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3 Ways to See North Georgia

By foot, kayak, or on top of a Boulder, North Georgia has plenty of outside activities.
Backpacker_Magazine_North_GeorgiaPhoto by Willie Johnson

Backpack

Hike in historic footsteps

When naturalist William Bartram hiked this region in 1773, he saw more Cherokees than settlers. His journals are now a window to the culture and indigenous plant life of the South. You can retrace the Georgia part of his route on a 17.7-mile section of Bartram Trail. Begin at the Warwoman Dell parking area, 3 miles east of Clayton. As you pass the steep plunges of Becky Branch and Martin’s Creek Falls, keep an eye out for wild boars in the rhododendrons. Camp by a stream 8 miles in, before Wilson Gap. In the morning, climb to Rabun Bald. At 4,696 feet, Georgia’s second-highest point provides 360-degree views of the Blue Ridge. Peel off in your shuttle car at Hale Ridge Road (FR 7) 4 miles later as the trail creeps into North Carolina. georgiatrails.com/trails/bartram.html

Paddle

Ride cinema’s most infamous river

Sure, Deliverance was filmed here, but don’t let that—or the boaters squealing on the Chattooga River’s class IV rapids—spook you. Sections 3 and 4 offer some of the sweetest paddling in the South. Put in at the parking area along Earl’s Ford Road, 30 minutes from Clayton. Day 1 is a crescendo of thrills, with 13 miles of class II-III rapids culminating at Bull Sluice, where a protruding rock on river left hides coves waiting to be explored. Camp on river right at the put-in/takeout just below the US 76 bridge. You’ll wake up to section 4, the steepest, hardest-charging part of the Chattooga. Rapids like Soc ‘em Dog, Crack-in-the-Rock, and the serial drops of Five Falls make this 6-mile stretch of class IV the jewel of Georgia whitewater. wildwaterrafting.com/chattooga.html

Boulder

Climb the state’s stickiest sandstone

With route names like Nose Candy, Drug Test Policy, and Pulling Tubes, it’s a wonder the climbers who pioneered the region’s premier bouldering spot got any climbing done at all. Known as Rocktown, this collection of house-sized boulders has routes (aka problems) for beginners and fiends alike. A 1-mile trail just off Rocky Lane, about 5 miles north of Lafayette, accesses the boulder field. Warm up with low roof problems at the Orb, and then spend the afternoon top-roping in the Maze (where the main trail ends). Take the right fork along Rocky Lane just past the Rocktown trailhead for free camping and bass fishing at Saw Mill Lake. Rise to a morning hike upstream in the Pocket, named after the gap in the dense foliage on either side. drtopo.com/georgia/rocktown.pdf

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