SCENIC DRIVING TOURS

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1. Start Drive

2. Deep Gap Trailhead

3. Toccoa River Rapids

4. Fall Branch Falls

5. Shallowford Bridge

6. Toccoa Valley Campground

7. Newport Road – turn left

8. Old Dial Farmsteads

9. 60 turn left

10. Swinging Bridge

11. Serenberry Vineyards

12. Lake Blue Ridge Dam

Start your drive at the intersection of Hwy. 515 and Hwy. 5 in Blue Ridge (McDonalds on corner):

0.7 Miles turn right at Windy Ridge Conoco.
0.8 Turn left at stop sign at Pizza Hut (Old 76)
0.9 Make a quick right on Aska Road. (your mileage may vary a little, depending on your tire size and odometer accuracy. Set your odometer to zero when you turn onto Aska Road)

0.0 Aska Road. Turn right on Aska Road. On the right is Harmony Church, one of many pretty country churches throughout the county. N 34°52.322′  W084°18.465′

1.0 Weaver Creek Road (also known as Hog Gut Road because of its many twists and turns.) A side trip of 3.8 miles takes you through a narrow mountain farm valley with old churches, farms and one of the old dairies, Campbell Farm.

2.0 Dry Branch/Lake Blue Ridge Recreation Area. For a nice view of Lake Blue Ridge, turn left on Dry Branch and follow less than one mile to a Forest Service recreation area.

3.0 Snake Nation Road. Named by Cherokee Indians prior to the Trail of Tears in 1835-36, Snake Nation winds through a pastoral valley, ending near Camp Morganton.

4.2 Deep Gap Aska Trails. Here you reach the top of Deep Gap, over 2,200 feet, and look toward Springer Mountain, where the world famous Appalachian Trail begins in Fannin County. At .2 miles on the right is a trailhead for the Deep Gap portion of the Aska Trails. Another trailhead is located .4 miles from Deep Gap on Shady Falls Road. Trails range from 1 to 5.5 miles. Open all year. N 34°49.121′  W084°18.095

7.1 Toccoa River Rapids Here’s a great place to get a good look at the Toccoa River, one of Georgia’s most pristine trout streams. This is popular spot to view the rapids. The Toccoa is a favorite trout stream for serious fly fishermen. It flows northward into Tennessee, where it becomes the Ocoee River, site of the 1996 Olympic whitewater kayak competition. N 34°47.451′   W084°16.564′

8.0 Stanley Creek Road. On the right is the entrance to the Rich Mountain Wildlife Management Area. Stanley Creek Road ends in Gilmer County at Cherry Log (Rock Creek Road). For a short hike to Fall Branch Falls, follow Stanley Creek to the trailhead about three miles on the right (.2 miles from where pavement ends). The trailhead is marked with the Benton MacKaye white diamond. Hike in is ¼ mile up to the base of the falls, following the white diamonds. N 34°47.017′   W084°18.166′

8.3 Shallowford Bridge On the left is the historic Shallowford Bridge. You may want to stop and look at this old one-lane bridge, built in 1920 and one of the last remaining of its kind. N 34°47.029′   W084°15.562′

10.7 Big Creek Road. This road leads to Gilmer County through part of the Rich Mountain Area.

11.3 Toccoa Valley Campground  On the left is Toccoa  Valley Campground, a good place to camp or rent a canoe, funyak or tube. This is the beginning of the Dial community, the oldest community in Fannin County since Cherokee days, settled in 1834. N 34°45.804′   W084°14.983′

12.9 Newport Road Turn left at the stop  sign. N 34°45.282′   W084°13.476′

13.3 VanZandt House. To your left, in the valley is the original VanZandt house, home of one of the pioneer families of the area. The house, one of three in the area dating back to the 19th century, is the oldest in Fannin County. The log cabin within its walls was built in 1834.

13.6 Dial Road Turn right at the stop sign. N 34°45.637′   W084°13.027′

13.7 Cochran-Davenport House. (left) Built in 1885 by George Cochran for his bride, Elizabeth VanZandt, the house was known as the “fancy” house in the valley and boasts Victorian gingerbread detailing, as well as a separate entrance to the formal parlor. All the outbuildings for this small farmstead remain intact, including an interesting spring house on the right. Old Dial Bridge – Cherokee Fish On the right is the Old Dial Bridge over the Toccoa River. There is a Cherokee Indian fish trap, visible as a distinct “V” in the river on the east side of the bridge. For the next mile, the beautiful Toccoa River will be on the right.

15.0 Chastain House On the left is a house built by Jason Chastain in 1865, after acquiring the land in the Cherokee Land lottery. The boxwoods in front of the house were planted over 100 years ago by his wife Mary, who brought them here from North Carolina. N 34°45.661′   W084°11.733′

16.1 GA Highway 60 Dial Road intersects with GA Highway 60, one of the most scenic routes in the Georgia mountains. To the left is the return trip to Morganton (11.5 miles). To the right is the route to Suches and Dahlonega. For a detour to see the Old Skeenah Mill and Swinging Bridge over the Toccoa River, turn right. N 34°46.270′  W084°11.092′

16.8 Old Skeenah Mill. On the left is the Skeenah Creek Campground. The Old Skeenah Mill was built in 1848 by Willis Woody, who brought his family to the Skeenah Valley (named after the Cherokee word for “black bear”) in 1839. The Mill is listed on the National Register. A water-powered sawmill was also located on the creek. The Skeenah Mill was once a popular place for neighbors to gather and chat as they waited for their wheat or corn to be ground. N 34°46.196′   W084°10.353′

17.5 The Swinging Bridge (optional side trip) At .7 miles on the right past the Old Skeenah Mill is the dirt road (3 bumpy, rough miles on FS 816) to the Swinging Bridge over the Toccoa River. The bridge is a 260-foot suspension bridge built by the US Forest Service. Park at the berm and hike in to the bridge in about five minutes on the Benton MacKaye/Duncan Ridge National Recreation Trail. As you leave the Swinging Bridge, turn left on Highway 60 for approximately 7.5 miles for a side visit to Serenberry Vineyards, or 11.5 miles to Morganton.  N 34°44.350′   W084°10.213′

(Directions from Blue Ridge): from the intersection of Hwy 515 and Hwy 5 (McDonalds) in Blue Ridge, follow Hwy 515 East approximately 4 miles to the traffic light at Hwy 60. Turn right and go to the stop sign; then turn left on Hwy 60.  Go 1.5 miles into Morganton, then turn right on Hwy 60 South toward Dahlonega for 11.3 miles passing Skeenah Mill.

20.8 Serenberry Vineyards (optional side trip) On the right is Tipton Trail; drive 2,000 feet to this third generation family farm. The 1920s barn now stands as a Tasting Room for the vineyards and farm winery. Open Thursday – Sunday in season. 706-623-8463

25.0 Morganton Turn left on Hwy 60 North. To visit Morgan- ton Point Recreation Area on Lake Blue Ridge, picnic area, swimming beach, bathrooms ($5 fee area) go 1/10 of a mile and follow the left fork to Lake Drive for ½ mile. Otherwise bear right and follow Old Hwy. 76 to the Lake Blue Ridge dam.

27.5 Blue Ridge Lake & Dam Lake Blue Ridge Dam is one of the largest earth dams in North America, built in 1930. Lake Blue Ridge has 100 miles of shoreline, 80% of which is National Forest land. See the info kiosk at the turn-off on the dam. Follow Old Highway 76 back to Aska Road/Blue Ridge.

A Word to the Wise … Do not try to drive on any rough forest dirt road in low clearance cars! The law of the forest is “leave no trace.” Please pack in all you will need and pack out all your trash. If you build a fire, never leave it unattended. Use good judgment when hiking, particularly around waterfalls where rocks are often wet, moss covered and slippery. If hiking during hunting season, wear a brightly colored vest.

1. Start Drive

2. Mercier Orchard

3. McKinney Crossing

4. Mt. Moriah Baptist Church

5. Watson’s Store

6. Watson Gap

7. Dyer Gap

8. South Fork Trail

9. Jacks River Fields

10. Mountaintown Creek Trail

11. Three Forks Mountain

12. Mountaintown Creek Overlook

13. Betty Gap

14. Chestnut Lead Trail

15. Betty Gap

16. Lake Conasauga Rec. Area

A Word to the Wise These roads may be closed, so before you depart call the USFS at 706-695-6736 for latest road conditions.

 

See the USFS web site at www.fs.fed.us/conf/. The law of the forest is “leave no trace.” Please pack in all you will need and pack out all your trash. If you build a fire, never leave it unattended. Use good judgment when hiking, particularly around waterfalls where rocks are often wet, moss covered and slippery.

In Fannin County the Cohuttas rise in the west and the Blue Ridge to the south and east. The Cherokee Indians consid- ered the Cohuttas to be the “poles of the shed,” holding up the sky in this, their “Enchanted Land.” Although there were no Cherokee villages within the Cohutta wilderness, Chero- kees hunted the area extensively and played their own version of field hockey on the ballfields at Little Bald Mountain, today’s group camping area. The Cohutta Wildlife Manage- ment Area (WMA) encompasses 95,000 acres, 40,000 of which are within Fannin County.  The Cohutta Wilderness is the largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi River, a rare and beautiful place seen by few people. The area is inhab- ited by black bears and wild boars, along with smaller animals like bobcats, coons and squirrels.  The changing seasons bring blooms to rhododendron, mountain laurel and a profusion of wildflowers.  This is a 3 hour trip through the forest without stops, but you will want to stop and enjoy the view, take a hike and picnic at beautiful Lake Conasauga.

Your vehicle needs to be in good mechanical condition with adequate fuel. Low clearance cars are generally a bad idea on these rough roads. Get a USFS Chattahoochee Forest and Cohutta Wilderness map. You may want to carry some food and drink.  You will average only about 15 to 20 miles per hour on the steeper or more winding gravel Forest Service Roads. You will start from the intersection of GA Hwy 5 and the Appalachian Hwy (515) at McDonald’s and will return to the same spot.  Set your odometer to zero.

1.5 On the left is Mercier Orchards, a 300-acre orchard which produces 25 varieties of apples, as well as sweet cherries, strawberries, blueberries, peaches and farm wines. It is Southern Living Magazine’s “favorite apple orchard,” and has the best fried apple pies in the south, guaranteed.

3.8 Turn left onto S.R. 2.

6.9 McKinney Crossing on Fightingtown Creek. Old house on the left is well over 100 years old. Notice the old stacked stone chimney.  The McKinney family ran a grist mill and had a general store across the street. Early settlements or “hollers” typically had a church, small store, school, one or more family homesteads and a post office attached to a residence. N 34°53.768′    W084°24.843′

7.8 On the left is the Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, one of  over 100 small churches which served isolated congregations in rural settlements throughout the area. The church has been operating since 1858, but the current building was built in the 1970’s.

9.7 Watson’s Store on the left, is typical of the hundreds of small general merchandise stores scattered throughout the area to serve small farming communities. A store has been on this site for 150 years. N 34°53.824′    W084°27.291′

12.7 End of pavement – Begin mountain upgrade and gravel roads. From now on, you will have hardwood forest on both sides of the road. The most common species are black, red and white oaks, hickory, poplar, ash, sourwood and dogwood. Ahead, (13.2 miles) notice the sheer rock outcrop on the right, showing the composition of the mountains.  The rocks of north Georgia are some of the oldest in the world, being estimated as between 680 and 800 million years old. N 34°53.804′    W084°30.070′

14.0 Watson Gap altitude 2,700 feet. Here the road divides, left to Lake Conasauga, right to the Ocoee River in Tennessee. Take U.S. Forest Service Road 64 toward Conasauga. N 34°54.412′    W084°30.742′

17.2 Dyer Gap altitude 2,840. The Dyer family was a pioneer family before the area became a national forest, and they still maintain the family cemetery.  Keep right at the intersection at Dyer Gap. Ahead, the diamond blaze marks identify a portion of the Benton MacKaye Trail. N 34°52.176′ W084°30.868′

17.9 South Fork Trail is on your right, a 3 mile USFS Hiking Trail north to Watson Gap.

18.0 Jacks River Fields is on your left, marking the headwa- ters of the Jacks River, one of the most pristine trout streams in the Georgia mountains. Facilities include picnic tables, fee camping, and a horse park for trailers in this pretty spot. N 34°51.813′    W084°31.208′

19.8 Mountaintown Creek Trail a 5.6 mile trail south to Hills Lake Road. N 34°52.273′    W084°32.363′

22.4 Three Forks Mountain On this mountaintop, you will find a Forest Service bulletin board, parking area and the East Cowpen Trail, a 7 mile hike along an abandoned roadbed, the former route of Old Hwy 2. Continue your drive left on USFS 64 toward Lake Conasauga. N 34°52.877′   W084°33.945′

23 Mountaintown Creek Overlook, altitude 3,484, offers a spectacular view. N 34°52.387′    W084°33.994′

25.2 Betty Gap This trailhead for the Conasauga River Trail was named for a widow who sold meals and lodging to travelers. Many visitors to the Cohuttas are unaware that the area was heavily logged between 1915 and 1930. The Conasauga River Trail is a 13 mile easy to moderate trail which follows the Conasauga River, also one of the most beautiful rivers in the mountains. (Take care while hiking the trail, 38 river fords on the trail.) N 34°51.294′ W084°34.853′

26.6 Junction – Continue straight ahead to Lake Conasauga. N 34°50.495′    W084°35.656′

28.6 Chestnut Lead Trail a 1.8 mile easy-moderate trail, is on the right. Look for spring wildflowers and old-growth hemlocks.  N 34°51.261′    W084°36.906′

30.1 Ballfield Group Camping Area once the playing field for the Cherokee Indians in their own version of “field hockey.”

31 Lake Conasauga Recreation Area Beautiful area for camping, picnics, short hikes & swimming. Lake Conasauga, the highest lake in Georgia. N 34°51.649′ W084°36.157′

Return to Civilization – Restart your odometer to zero and leave the recreation area the same way you entered.

4.3       Turn right on USFS 68

5.8       Vista Point:  A magnificent panoramic view

6.5       Barnes Creek Falls (Recreation Area)

7.6       Take the left fork at Holly Creek Gap, USFS 90

8.3       Leaving the Cohutta Wildlife Management Area

9.2       Begin pavement

14.6     Dead end; turn left onto GA Hwy 52 to Ellijay

19.7     Ellijay Square; continue on Hwy 52

30.7     Intersection with Appalachian Hwy 515; turn left

36.9     Original starting point

1. Start Drive

2. Serenberry Vineyards

3. Wilscot Gap

4. Old Skeenah Mill

5. The Swinging Bridge

6. The Fish Hatchery

7. Deep Hole Rec. Area

8. Coopers Creek Rec. Area

9. Suches

10. Woody Lake

11. Woody Gap Vista

12. Chestatee Overlook

13. Jake & Bull Mountain

14. Amicalola Falls State Park

15. Burt’s Farm

16. Apple Orchard Alley

 

This day trip, originally produced by the U.S. Forest Service, is beautiful any time of year, but is especially beautiful in the fall. The drive begins and ends at the intersection of Georgia Highway 5 and 515 in Blue Ridge. Round trip mileage is

102.4 miles and approximate driving time without stops is three to four hours.

The drive offers some great opportunities for stops and side trips and can easily become a day trip.

The Chattahoochee National Forest covers 749,550 acres in North Georgia, managed by five ranger districts. The Blue Ridge Ranger District consists of 147,017 acres of forested public lands in parts of five counties (Fannin, Gilmer, Union, Lumpkin and Dawson) in north Georgia. For more info, call the Blue Ridge Ranger District at (706) 745-6928.

 

0.0 (0.0) Start your drive at the intersection of Hwy. 515 and Hwy. 5 in Blue Ridge (McDonalds on corner). Begin your trip by going east on Highway 515 toward Blairsville.

4.0 (4.0) Turn right on Georgia Highway 60 toward the little town of Morganton. N 34°52.525′  W084°14.536′

4.5 (.5) Turn left at stop sign on GA Hwy  60.

6.0 (1.5) Turn right on GA Hwy 60 toward  Dahlonega.

10.2 (4.2) (optional side trip) Serenberry  Vineyards.

13.5 (3.3) Wilscot Gap The Benton MacKaye Trail (BMT) crosses here. It is pronounced “mack-eye”. The trail in Georgia stretches 78.6 miles from Springer Mountain to Double Spring Gap on the Tennessee border. N 34°48.500′   W084°11.272′

17.2 (3.7) Old Skeenah Mill On the left is the Skeenah  Creek Campground. The Old Skeenah Mill was built in 1848 by Willis Woody, who brought his family to the Skeenah Valley in 1839.  The Mill is listed on the National Register for Historic Places. A water-powered sawmill was also located on the creek. The Skeenah Mill was once a popular place for neighbors to gather and chat as they waited for their wheat or corn to be ground. N 34°46.196′   W084°10.353′

17.9 (.7) The Swinging Bridge. On the right is Forest Service Road 816, and the second crossing of the Benton MacKaye Trail. A side trip of 3 bumpy miles will lead to a 260’ suspension bridge over the Toccoa River. Park at the berm and walk in ¼ mile to the bridge. This is a beautiful area with huge old growth hemlocks. N 34°44.350′ W084°10.213′

20.5 (2.6) Chattahoochee National Fish Hatchery. Forest Service Road 69 on the right will take you to the Chatta- hoochee National Fish Hatchery and Frank Gross Camp- ground on Rock Creek. The fish hatchery raises a million rainbow trout each year to stock the streams and lakes of north Georgia. Visitors can tour the hatchery and visitor center (M-F call 706-838-4723 for hours), and also picnic, hike, camp or fish. N 34°42.382′  W084°08.969′

20.8 (.3) Deep Hole Recreation Area On the right is the entrance to Deep Hole Recreation area on the Toccoa River. Deep Hole is a year-round campground with six picnic sites and a canoe launch. It is the beginning of the Toccoa River Canoe Trail, a nationally designated river trail.

N 34°44.574′   W084°08.345′

21.5 (.7) Cooper Creek Road. A six-mile trip on Cooper Creek Road takes you to two National Forest campgrounds, hiking trails & access to Cooper Creek, a popular trout stream.

Suches. You are now entering Suches, which is the highest “community” in the state called “the Valley Above the Clouds.” Elevation in “downtown” Suches is 3,000 feet, according to Bill’s Guide to Suches. The area is a popular route for motorcyclists, who stop at TWO (Two Wheels Only) near Highway 180, also called Wolf Pen Gap Road. Wolf Pen Gap is known as the “winding-est” road in the state, accord- ing to Bill’s Guide.

32.8 (11.3) Woody Lake On the left is Woody Lake and just above the lake is the house of Arthur Woody, the “Barefoot Forest Ranger.” He was the first forest ranger of the Toccoa Ranger District and is recognized for preserving the land and revitalizing  the area’s deer and trout population. N 34°41.115′   W084°01.182′

34.5 (1.7) Woody Gap Vista. The Appalachian Trail crosses Highway 60 at Woody Gap.

36.1 (1.6) Chestatee Overlook The overlook is on the left. For the next 11 miles the road will twist and turn as you approach Dahlonega, with stunning views along the way. N 34°39.887′   W083°58.939′

47.2 (11.1) Dahlonega, GA Dahlonega was the site of the first major gold rush in the U.S. in 1828. Be sure to stop at the Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site in middle of the downtown area. You might even take time to pan for gold at the Consolidated or Crisson Gold Mine. N 34°31.959′   W083°59.087′

48.7 (1.5) Stay on Highway 52 west Highway 60 turns left toward Gainesville. N 34°31.214′   W084°02.734′

53.0 (4.3) Turn right on Highway 52  west.

7.7 (4.7) Jake and Bull Mountain Horse and Bicycle Trails. Turn onto Nimblewill Church Road to access these horse and bicycle trails.

67.1 (9.4) Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge   The 729-foot waterfall is the highest in the Southeast. Visitors can also hike in to the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. The park includes cottages, a lodge and restaurant. N 34°33.263′   W084°15.027′

Burt’s Farm On the left, near the turn off to Amicalola Falls is Burt’s Farm, open seasonally for the fall pumpkin harvest, hayrides and more. N 34°33.076′   W084°15.420′

68.6 (1.5) Apple Orchard Alley. Intersection of Highway 52 and 183. Turn right to continue on Highway 52 west. The section ahead is known as Apple Orchard Alley. You will have the opportunity to stop at orchards as you travel toward Ellijay.

91.4 (22.8) Ellijay, GA.  Ellijay is known as the “Apple  Capital of Georgia.” Thousands of people come each year to attend the Apple Festival in October. To visit Olde Downtown Square in Ellijay, turn left. To return to Blue Ridge (11 miles), turn right.

A Word to the Wise … The law of the forest is “leave no trace.” Please pack in all you will need and pack out all your trash. If you build a fire, never leave it unattended. Use good judgment when hiking, particularly around waterfalls where rocks are often wet, moss covered and slippery. If hiking during hunting season, wear a brightly colored vest.

1. Blue Ridge

2. McKinney Crossing / Higdon

3. Hell’s Holler, Devil’s Den, and Cashes Valley

4. Epworth

5.McCaysville

6. The Copper Basin

7. Mineral Bluff

8. Morganton

9. Skeenah Valley

10. Dial Valley

11. Stanley Creek

Fannin County

Fannin County was founded in 1854 from lands in Gilmer and Union Counties. The county was named for Col. James Walker Fannin, who fought for the independence of Texas and was killed in the Goliad Massacre after the fall of the Alamo.

Prior to that time, the land belonged to the Cherokee Indians. The fate of the Cherokee in North Georgia was sealed when gold was discovered in Dahlonega in 1829. Georgia’s gold rush created more problems between the settlers and the Indians, and in 1830 The U.S. Congress passed the Chero- kee Removal Act, which ultimately resulted in the tragic “Trail of Tears.” In 1860, the first Fannin County census counted 900 families or 5,139 residents. When the Civil War began in 1861, most residents were small subsistence farmers, who had little interest in the slave issue and had mixed loyalties, some for the south, some for the north.

Rural Communities and  Settlements

Some of the most unique and fascinating features of Fannin County are its historic rural communities and settlements. These “hollers” or coves are often in isolated and remote areas surrounded by mountains and nestled along the banks of a picturesque stream or river.

1. Blue Ridge The town of Blue Ridge was established soon after the arrival of the Marietta and North Georgia Railroad in 1886. Blue Ridge has an elevation of 1,751 feet and was at one time the highest railroad point in Georgia. In 1890, the population of Blue Ridge was only 264, but it grew to 1,184 by 1900. In 1895, the county seat was moved from Morganton to Blue Ridge. Blue Ridge flourished and many businesses were established, including a carriage shop, railway repair and maintenance shops and the Blue Ridge Inn. According to early sources, “Blue Ridge’s climate was conducive to tourists. Many rode the passenger train into town to spend holidays and vacations.” An advertisement in 1939 in “Bullet and Creel” magazine called Blue Ridge “The Switzerland of the South.”

2. McKinney Crossing/Higdon on Fightingtown Creek Located about 3 miles out Highway 2, McKinney Crossing is typical of an early settlement, which would have included a church, small store, post office, possibly a school and several family homesteads. The old house is well over 100 years old, with a stacked stone chimney. The McKinney family ran a grist mill and had a general store across the street.

3. Hell’s  Holler, Devil’s  Den and Cashes Valley Other rural communities in this part of the county include Hell’s Holler, named for it’s rowdy reputation and because moonshine was made there. Devil’s Den, nearby, was also a lawless and notorious section of Fannin County. Today, you’re more likely to find a horse stable than a moonshine still in Cashes Valley. Be sure and go horseback riding at Adventure Trail Rides, Blanche Manor or Blue Ridge Mountain Trail Rides.

4. Epworth The town of Epworth has been known by several names. It was first called Fightingtown by the Cherokee Indians, and later called Camp Ground, because of the camp meetings held there prior to 1900. In 1897, a post office was estab- lished called Atalla, and for four years it took that name. In 1901, both the post office and the town’s name changed to Epworth, after Epworth, England, birthplace of the founders of Methodism, Charles and John Wesley.

5. McCaysville McCaysville, chartered in 1904, is located on the Georgia- Tennessee state line adjacent to Copperhill, Tennessee, its twin city. You can actually have one foot in Georgia and one foot in Tennessee when you cross the Blue Line marking the place where the states meet. Toccoa Avenue (Georgia) turns into Ocoee Street (Tennessee) while the Toccoa River becomes the Ocoee River under an old iron bridge built in 1911 and still standing. Actually, Copperhill was originally called McCays and McCaysville was Hawkinsville! H.T. McCay bought a farm on the Copperhill side of the river and Aaron Matthews bought a farm on the McCaysville side. They built a ferry where the old river bridge is now and one operated it for one month and then the other.

6. The Copper Basin Discovery of copper occurred in 1843 in an area now known as Ducktown. By 1847, it is recorded that 90 cakes of ore were transported over poor trails to the railroad at Dalton. In the spring of 1899 the Tennessee Copper Company began smelting works near McCays and the town grew rapidly. Grading for the company railroad began and a shaft was sunk for the Burra Burra Mine in Ducktown. Learn more about the mining history of the Copper Basin at the Ducktown Basin Museum, located at the historic Burra Burra Mine in Duck- town, Tn.  www.ducktownbasinmuseum.com

7. Mineral Bluff Mineral Bluff was first settled in 1842, but wasn’t incorporated until 1895, when the railroad brought a period of affluence to the town.  At one time, Mineral Bluff had five stores, a grist mill, livery stable, hotel, post office, small jail and a train depot.  A tannery began operation in 1904.  Today, the Mineral Bluff Depot, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, has been restored and is now the home of the Tri-State Model Railroad Club.  www.tsmri.org

8. Morganton Morganton was the first Fannin County seat and oldest town. The town was founded in 1854 and incorporated in 1856. Morganton was named for Revolutionary War hero Daniel Morgan. The town is located on the east shore of Lake Blue Ridge.  Morganton Point Recreation Area is near the town.

9. Skeenah Valley The Old Skeenah Mill, on Highway 60 between Morganton and Suches, was built in 1848 by Willis Woody, who brought his family to the Skeenah Valley (named after the Cherokee word for “black bear”) in 1839. The Mill is listed on the National Register. A water-powered sawmill was also located on the creek. The Skeenah Mill was once a popular place for neighbors to gather and chat as they waited for their wheat or corn to be ground.

10. Dial Valley The earliest rural settlement in Fannin County was Dial, which was settled in 1834. A drive through the Dial commu- nity is like a step back in time. Be sure to stop and see the old iron bridge crossing the Toccoa River. There is a Chero- kee Indian fish trap, visible as a distinct “V” in the river on the east side of the bridge. Next is the Cochran-Davenport house, built in 1885 by George Cochran for his bride. All the outbuildings for this small farmstead remain intact, including an interesting spring house on the south.

11. Stanley Creek Stanley Creek Road, off of Aska Road, is the entrance to the Rich Mountain Wildlife Management Area. Stanley Creek Road turns to dirt in the Rich Mountain area and ends in Gilmer County at Cherry Log (Rock Creek Road). For a short hike to Fall Branch Falls, follow Stanley Creek 3 miles, just past Forest Warden Garfield Stanley’s home. The trailhead is marked with the Benton MacKaye white diamond. Hike in is ¼ mile to the base, following the white diamonds.

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