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Wow, Chattooga River in the North Georgia Hills Simply Amazing

Fall foliage for Sandy Springs Patch readers: A weekend trip to the Chattooga River turned up no banjos or hillbillies, but rugged terrain filled with peace and beauty. Unfortunately, no fish.

 

From Dunwoody Patch Editor Jason Massad

My girlfriend and I took advantage of the crisp, clean weekend, and set their sites on an area they've been to before, but have never fully explored: The Chattooga River - the one made famous by author James Dickey, actors Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, etc.

But let's be real. I put those kinds of fears to rest years ago (I think.)

My girlfriend is an outdoorswoman and an avid photographer, and - me - I find the best way to unwind from time-to-time is to hump a 60-lb. pack and find a perfect spot in a river to rig-up and catch some trout.

So, whatever our disparate motives, we were game this weekend to see the leaves do their thing.

The Chattooga River at Russell's Bridge is a little off the beaten path, but if you can make it to Tallulah Gorge - one of recommendations in our fall leaf-watching guide - you're pretty close. Believe me, it's well worth it.

  • How to get there: This map will get you to Clayton, about a 2-hour drive from Atlanta. When there, it's probably not a bad idea to ask where to go when you fill up with gas.The next part's a little tricky and the people are helpful and friendly.
  • What you want to do is pick up Warwoman Road headed east, which branches from the heart of town. After 14 miles, a split at Highway 28 will take you south to the S.C./Georgia border.
  • Cross Russell's Bridge over the mighty Chattooga River, make a left into the parking lot in front of a cattle fence. You're there. Walk north along the well-marked trail that follows the famous river.

Heads up: You need to have backpacking gear for an overnight stay. A short jaunt into this trail is not what you want. There aren't many easy-to-reach vistas.

But as displayed by the pictures in the slideshow, it's absolutely gorgeous, and for those who still want a shot at it, I'm happy to report the fall colors have not yet peaked. But a warning: two weeks tops is my guess

Cut the logistics and you have only the best part; the overwelming beauty, peace and a surprising (and welcome) lack of people along the river.

While walking, familiar Rhododendron line the trail. Hickory Oak, White Pine and Dry Oak abound near the river - according to my research. Whatever you call them, the leaves of orange, yellow and magenta are dream-like to see raining down, fluttering in the breeze and spindling into the river.

With this, somehow you're not looking at nature; you're in it. And that's enough for me to call it a good weekend.

But there's the issue of fishing - and this created no unity. Here's the skinny; I caught none. I rigged various baits. I froze my toes off. I failed. In my defense - I'm still learning the river.

Despite my failure, something that turns me on about the Chattooga - the literal dividing line of Georgia and South Carolina - is the apparent existence of the Southern brook trout.

Conventional wisdom says it's not going too well for these guys. The Rainbow trout, visitors from the west that thrive here, and Brown Trout, imports from Europe, make the Southern Brook exceedingly rare. It's just business, as they say.

So I look ahead. When I do catch a Southern Brook this year or next (and an upcoming course of study is upcoming on that river and its fishs' habits) I will consider it a feat. Not for bragging rights and not just because my favorite fall season will play out all around me, but because I'll be a part of a cherished realness with the natural world.

It sure is rare to find and be a part of.

 

  • Upload some of your fall photos to this gallery. We can either combine them with these or feature the searately. We want to see pictures you've taken or of your beautiful yard.

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