and pristine mountain vistas. “The scenery is just beautiful and the mountains and hills are spectacular,” said Paula Riley, a member of the North American Trail Ride Conference (NATRC) who visits Dawson County as frequently as she can. Riley rides her 20-year-old horse, Swiss Mocha,

a Missouri/fox trotter cross – half quarterhorse and half foxtrotter. “What you see is the quarter horse,” she said, “but what you feel is the fox trotter because she’s so smooth.” Riley said she especially enjoys Fausett Farm Horse Trail in the northwestern part of the county. “There’s a wonderful water crossing, not just a little trickle, but something substantial for your horse to play in,” she said. ▶



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Members of the North American Trail Ride Conference (NATRC) enjoy a shallow water crossing at Fausett Farm horse trails in northwestern Dawson  County. Kimberly Boim/Staff

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Fausett Farm Horse Trail in northwestern Dawson County rewards horses with a refreshing water crossing and riders with spectacular mountain vistas along the way. Kimberly Boim/Staff

Lunch: Mon. - Fri. 11:30 a.m. - 2 p.m. ; Sat. - Sun. 12 p.m. - 3 p.m. Dinner: Mon. - Thurs. 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.; Fri. 5 p.m. - 11 p.m.; Sat. 3 p.m. - 11 p.m. • Sun. 3 p.m. - 10 p.m.


Dawson County

The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

Swiss Mocha and rider Paula Riley rest for a moment near a twoacre pond on Fausett Farm horse trails. Kimberly Boim/Staff

archery and spring turkey hunting days. Horseback And, Riley knows a thing or two about horses riding is not allowed any time the main gate is and competitions. Changes... closed. Swiss Mocha has won 11 national championCountry Antiques to Primitives For more information on horseback riding in ships, and is expecting her 12th this year. In1.sweep2. Put below web site Like us on F (LOGO) Dawsonville Antiques Dawson County, visit stakes wins, she has 20 under her saddle. 3. Phone # correction to 770-883-8846 and ■ NARTC provides long distance, competitive trail rides for all equine breeds and from all disciplines. The organization promotes safety, education and trail horse advocacy through qualified evaluation of horse and rider by veterinary and horsemanship judges in a fun, responsible environment for the whole family, according to Another popular trail riding location in Dawson County is the Dawson Forest Wildlife Management area (WMA). -Primitives At more than 10,000-acres, the WMA is managed by the Georgia Forestry Commission and the -Petroleum-Related “On The Circle” Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Advertising Relics Horseback riding is allowed on designated trails -Vintage Jewelry & only. Riding is not allowed during firearms deer Buy Sell Trade Collectables hunting days and not before 10 a.m. during deer 770-883-8846


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Rabun County Find out more Historic trails 30 Couples retreat 32 Music on the mountain 36 Puppy playground 38

In this photo... Shown, is a view of 12 Spies Vineyards located in Rabun Gap. There are many vineyards in and around Northeast Georgia. For more information about 12 Spies Vineyards, visit For more information about the photographer, visit Marie Nease/ Wingdreamer Photography


Rabun County

The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

A sign indicates the elevation of Dicks Creek Gap and the distance hikers must travel to reach Addis Gap. Mat Payne/Staff

Historic trail runs through Rabun


f the hundreds of miles of trails running through Rabun County that open up the beauty of the back country, few have as much historical significance as the Appalachian Trail. Though it spends only a few brief miles in Rabun County, the Appalachian Trail attracts thousands of people each year to walk through the woods and take in the natural world. Most easily accessed from state Route 76 over the Towns County line at Dicks Creek Gap, there are multiple day hikes to be made in the area for those not wanting to take on the entire trail, stretching from Katahdin, Maine, to Springer Mountain. Bob Gabrielson owns the Top

By MAT PAYNE, The Clayton Tribune

A hiker perches on a rock at Powell Mountain Vista overlooking the lower mountains and Lake Chatuge. Mat Payne/Staff

of Georgia Hostel and Hiking Center, where many hikers stop

and stay the night or where day hikers might begin their walk. As



The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

one of the few people who have hiked the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail, Gabrielson’s knowledge of all things hiking is extensive. And, according to him, some of the most beautiful hiking is right here in the North Georgia mountains. One of Gabrielson’s recommendations for a shorter hike on the trail is to head south from Dicks Creek Gap for about two and a half miles to Powell Mountain Vista, which offers a stunning view of Lake Chatuge. According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the trail first enters Georgia near Hightower Gap, near the North Carolina border and isn’t easily accessible until its intersection with state Route 76. ■


Experience the Unique Flavor of the Mountains... an Authentically Restored Mountain Lodge Enjoy locally grown produce fresh from the earth to your table, creatively prepared by our award-winning Chef. A small portion of the Appalachian Trail leading southbound from Dicks Creek Gap cuts through the forests of Rabun County and Towns County, snaking its way back and forth for the entire length of the border. Mat Payne/Staff

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The White Birch Inn’s Holly Room is one of six uniquely decorated rooms in the downtown Clayton bed and breakfast. Megan Studdard/Staff

Couples retreat to Rabun


abun County offers a relaxing and beautiful place for a romantic getaway. Couples can relish the natural beauty on hundreds of miles of trails in the county. One of more than a dozen local waterfalls provides a picturesque backdrop for mountain adventures. Becky Branch Falls, located just five minutes from Clayton off state Route 76, is a 20-foot cascade. A less than one-mile long footpath brings hikers to a wooden bridge at the base of the falls. Mud Creek Falls in Sky Valley is a 100-foot tall cascade great for non-hikers, as the road leads up to the falls. Two picnic areas allow visitors to share a meal while taking in the view. If wine is more to your taste, lovers can sip samples from any of Rabun County’s three local wineries. Stonewall Creek Vineyards,

By MEGAN STUDDARD, The Clayton Tribune

Stonewall Creek Vineyards is nestled in the mountains of Tiger and features five acres of vines. The vineyard is one of three local wineries in Rabun County. Stonewall Creek Vineyards/Special

owned by Carl and Carla Fackler, is roughly seven miles from Clayton. Carl Fackler said its “quiet and secluded” atmosphere makes Stonewall Creek ideal for visiting

couples. In Rabun Gap, couples will find 12 Spies Vineyard, owned by Mike Brown and Lisa Romanello. “We’ve had several engage- ▶

The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014


Butler Galleries 48 N. Main St.


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Stonewall Creek Vineyards in Tiger offers 48 wine. North Main Street seven varieties of local Couples can taste each at the vineyard’s tasting room on Bridge Creek Road or at the vineyard on Standing Deer Lane. Stonewall Creek Vineyards/Special


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Rabun County

The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

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Red Barn Cafe open on week-ends.

Red Barn Café at Tiger open on week-ends, May to November.

ments already on the property,” Romanello said, adding that strolling along the winery grounds is a nice way to spend a romantic day. Rabun County’s oldest winery is Tiger Mountain Vineyards in Tiger, co-owned by Martha and John Ezzard. Tiger Mountain includes a restaurant open weekends along with its rolling grounds. All three wineries host fall events, starting Oct. 4. Dozens of quaint bed and breakfasts and great restaurants in Rabun County will make a romantic weekend here complete. ■


The natural beauty of Rabun County is a great backdrop for a couple’s getaway. This babbling creek can be found in the Warwoman Dell area. Megan Studdard/Staff

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The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

Rabun County

The Foxfire Boys perform at the Dillard Bluegrass & Barbeque Festival in August. The band continues to actively practice and play together whenever they get the chance. Mat Payne/Staff

Music on the mountain


rowing out of the Foxfire music program in the early 1980s, The Foxfire Boys have long been a regional staple and have spread their unique style of bluegrass across the world for more than three decades. To mandolin player and vocalist Tom Nixon, bluegrass and old-time music could be considered the popular music of Appalachia. “It’s part of the culture and heritage,” Nixon said. “Our parents and grandparents were involved in it.” And Nixon said he hopes the legacy of making music in Rabun County continues as new generations of players come of age and begin developing their talent. Growing from Nixon’s own experiences with the Foxfire music

By MAT PAYNE, The Clayton Tribune

program, the Southern Highland Music Foundation was created to encourage musicians to pursue their passions. Nixon said he hopes the organization will be able to work with the school system to promote the arts. Recent Rabun County High School graduate Scott Streible is far from a bluegrass musician, but said he was inspired by the feeling he got listening to the Foxfire Boys and other local artists. “It’s just really pretty, the harmonies, the melodies and the writing. It’s just growing up in Members of The Foxfire Boys pose for a photo in the mid-1980s, shortly after the band formed. The band was born from the Foxfire music program that attracted many area students. Photo/Submitted

The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

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Big Canoe store opening soon! Members of The Foxfire Boys perform at a party in their early years. The band toured internationally and played in such hallowed venues as the Grand Ole Opry. Photo/Submitted

the South,” Streible said. “Even though we’re small, we have a really strong music community,” he added. As part of a new generation of Rabun performers, Streible said he appreciates the music of the past with an ear toward the future, dreaming up sounds that will ring from the mountain tops like so many musicians before him. ■

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Museum & Heritage Center in the incredible Northeast Georgia Mountains

Over 45 years ago, a group of high school students took a genuine interest in their heritage and worked to preserve their truly unique mountain culture. Visit the physical legacy they created in honor of their friends, neighbors, and families while creating the Foxfire magazines and books—a mountainside collection of authentic and salvaged log cabins gathered to house the tools, the trades, and the memories of Southern Appalachia’s storied past.

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Rabun County

The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

Shanti, a 3-year-old German Shepherd owned by Brandi Paul of Clayton, enjoys the Rabun Bark Park. Megan Studdard/Staff

A place for pups to play

By MEGAN STUDDARD, The Clayton Tribune


abun County is full of natural places for people to roam, but now their four-legged friends have a spot to play. Rabun Bark Park, a free dog park located at the Rabun County Recreation Department off U.S. Highway 441 in Tiger, is a mini-vacation for canines. Thanks to donations from area animal lovers and the repurposing of existing equipment, the park provides ample space for dogs to unleash and socialize with their peers. The park opened in June and has since drawn dogs from across the county, as well as visiting pups. Recreation department Director Roy Quilliams said he got the idea to build a dog park after realizing there was nowhere in the county for dogs to safely roam free. The park is complete with everything a dog needs for a day of fun, including a dog crawl, hoop jump, jump bars, grooming table and water station. Their human counter▶

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The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

Rabun County


The Rabun Bark park contains more than $3,000 worth of agility equipment for visiting canines. Megan Studdard/Staff




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The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

Rabun County

parts are not left out, as a bench allows owners to rest and a mulch path provides easy access to the park. Quilliams said the county provided no money for the park. The donated equipment totals more than $3,000. The park held its grand opening event Aug. 2. The Bacon family, of Clayton, brought their basset hound/Jack Russell mix Fender to the park to play. “We’re so excited. We’ve been looking for a place he can run because he loves all dogs,” Karen Bacon said. “He loves dogs and people, and there’s really no place for him just to socialize.” The park is free to the public and is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. ■

Christopher Fairholt shows off Jack Daniels, an American Blue Heeler mix puppy up for adoption through Paws 4 Life, during the grand opening of Rabun Bark Park Saturday, Aug. 2. Megan Studdard/Staff

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The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014


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Rola, a 2-year-old miniature Pinscher, poses at the Rabun Bark Park grand opening.. Megan Studdard/Staff

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The Dillard House Restaurant and Resort has been family owned and operated since 1917. Our family prides itself on serving only the freshest food cooked daily, using ingredients from local and surrounding area farms.

In addition to our world famous restaurant, we have a wide variety of accommodations • Stables • Petting Zoo • Complimentary Wagon Rides to our Pumpkin Patch every Saturday in October for our guests dining or staying with us and a 10,000-sq-ft. Conference Center for meetings and retreats. Please visit or call 1-800-541-0671 for more information and hours of operation.


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Habersham County Destination

Find out more Zombie Fun Run 44 Fall at the gorge 48 Fall ArtFest 59 Hills of Habersham ride 62

In this photo... Shown, an aerial view of Lake Russell in Habersham County. The Lake Russell Recreation Area offers lake access, hiking trails, campground and picnic sites. For more information about the photographer, visit Marie Nease/Wingdreamer Photography

Zombie Fun Run a scary-good time By CHRISTINA SANTEE, The Northeast Georgian


The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

E. Lane Gresham/Special

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The 2014 Zombie Fun Run is set for Oct. 25 in Clarkesville. Shown left are Riya Woodruff, 14, of Mt. Airy, left, and Ashley Harris, 14, of Demorest, dressed as zombie twins. Both were volunteering on behalf of the Key Club at Habersham Ninth Grade Academy at the inaugural event held last year. E. Lane Gresham/Special

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larkesville will once again darken into a scene from a horror flick when the second annual Zombie Fun Run, presented by Clarkesville Kiwanis, returns just days before Halloween. Walk, creep and crawl your way through a zombieinfested course starting at 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25, at the Old Clarkesville Mill just north of downtown Clarkesville. “We are excited about this year’s event because we are expecting an even better turnout this year,” said Quentin Carr, Clarkesville Kiwanis and Zombie Fun Run committee member. The mission is to complete the distance race to the finish line without having your brains eaten by the walking dead. Runners will have to dodge zombies throughout the course, in an effort to keep all of their survival flags. The first 25 racers to cross the finish line with a survival flag remaining will be awarded a “Survivor’s Cup” to celebrate their achievement. A family zone offering games, pumpkin painting, bounce houses and other fall/Halloween activities will open to participants at 4 p.m. “Kiwanis, as a club, strives to make the community a better place for our children,” Carr said. “With the amount of fun that was had last year, there is no doubt that this a must-attend event for everyone. We saw siblings, parents with their children, and even entire families participate in last year’s event.” The event will support Clarkesville Kiwanis to continue its community service efforts. “The icing on the cake is that the money raised from this event goes right back into the community, in the form of scholarships and other service-oriented ▶


The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

Habersham County

projects to benefit the children here in Habersham County,” Carr said. Registration must be submitted by Wednesday, Oct. 15. Pre-registration must be received before Tuesday, Oct. 14. Early entry fees cost $20, with a short-sleeved T-shirt; and $25, with a long-sleeved T-shirt. Children 10 and under cost $15 to register, with your choice of a short- or longsleeved shirt. Registration forms may be emailed to, or mailed with a check payable to Clarkesville Kiwanis, 256 Paper Lane, Clarkesville, GA 30523. For more information, find Clarkesville Kiwanis or Kiwanis Zombie Fun Run on Facebook, or send an email inquiry to ■

Some 250 runners participated in the first Zombie Fun Run held in 2013. Organizers of the this year’s event are anticipating an even larger turnout for the Clarkesville Kiwanis-sponsored fundraiser. E. Lane Gresham/Special

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A view of fall grandeur from an overlook at Tallulah Gorge State Park. Tanya Smith/Special

The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

Habersham County


Hiking at Tallulah Gorge State Park is breathtaking any time of the year but fall is especially beautiful. Kimberly Brown/Staff

Fall at the gorge promises colorful beauty


By Kimberly Brown, The Northeast Georgian

ith its soaring rock walls cut by the Tallulah River, Tallulah Gorge State Park is a favorite destination to view beautiful fall color. Tallulah Gorge is almost 1,000 feet deep and two miles long. North and south rim trails offer great views at any time of year, but fall is particularly spectacular as colorful leaves decorate the entire gorge. In October 2013, more than 41,467 people visited TGSP, and in November of the same year, 20,245 visited the park, according to TGSP Manager Danny Tatum. “It’s just the beautiful leaf color and the river that brings them,” Tatum said. “On any of the overlooks, you can see all the brilliant colors. It’s a gorgeous time of the year to be up here. It’s really something to see.” Aesthetic water releases, when the dam is opened and the river is allowed to rise, will continue Sept.

27-28, Oct. 1, Oct. 3, Oct. 8, Oct. 10, Oct. 15, Oct. 17 and Oct. 25-26. Kayaking water releases will be held Nov. 1-2, Nov. 8-9 and Nov. 15-16 and boaters will be allowed to test their mettle against class 4 and 5 rapids on the Tallulah River. If it’s timed just right, visitors can see colorful kayaks as well as colorful leaves. “About the first weekend in November, you’ve still got a good leaf color, depending on the temperature,” Tatum said. Fall is a great time to hike to the gorge floor, and 100 hikers per day are issued permits. Permits are not issued when it’s wet or during water release days, Tatum said. If you don’t want to hike to the gorge floor, you can use a total of 1,099 stairs to a suspension bridge swinging 80 feet above the bottom, providing spectacular views of the river and waterfalls. Tightrope walkers have crossed the gorge twice, ▶


The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

Habersham County

and visitors can still see towers used by Karl Wallenda on the north rim side. It remains a possibility Nik Wallenda will attempt to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps in 2015, by staging his own tightrope walk across Tallulah Gorge. An event new to TGSP this year is Jail Tales Trail, to be held 6:30-8:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24. Jail Tales Trail begins with a leisurely walk from the parking area of the Shortline Trail near the old Tallulah Falls jail to a bonfire at the suspension bridge. Eric Martin will play campfire songs at the bonfire while visitors roast marshmallows and make s’mores. A hayride goes back to the old Tallulah Falls jail, where storyteller Mary Gene Cotten will tell tales of old Tallulah Falls and the surrounding area. On Halloween, Friday, Oct. 31, park visitors can participate in Trunk or Treat from 5:30-7:30 p.m. During that time, visitors can decorate their cars and hand out treats to children. Games will be provided for children while cars are being decorated. TGSP also offers hiking in addition to the rim trails and trail into the gorge. Camping, fishing and bicycling are all available at the park. For more information, see ■

Holiday Light Spectacular Cornelia City Park Thanksgiving-New Year’s Day FREE ADMISSION

Fall color is on display throughout Northeast Georgia during the fall months. Shown are pops of color along Tallulah Falls Lake. Kimberly Brown/Staff


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Folk art is one of many mediums represented at the Fall ArtFest 2014. E. Lane Gresham/Special


The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

Fall ArtFest 2014 to again impress By Christina Santee, The Northeast Georgian


all ArtFest 2014, presented by Burnt Burbon Pottery Gallery & Studio and the Tanyard Branch Heritage Center, will make an encore appearance this fall from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25. The annual event will return at Burnt Burbon Pottery Gallery & Studio, 330 Foster St., Cornelia. According to Anne Crocker Christol, volunteer event organizer, the festival will feature interactive kids’ art activities, photography, crafts, food, “pottery and art from nationally – and internationally – known artists.” “At last year’s fall art show, we probably had 3,000-4,000 participants come through,” Christol said. “And we [featured] around 90 potters, artists and photographers. It was huge.” The Fall ArtFest is one of two main events ▶

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The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

scheduled annually in Habersham County, following the Spring ArtFest, held every Mother’s Day weekend in May. Christol said the spring event attracted the participation of “80-something artists, potters and photographers,” which captured the attention of a few thousand attendees. Christol said the Fall ArtFest will be just as impressive, with live entertainment scheduled throughout the day, showcasing the musical talents of Northeast Georgia-based GoatNeck Road and Cleveland-based Hear Now, among others. Wine and beer, offered by Toccoa-based Currahee Vineyard & Winery, will also be made available for purchase. For more information, call 706-499-8067 or send an email inquiry to burntburbonpottery@ ■

E. Lane Gresham/ Special

E. Lane Gresham/Special Roger Corn, shown right, will be one of many regional potters on hand during the upcoming Oct. 25 Fall ArtFest in Cornelia. The event is presented by Burnt Burbon Pottery Gallery & Studio and the Tanyard Branch Heritage Center. E. Lane Gresham/Special



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A wide variety of folk art is available for sale at the Fall ArtFest set for Oct. 25 in Cornelia. Shown is a vendor from a previous festival. E. Lane Gresham/Special


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Hills of Habersham Ride to roll in Oct. 11


By Christina Santee, The Northeast Georgian

he fifth annual Hills of Habersham Ride is set to take off at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 11, from the Ruby C. Fulbright Aquatic Center near Clarkesville. According to Habersham Chamber of Commerce President Judy Taylor, the return event will serve as a fundraiser for the chamber, with a portion of the proceeds to be donated to the Habersham Central High School Biking Team. “The chamber and the Hills of Habersham Bike Ride committee are very excited about this year’s ride,”

Taylor said. Cyclists will have a choice of riding for 23, 44 or 62 miles through scenic Northeast Georgia, featuring numerous SAG stops to keep participants fueled. The professionally-timed ride is limited to 200 cyclists. “In addition to [Georgia] Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle being the grand marshal, several other new things have been added,” Taylor said, including a Kids Fun Ride. The Kids Fun Ride will allow approximately 50 children ages 6-13 to propel forward from 9:30-10:30 a.m., Oct. 11, behind the Ruby C. Fulbright Aquatic ▶

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by and

at all to our babbling


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wildlife and happy sounds Ride with

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Georgia lieutenant Habersham county, GA • October 11, 2014 Governor

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120 Paul Franklin Rd., Clarkesville • $25 to ride • bike helmets required • ages 6-13 • Parents must sign waiver • Ride 9:30-10:30am • Participation meals for all riders

The fifth annual Hills of Habersham ride rolls out at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 11. Shown, riders make ready at the start of the 2013 event. Kimberly Brown/Staff



nOvember 27tH


Cornelia in

local EvEnts

oct. 11 - Big Red apple Festival oct. 11 - Hills of Habersham Bike Ride oct. 25 - 2nd annual clarkesville Zombie Run nov. 27 - christmas in cornelia Dec. 6 - Habersham county christmas Parade Dec. 13 - Downtown clarkesville christmas Dec. 17-21 - Ice skating cornelia city Park

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The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

Habersham County

Center. “Lots of fun things will be going on for the kids including Bike-a-thon or lap trophies for age groups 6-8, 9-12, and 13,” Taylor said. “All kids will get a participation medal.” Door prizes will also be up for grabs. “When participants complete their ride, the entire family can enjoy Cornelia’s Big Red Apple Festival – all going on the same day,” Taylor said. Pre-registration for the main event, open through Sept. 30, costs $35. Day-of registration costs $40. Registration for the kids’ event, dayof and online, costs $25. Onsite registration for both events opens at 8 a.m., Oct. 11. To register online, visit active. com. For more information, call the Habersham Chamber of Commerce at 706-778-4654, visit or send an email inquiry to habchamber@windstream. net. ■

Riders roll into Cornelia for a rest stop during a previous Hills of Habersham ride. E. Lane Gresham/Special

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White County

Find out more Unicoi Wine Festival 68 Horse-drawn carriage tours 72 Sautee Jamboree 76 Unicoi Lodge makeover 82 Hardman House Tours 86

In this photo... A horse-drawn carriage offered by Sautee Express in White County offers a more personalized trip into the mountains. See Page 72 to read more. Photo/Linda Erbele

Unicoi Wine Festival returns to Hardman Farm


Above, patrons at the Unicoi Wine Fest in White County visit representatives of local vineyards to taste the wines and learn about them. David Greear/Special

By Linda Erbele, White County News

n North Georgia, weather prognosticators are dedicated to pinpointing the peak of leaf season. Although that date is uncertain, there’s one event that needs to go on on the calendar. The Unicoi Wine Festival will take place from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1. The affair takes place at the historic Hardman Farm, located at the intersection of state Routes 75 and 17, just two miles south of Helen in White County. All of White County’s wineries will have tasting booths. Admission to the event is $30, which includes a commemorative wine glass and 12 tasting tickets. Additional tickets may be purchased at the Unicoi Wine Market booth, which also offers wine by the bottle and wine-related merchandise.

David Greear/Special

The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

Wineries featured will include The Cottage Vineyard and Winery, Habersham Winery, Sautee Nacoochee Vineyards, Serenity Cellars, Sylvan Valley Cellars and Yonah Mountain Vineyards. Each will feature four of their wines, all of which will be available for purchase at the festival. In addition, local restaurants will offer food and vendors will offer fine arts and hand-crafted merchandise for sale. There will be live music, too. Tours of the historic Hardman Farm and Hardman â–ś

White County


Emily DeFoor, right, pours a taste of Habersham Vineyards wine to a visitor at the 2013 Unicoi Wine Fest. David Greear/Special

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The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

White County

Inside the Hardman house, visitors are treated to a lesson on the architectural style of the 19th-century home. Below, the children’s room in the historic Hardman House looks out over the scenic grounds. File photos

House will be available for $8 throughout the day. The post-Civil War house across the road from the famous Indian Mound is the showplace of the Nacoochee Valley. The house, built in 1869, later became the home of Lamartine Hardman, governor of Georgia from 1927-31. It is now owned by the • Wine & Canvas sessions • Paint Your Own Pottery • Fun Photo Booth

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state. This is the second annual Unicoi Wine Festival. Last year, some 1,200 people attended, so visitors are advised to get tickets early. Parking is free. For more information, visit whitecountychamber. org or call 706-392-8279. ■

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September 18-November 1 44th Annual Oktoberfest

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November 1 Unicoi Wine Festival

December 6 Christmas in the Mountains

Photo by Jack Anthony

For more information on these and other events and activities:


The pastoral views in Sautee Nacoochee are even better from a horse-drawn carriage. Linda Erbele/Staff

White County

The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

See the mountains from a horse-drawn carriage


By Linda Erbele, White County News


all brings lines of cars to the mountains to admire the brilliantly-colored leaves. Taking in those views on a quiet back road in a fringe-top surry beats those carbon dioxideheavy highways by a long shot. The Sautee Express, in the Sautee-Nacoochee Valley in White County, offers a number of carriages and routes, from an Amish hay wagon for groups to covered carriages for from two to six passengers. Scott and Judy Hancock have helped couples mark anniversaries and families celebrate birthdays with

their custom horse-drawn trips. They’ve done corporate wine-andcheese events for 60 people, grand wedding departures and Christmas caroling trips. Sometimes, it’s just a quiet ride down a shady back road to make a life-long memory. “One man celebrated his re- ▶

This velvet lined carriage has just enough room for a couple to sit close and a driver. Linda Erbele/Staff

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Wide variety of craft beers & full bar Menu designed to accommodate all appetites ◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆ Live Music on weekends Daily weekly specials Chef specials on weekends Open for lunch & dinner 7 days a week ◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆ Sports fan dream come true! NFL Sunday Ticket and SEC Network Airing six different games at once! Bigg Daddys 807 Edelweiss Strasse • Helen, Georgia • 706-878-2739

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The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

White County

tirement by taking his wife to a local restaurant. When they came out of the restaurant, she was surprised that we were there to pick them up and take them on a carriage ride after dinner,” said Scott Hancock. Rides can last from two to four hours or longer. “Sometimes when there’s a full moon, we’re out ‘til midnight,” he said “It’s just a different edge.” The business is located across from the Old Sautee Store at the intersection of state Routes 255 and 17. The rides can take place on nearby mountain roads that pass creeks and waterfalls, or at a location specified by the client. For more information, call 706-969-4036 or email awj3@windstream. net. ■

The two-seat surrey is pulled by Diamond, a Tennessee Walker, as it passes a scenic farm in Sautee Nacoochee. Linda Erbele/Staff

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The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014


Alpine Valley Complex Locally Grown Apples Homemade Fried Apple Pies Jams • Jellies • Honey Canned Goods • Boiled Peanuts open daily at 9 a.m.

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Jam out at Sautee Jamboree


By Debbie Gilbert, White County News

utdoor music festivals are a lot more enjoyable when the weather is good. That’s why this year’s Sautee Jamboree is scheduled for noon to midnight Saturday, Oct. 4 – when there’s a high probability for a cool, clear, dry day, perfect for jamming to the music. The festival takes place on the lawn of the Sautee-Nacoochee Center in White County. The setting is relaxed, yet intimate, eliminating the bar-

riers between audience and performers. And when the music ends, you don’t even have to worry about driving home. “We will have free camping available Saturday night,” said DeDe Vogt, programming director for the Sautee Nacoochee Community Association. The option of staying overnight will be welcomed by attendees who’ve traveled a long distance for the event. “People come from all over the Southeast,” ▶

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The Sautee Jamboree provides an intimate setting, allowing the audience to get up close and personal with the musicians.Photo/Submitted

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The Indigo Girls headlined a previous Sautee Jamboree. The event continues to attract extraordinary talent. Shown, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers wow the 2010 crowd. E. Lane Gresham/Special

Next to the Yonah Burger on Hwy. 75, two miles north of Cleveland.



White County

The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

Vogt said. “Each of these bands has its own following.” This year’s lineup includes the AJ Ghent Band (Southern soul/ funk); the John King Band (hot new countryrock group); Caroline Aiken (veteran singer/ acoustic guitarist); Donna Hopkins (energetic singer-songwriter); ContraForce (enthusiastic folk trio); and the Spud Brothers (traditional Appalachian music). “The artists are all very different,” Vogt said. “I want it to be extremely diverse and fun.” Though music is the main focus, the festival also features artist vendors. Food, beer and wine are available for purchase. Admission to the Jamboree is $30 for adults, $20 for students. Kids age 12 and under get in free. For more information, call 706-878-3300. ■ A musician performs at a previous Sautee Jamboree. This year’s event is set for Oct. 4 . Photo/Submitted

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The dining area at Unicoi Lodge’s restaurant has new carpeting, tables, and chairs. The restaurant also features a buffet open on most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Billy Chism/Staff

The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

White County


Unicoi undergoing makeover By Debbie Gilbert, White County News


isitors to Unicoi State Park and Lodge have always enjoyed being in a natural, rustic setting. And that won’t change. But now they’re also enjoying amenities that weren’t available before. Unicoi, located in White County near Helen, has been undergoing a $4 million renovation funded by the North Georgia Mountains Authority, an arm of the state’s Department of Natural Resources. The state owns the

Chris Forbes, general manager at Unicoi, said he is excited about the first phase of renovations that have been completed just in time for guests arriving this fall. Billy Chism/Staff


property, but the facilities are now managed by a contractor, Coral Hospitality. The project is being done in phases, with as little disruption to visitors as possible. All 100 of the lodge’s guest rooms have been refurbished, with new paint, carpeting, furniture, energyefficient windows and 42-inch flat-screen TVs. Similar enhancements will be made to Unicoi State Park’s 30 cabins. And for the Smith Creek cabins – the ones located along the road leading to Anna Ruby Falls – this will be the first time they’ve ever had televisions. Chris Forbes, general manager of the park and lodge, said even though guests come to Unicoi ▶


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White County

The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

The barrel cabins have new furnishings, but the rustic charm remains. Inset, the barrel cabins at Unicoi State Park offer a comfortable place to stay – right in the middle of the woods. Billy Chism/Staff

to “get away from it all,” they indicated they’d still prefer to have television available in the cabins. Also in response to customer feedback, some of the lodge rooms now have larger beds. Previously, all rooms had two double beds. Now, 16 rooms have king-sized beds and 24 have queen-sized.

After the guest rooms were all spruced up, renovation began on the common areas of the lodge. The conference center will be fitted with more energy-efficient lighting, heating and air conditioning. Also, near the conference center’s Masters Hall, old offices have been demolished to create

a much better view of the mountains. “The view was there all along, but most people couldn’t see it,” Forbes said. “Now, it’s as if we’ve brought the outside indoors, and that’s a major improvement.” For more information, call 1-800-573-9659. ■

White County’s only full service bookstore So much more than just used books –– a great shopping destination for gifts for the whole family

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Customer Loyalty Program • Complimentary Coffee Bar Kids’ Summer Reading Program Tie-dye apparel • Handmade walking sticks Local art • Cross-stitched bookmarks Art jewelry and more


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3779 Helen Hwy, Cleveland (located at the green locomotive train) Hours: Mon-Sat 10-4 We accept MasterCard, Visa and Discover

The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

85 The new view from the lobby area of Masters Hall. Billy Chism/Staff

Antiques Collectibles Home Decor

Mountain Laurel Antique Mall 706-865-0575

Old Heidelberg German Restaurant & Pub

Extensive selection of beer Hwy. 129 South • 233 Friendship Road, (4.3 miles south, look for the big yellow building)

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White County

The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

Billy Chism/Staff

Hardman House to open for tours this fall


he Hardman Farm, located on State Route 17 in the Nacoochee Valley in White County, will open to the public this autumn on an interim basis as a Georgia State Parks historic site. The main structure – the two-story Hardman House with its Italianate design – will be open for tours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Thursday through Sunday, beginning Oct. 2. This schedule will continue for six weeks. Beginning Nov. 14, the house will be open Friday through Sunday until sometime in December. Visitors can also stroll the grounds, which include 17 outbuildings. These outbuildings can be viewed only from the outside. Admission is $8 for adults. The house was built in 1869 by Captain James Nichols, who in 1870 built the gazebo atop the Nacoochee Valley Indian Mound, located across the road from the house. Lamartine Hardman, who served as Georgia governor from 1927 to 1931, bought the house in 1903, where it remained in the family until the state acquired the entire farm and Indian Mound property in 2000, as a gift from the family. The house is furnished in the period of the 1920s. ■

LumpkinCounty Destination

Find out more Haunted history 88 Soundtrack of Dahlonega 92 Scenic drives 94 Holly Theatre 98

In this photo... Historic buildings on the campus of the University of North Georgia serve as a backdrop for community events in Dahlongea year-round. John Bynum/Staff

Dahlonega’s haunted history By JOHN BYNUM, The Dahlonega Nugget


owntown Dahlonega is filled with history. And at times that history can be chilling, frightening or just downright spooky. Those looking to explore the town’s haunted past and ghostly present can choose one of a couple of guided tour options, or muster up the courage to explore on their own.

Located in the center of the Public Square, the Dahlonega Gold Museum offers a guided ghost tour around downtown on most Saturdays through early November, beginning at 7 p.m. This year’s tour is something “everyone should be able to enjoy,” said staff member Sarah Holly, and is OK for children with no frightening elements, just scary stories. ▶


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In Dahlonega’s historic Mount Hope Cemetery, which dates back to 1800, it is said that the ghosts of Union and Confederate soldiers can be seen playing poker together. John Bynum/Staff

n’ Gold BBQ i k o Sm Award Winning

A ghostly cook is said to reside in the kitchen at the Park Place Hotel near the square in Dahlonega, moving around pots and pans and making noises. John Bynum/Staff

706-864-RIBS 59 East Main Street, Downtown Dahlonega, GA


Lumpkin County

The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

The Gold Museum’s Nici Angell said the hour-long tour will be led by local author Trisha Slay, who also wrote the new script. Angell added that folks can expect a few characters in costume as part of the tour. For ghost story fans who want a little more ground to cover, Dahlonega Walking Tours offers a guided tour each Friday and Saturday until mid-November, starting at 8 p.m. It lasts about 90 minutes and takes visitors from the Attic Upstairs on the Public Square to Mount Hope Cemetery and back. Host Jeremy Sharp said to prepare for the tour he delved into 2,500 pages of Dahlonega history. “Then I interviewed the merchants around the square and got their stories,” he said. “We talk about the history of the buildings and then the ghost stories.” For a more leisurely stroll around Dahlonega’s haunted locales, the chamber of commerce offers helpful information on many haunted locations on its website. For more information, visit tours-a-scenic-drives-2/ghost-tours. ■ Inside Dahlonega’s Holly Theater, which dates back to the 1940s, spirits have been spotted in the balcony and on stage, giving their ghostly performances. John Bynum/Staff

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Lumpkin County

The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

BlueBilly Grit is a band that exemplifies the blending of traditional music with their own unique sound, a trait dominating the Dahlonega music scene. Greg Finan/Staff

The soundtrack of Dahlonega


By JOHN BYNUM, The Dahlonega Nugget

he hills of Dahlonega are alive with an eclectic mix of music, making this small mountain community a hidden nugget for music lovers. Dahlonega’s music venues radiate a blend of community and intimacy to rival any music mecca. From the Friday night free concerts at Hancock Park to the close confines of The Crimson Moon and beyond, Dahlonega exudes a soundtrack all its own from a variety of venues and musicians that any music aficionado would tap their toes to and enjoy. Local musician Adam Kadmon is very active in the Dahlonega

music community. Kadmon has been a regular host of many of the town’s open mic nights since 2012. He is also one of Dahlonega’s most unique musicians. Kadmon masterfully blends his personal stylings into covers and original songs with a goal to produce music that has many directions, but one focus: being able to blend in almost any style of modern music. “The Dahlonega music scene is very Americana, folk, bluegrass driven at all times,” said Kadmon. “And, it’s always open at any point for experimentation.” BlueBilly Grit, a self-described high energy bluegrass/Americana band, is one of those local

Adam Kadmon’s music is inspired by his mother’s love of old rock favorites and his goal to produce music that has many directions. Greg Finan/Staff

bands that experiment with traditional musical styles, creating its own new sound which combines rockabilly, traditional bluegrass and Americana with bluesy undertones. BlueBilly Grit’s sound captivates

The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

local audiences whenever the band performs. No matter what your musical preference, the soundtrack of

Lumpkin County

Dahlonega is sure to get your head bobbing, your toes tapping and your ears thanking you for all that sweet music. ■

Cool Breeze – the Oar House is a casual fine dining restaurant on the banks of the Chestatee River just minutes from downtown Dahlonega. Cool Breeze provides fine food in a casual setting, sterling service, and an atmosphere that is one of the most relaxing and romantic in North Georgia. Cool Breeze also features a full-service bar and a modestly priced lunch and appetizer menu for more laid-back outside dining. No matter what your dining desires are – casual fine dining in the main restaurant or laidback munching on the deck – Cool Breeze can satisfy you. All food for both venues is prepared on the premises by a superb staff. The Cool Breeze menu features savory entrées and appetizers complemented by deliciously prepared desserts. Weekly specials provide guests with Cool Breeze favorites. Guests of Cool Breeze are able to choose from a wide array of fine wines, beers and spirits. Reservation preferred call at 706-864-9938

3072 Highway 52 East Dahlonega, GA 30533


Cool Breeze and the full service bar are open 7 days a week. Sundays feature an a la carte brunch from 11:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Catering and Special Event services are also provided.


Dahlonega Mayor Gary McCullough joins The Kurt Thomas Band on stage to show off his own vocal stylings. Greg Finan/Staff

Driving Dahlonega: stunning scenery at every turn


By MATT AIKEN, The Dahlonega Nugget

f you’re on the hunt for stunning scenery, there are no wrong turns in the mountains in and around Dahlonega and Lumpkin County. Every bend in the road offers another glimpse of an awe-inspiring vista or two. “We have nice gentle curves and plenty of scenery,” said Laura James of the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber of Commerce. The flow of scenery-seekers usually hits its peak

during leaf season as the hills and valleys of the Appalachians are set ablaze with fall’s own version of a foliage-filled fireworks show. “That’s when we definitely have a lot of leaflookers,” James added. If you’re looking to catch a few breathtaking views, the directions are simple. From the square of Dahlonega head down East Main Street until you reach the stoplight at Mor- ▶

Follow the double-yellow line to a drive filled with head-turning scenery in the backwoods of Dahlonega and Lumpkin County. Matt Aiken/Staff

Heart of Georgia Wine Country

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Matt Aiken/Staff

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13 South Park Street, Dahlonega, GA 30533


Lumpkin County

The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014


rison Moore Parkway and take a left. This road, also named state Route 19/60, leads directly into the Chattahoochee National Forest. A little more than seven miles into the hills, the highway forks at Stone Pile Gap. A slight turn to the left will send you on a rolling, winding drive towards Suches, with Lake Winfield Scott and Lake Dockery as suitable day-visit destinations. A slight turn to the right at Stone Pile, followed by an eventual left turn at Turner’s Corner onto state Route 129, will send any Sunday driver on a dizzying climb up and over Blood Mountain. Along the way there are plenty of potential stop-overs at DeSoto Falls, Dicks Creek and the Appalachian Trail. Scenic overlooks can be found throughout both routes. But when it comes to scenery-searching around Dahlonega, pinpoint directions aren’t really a necessity. Just buckle up and head for the hills. ■ Strap on your safety belt and get ready for stunning views on the mountain roads, shown left, surrounding Dahlonega. Curves are plentiful on the winding roads that snake their way through the Appalachians. But then, that only adds to the fun. Matt Aiken/Staff


Dipping locally grown apples on the Square in Dahlonega


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Holly – community theater at its best By Sharon hall, The Dahlonega Nugget

Reminiscent of the movie palaces of the past, Dahlonega’s Holly Theater now produces quality live theater and concerts. John Bynum/Staff


The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

Lumpkin County

he Holly Theater has a well-earned reputation as a destination experience for those visiting Dahlonega. This fall and winter, that reputation should only grow stronger as the community theater offers a new lineup of show-stoppers. First up is the reunion performance of the ever-popular Mountain Music & Medicine Show (MMMS). A blend of oldtime Southern Appalachian and bluegrass music, humor and skits featuring “Doc” Johnson and his Miracle Medicine Show, MMMS presented two hours of entertainment in a live radio broadcast format for 12 years before signing off the air in 2013. The show earned the Georgia Association of Broadcasters’ Best New Radio Show designation and three GABBY awards for the best locally produced radio show three years running. The all volunteer cast is back Oct. 4 for a one-night appearance. “Macbeth” takes the Holly stage each weekend, Oct. 10-Nov. 11. The Shakespeare classic directed by

The lovingly restored downtown theater serves as a lively hub of local creative energy. Margo Booth/Staff

University of North Georgia English Professor, author and self-described “fully fledged ham” of a “theatre family” Dr. Brian Corrigan promises to please. “White Christmas,” adapted for the stage from the timeless movie classic starring Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney, runs weekends Dec. 5-21. Featuring the songs of Irving Berlin, including the ▶

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Hall County

The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

The marquee of the Holly Theater has been a fixture for visitors to downtown Dahlonega for decades. In keeping with the offbeat theme of their annual adult spelling bee, the Lumpkin Literacy Coalition forgot to run their marquee message through spellcheck. John Bynum/Staff


title song “White Christmas,” it is the perfect break from the holiday rush. Comedy takes center stage weekends Feb. 20-March 8 when “The Nerd” visits the Holly. Author Larry Shue’s play has been dubbed “the gold standard in theatrical belly laughs” by theater critics. Misunderstandings stemming from the main character’s social ineptness lead to some hysterical conversation and situations. Tickets to all shows are available at ■

Self-Serve FroYo Made to Order Fresh Fruit


Super Food Smoothies Beside Starbucks – 120 South Chestatee Street • Dahlonega, GA

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John Bynum/Staff Open 12-9 Tuesday - Saturday • Half day Sunday

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Margo Booth/Staff

Open 12-9 Tuesday - Saturday • Half day Sunday


Hall County

Find out more

North Georgia History Center 98

In this photo... Guests of the Northeast Georgia History Museum are shown crafts of yesteryear during Family Day. Group tours are available. Photo/Submitted

Northeast Georgia History Center brims with exhibits


here can you mine for gold, ride the railroads, talk to a Civil War soldier, and touch a tornado? At the

Northeast Georgia History Center. A 26,000-square-foot facility on the Brenau University Campus, Gainesville, the vibrant, growing and professional institution reaches out to a 13-county

area. The White Path Cabin, the Land of Promise, Mark Trail and Northeast Georgia Pottery exhibits and educational programming make the History Center â–ś

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Join the circle of friends at the Freedom Garden. Photo/Submitted

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Milk • Chocolate Milk • Buttermilk Ice Cream • Butter Fresh Ground Beef & Sausage HOURS: Monday-Saturday 10-6 Sunday 1-6


Visit our store and processing plant at 6615 Cleveland Hwy, Clermont, GA •

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Hall County

The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

A docent tells the story of the The White Path Cabin, located on the grounds of the Northeast Georgia History Center. Photo/Submitted

one of the most complete destinations in the region for learning about the life and times of residents of the past. The NGHC is also home to the American Freedom Garden, which pays tribute to those who preserve the gift of freedom. While the NGHC just celebrated its first decade, part of being a place where history comes alive means organizers look much further back into the past than just 10 years. One of the most popular programs is Family Day, a monthly event with themes as varied as World War II, Mountain Music, The Trail of Tears and even the 1980s. During Family Day, children and parents ▶

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The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

Hall County


Mountain craft demonstrations are part of the experience at the Northeast Georgia History Center. Photo/Submitted


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Hall County

The Mountain Traveler • Fall 2014

are invited to take part in a variety of activities to give them a hands-on experience of what life was like for those who went before. Arms churn butter, feet march with soldiers, fingers learn to weave, noses smell the food over the campfire and mouths learn to speak and sing in ways that help them understand what life was like long ago. Family Day is held from 1-4 p.m. the second Sunday of every month. Regular business hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. NGHC is located at 322 Academy St., Northeast, Gainesville. For more information, call 770-297-5900 or visit ■

We carry

Above, children both young and young at heart will remember the fun they have at NEGA History Center. Right, visit the Freedom Garden during any season and take time to reflect about those who fought for our freedom. Photos/Submitted

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A special thanks to our advertisers... Dawson County Ann Pope Pottery...................................... 19 Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge........ 22 Around Back at Rocky’s Place................. 21 Big D’s BBQ............................................. 19 Blue Bicycle, The...................................... 21 Dawson County Chamber......................... 25 Dawsonville Antiques............................... 28 Dawsonville Gun & Pawn........................ 24 Etowah Valley Sporting Clays.................. 25 Friends American Grill............................. 25 John Megel Chevrolet............................... 56 Kani House................................................ 27 North Georgia Vein Institute..................... 23 Wild Birds Unlimited................................ 27 Rabun County Black Bear Creek Antiques....................... 31 Butler Galleries......................................... 33 Candy Store, The...................................... 39 Dairy Queen.............................................. 42 Dillard House............................................ 42 Dillard Tourism......................................... 35 Days Inn.................................................... 40 Fireplace & Grill Shop, The...................... 38 Foxfire................................................. 33, 37 Highlands Aerial Park................................. 8 Hillside Orchard Farms............................. 42 La Pachanga.............................................. 38 Lake Rabun Hotel & Restaurant............... 31 Lakemont Gallery..................................... 34 Lazy Bear Furniture.................................. 37 Mama G’s.................................................. 34 Mishima.................................................... 34 Mountain Aire Cottages & Inn.................. 41 Prater’s Main Street Books....................... 34 Rabun ABC Package................................. 39 Rabun County Convention & Visitors’ Bureau........................................ 41 Rabun River Cabins.................................. 37 River Vista Mountain Village RV Resort.. 35 Smitty’s Spirits.......................................... 42

Tiger Mountain Vineyards........................ 34 Universal Joint.......................................... 40 Wild Bill’s Army/Navy Store.................... 35 Habersham County Art-Full Barn, The.................................... 47 Attic Restaurant, The................................ 52 Bead Garden, A......................................... 59 Blackhawk Fly Fishing............................. 52 Bumbleberry Yarn and Gifts..................... 65 Carr & Kiker Law Offices......................... 53 Carolyn’s Fine Jewelry............................. 50 Clarkesville Mainstreet............................. 65 Copperpot, The......................................... 52 Cornelia Mainstreet................................... 50 Country Boy Sports.................................. 65 David & Katie’s........................................ 59 Diamond Jewelry & Loan......................... 45 Erin London.............................................. 52 Elizabeth & Company............................... 63 Glen-Ella Springs Inn............................... 47 GMS Oldcastle.......................................... 50 Grant Street Music Room......................... 51 Habersham Chamber of Commerce.......... 63 Hawg Wild BBQ....................................... 53 Hayes Automotive....................................... 2 Hillbilly Hog BBQ Throwdown............... 64 Homestead House..................................... 53 Ivy Mountain Distillery............................. 51 James Short Tractors & Equipment.......... 47 K&K Cleaning & Restoration Services.... 64 Liberty Car Wash Express................... 53, 60 Mountain Gallery Art & Restoration........ 52 North Georgia Floors & Restoration......... 53 Orchard Valley Signs................................ 47 Pet Shop, The............................................ 52 Piedmont College...................................... 51 Pratt Realty Associates.............................. 63 Roots N’ Remedies............................. 52, 59 Scenic 197................................................. 61 Soque River Ramble................................. 52 Southern Bank & Trust............................. 53

A special thanks to our advertisers... State Farm/Matt Mixon............................. 53 Stew & Que............................................... 61 Trackrock Campground & Cabins............ 46 Walmart..................................................... 62 Woods Furniture.................................. 53, 65 White County Alpine Valley Complex............................. 75 Babyland General...................................... 85 Best Western Plus/Super 8........................ 74 Betty’s Country Store................................ 75 Big Daddys Restaurant & Tavern............. 73 Cafe Cancun.............................................. 77 Castle Inn, The.......................................... 73 Country Bake Shoppe............................... 66 Fancy Doodle Art & Wine House............. 70 Gabby’s Country Cabins........................... 70 Gold ‘N Gem Grubbin’............................. 66 Gourd Place, The...................................... 81 Gray Fox Farms........................................ 78 Hansel & Gretel Candy Kitchen............... 81 Helen White County Convention............ 112 Helendorf River Inn Suits & Conference Center........................................................ 79 Hofer’s of Helen....................................... 79 Jacky Jones Ford....................................... 69 JW Reeds Casual Dining.......................... 84 Lindenhaus Imports.................................. 78 Mt. Yonah Book Exchange....................... 84 Mountain Travel Farm.............................. 80 Mountain Laurel Antique Mall................. 85 Mountain Valley Community Bank.......... 80 Mully’s Nacoochee Grill........................... 85 Nora Mill Granary..................................... 80 Old Heidelberg Restaurant & Pub............ 85 Old Sautee Store/Old Sautee Market........ 83 Sautee Nachoochee Center....................... 79 Southern Charm........................................ 80 Southern Comfort Quilts........................... 80 Tim’s Wooden Toys.................................. 79 Unicoi State Park & Lodge....................... 66 Village Tavern & Pizzeria......................... 83

Western Sizzlin/Quincy’s.......................... 81 White County Chamber of Commerce..... 71 Willows Pottery, The................................. 81 Yonah Mtn. Treasures............................... 77 Lumpkin County Cavender Creek Cabins............................. 91 Consolidated Gold Mine........................... 97 Cool Breeze............................................... 93 Dahlonega Chamber of Commerce........... 95 Fudge Factory, The................................... 97 Giggle Monkey Toys................................. 89 Gold Shop, The......................................... 93 Gustavo’s Pizzeria..................................... 99 Outlaw Jerky & Trail Grub....................... 91 Paul Thomas Chocolates........................... 90 Smith House, The...................................... 89 Smokin’ Gold BBQ................................... 89 SpoonShine............................................. 100 State Farm/Donna Minnich....................... 90 Tomato House........................................... 99 Totally Running & Walking...................... 91 University of North Georgia..................... 97 Hall County City of Gainesville.................................. 103 Clermont Trading Co.............................. 104 Eagle Ranch................................................ 2 Gainesville Jewelry................................. 107 Greene Ford............................................ 107 Lakeshore Mall....................................... 108 Lanier Technical College............................ 4 Milton Martin Toyota.............................. 105 Mountain Fresh Creamery...................... 103 Mr. Edd’s Pizza Plus............................... 106 Outdoor Depot, The................................ 106 Rucksack................................................. 103 Scott’s Downtown................................... 107 The Loft at Scott’s................................... 107 Westminster, SC Dickson Tractor........................................... 8

Proudly serving our communities in Northeast Georgia The Clayton Tribune

The Dahlonega Nugget

Dawson News & Advertiser

The Northeast Georgian





White County News 706-865-4718

The Mountain Traveler is a publication of these newspapers, which form the Northeast Georgia Region of Community Newspapers, Inc.

Fall Mountain Traveler 2014  
Fall Mountain Traveler 2014