Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests Overview

Travel Tips
Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests
Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests (James Randklev/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty)
Chattahoochee-Oconee Forests
Contact Details
Chattahoochee-Oconee Forests
1755 Cleveland Hwy.
Gainesville, GA 30501
Phone: 770-297-3000
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  • The Chattahoochee is the more rugged of the two forests and includes a piece of the legendary Blue Ridge Mountains. Often called "a hiker's paradise," the Chat has more than 430 miles of trails that wander through mountains, wind along rolling hills, and traverse wild rivers. You'll find the highest mountain in the state, numerous waterfalls, hundreds of miles of trout streams, and the base of the Appalachian Trail.
  • The Oconee lays across the gently rolling Piedmont section of central Georgia. This is family fishing, camping, and hiking. Beautiful Sinclair Lake is a real centerpiece here—a fun spot for a range of water and land activities.
  • The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests offer 20 campgrounds with 800 individual campsites, spread from the Tennessee state line to Middle Georgia, and from Alabama to the wild and scenic Chattooga River. Most of them are situated in an appealing natural situation with plenty of recreation adjacent to the campground.
  • Cooper Creek Scenic Area features a quintessential mountain stream flowing beneath a richly wooded valley. Cooper Creek Campground is located on the edge of the scenic area, allowing easy access to the creek and its surrounding ridges. Favored by anglers, hikers, and those seeking to beat the summer heat and get back to nature, Cooper Creek delivers.
  • The Chattahoochee National Forest has approximately 1,400 miles of roads open to autos. Approximately half of these miles are groomed for high clearance vehicles. However, there is plenty of road for passenger vehicles, including three designated scenic byways that traverse different areas of the national forest.

By Travel Expert: Johnny Molloy

  • Climb Georgia's highest mountain, 4,784-foot Brasstown Bald, and peer out at Georgia, Tennessee, and North and South Carolina. Although the summit is vehicle-accessible, a couple of moderate hiking trails wind through the forest canopy. See a riot of wildflowers in spring and glorious foliage in fall.
  • Paddle the Chattooga Wild and Scenic River, a primitive river corridor that is one of the Southeast's last free-flowing rivers. Go it alone only if you're an experienced kayaker: With Class II–IV+ whitewater, it's a good idea to run the rapids with an outfitter like the well-respected Nantahala Outdoor Center.
  • Fish for rainbow and brown trout on the Conasauga River in the remote, unsullied Cohutta Wilderness Area. With more than 40,000 acres in Georgia and Tennessee (where it's known as Big Frog Wilderness Area), the Cohuttas comprise the largest wilderness east of the Mississippi. The access is difficult, but your payoff is pristine and deserted streams that boast some of the Southeast's best fly-fishing.
  • The 50-mile Ridge and Valley Scenic Byway offers the best of northwest Georgia scenery, brimming with wildflowers in spring and summer. Park the car and hike the two-mile loop to Keown Falls. (Note that these falls frequently run dry, so the best times to see water are in fall and winter when rain and snowmelt bolster the cascades.)
  • Rent a mountain bike to explore beginner-friendly Stonewall Loop, an eight-mile woodland classic of knotted tree roots, stream jumps, mudholes, mountain views, and the occasional snake basking in the sun. Cap off a perfect ride at a lovely waterfall toward the end, where you can cool off and wash away some of that dirt. Hudson Valley, in the northwest section of the forest, also has 25 miles of varied single- and doubletrack.
By Travel Expert: Alistair Wearmouth

Published: 6 Oct 2008 | Last Updated: 13 Sep 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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