Road Trip through Rabun
Road Trip through Rabun
The adventurous traveler will find subtle references to the beauty of Rabun County it the names of the communities there; names that resonate and beckon, such as Persimmon Creek, Rabun Gap, Sky Valley, Tallulah Falls, Tiger. The fertile forested earth of the Southern Appalachian Mountains folds down steep mountains to embracing coves that roll toward valley floors veined with creeks and rivers that feed the county’s five lakes. With all this beauty, the traveler will also be rewarded with rich history, produce and products that are nourished by the ancient soils, art and implements made by local hands, and authentic welcoming hospitality.
From north to south Rabun County’s incorporated communities are strung like pearls along Georgia Highway 441. Just below the North Carolina/Georgia line, the City of Dillard welcomes southbound visitors to Georgia and the original Farm-to-Table restaurant of Rabun County. The iconic Dillard House has pleased the palates of all ages since 1917. Though the Dillard family no longer farms, they actively support local farmers and often personally select the produce that comes into the kitchen.
If travelers are seeking higher ground, they can take Hwy. 246 east from Dillard and climb steeply to the Sky Valley overlook. Below, Rabun County spreads south showing off the farms and communities surrounded by the beautiful blue hue of the Blue Ridge Mountain, and facing the Eastern Continental Divide. Continuing on Georgia Highway 246 visitors enter the City of Sky Valley, Georgia’s highest elevation city. The community, situated half way between Dillard and Highlands, NC, prides itself in being the coolest place to play golf in Georgia.
Continuing south on Hwy 441, the valley opens to its broadest at Rabun Gap. Here the historic Rabun Gap Nacoochee School spreads across hilly terrain and many mistake the beautiful architecture for a college campus. The student body includes local, national and international students who add vitality to the county with their programs such as the annual student conceived, directed and performed Cirque program.
Mountain City, a uniquely situated recreation and retirement haven, is also the Gateway to Black Rock Mountain State Park. One of three state parks located in Rabun County, Blackrock is the highest state park in Georgia. With its scenic forest, quaint cabins, and hiking trails, it is the recreational jewel of the area.
Originally known as the “Dividings”, the City of Clayton (and County Seat) sits prominently where two of the three major Cherokee trails cross in the heart of the County. Today known as the east-west Highway 76 and the north-south Highway 441, these are the major arteries that provide the County and Clayton with easy access to the entire Northeast Georgia region. Under the brow of Black Rock Mountain, the city is the hub of commerce with boutique shopping, fresh and local dining, and unique owner-operated shops and galleries.
The town of Tiger is the geographic center of the county and is reached via Old Historic Highway441. Two popular legends describe how the town got its name. One is that it was named for Tiger Tail, a Cherokee chief. The second (and more likely) story is that the name came from the cry of nocturnal panthers that used to roam these mountains. Some say they still do.
Historic Lakemont Village – “A New Community built on Old Foundations”, featuring renovated and restored buildings from the early 1900’s, Historic Lakemont Village is a must see stop when visiting the Northeast Georgia Mountains. The village itself is a unique collection of art galleries and antique vendors, a small day spa and a charming market/deli sitting on the very edge of Old Historic Highway 441.
Returning to the parallel “new” Hwy. 441 the journey continues to the small city of Tallulah Falls, the oldest incorporated city in the county. By the middle of the 19th century, the city became known as the “Niagara of the South” and boasted a vital tourism economy. It is perched on the edge of Tallulah Gorge, one of the most spectacular canyons in the eastern United States and listed as one of the Seven Wonders of Georgia. At three miles long and nearly 1,000 feet deep, visitors can hike rim trails to several overlooks or can hike to the gorge floor (with free permit). A suspension bridge, located 80 feet above the rocky bottom, provides spectacular views of the river and waterfalls, and offers great photography opportunities.
Leaving Tallulah Falls travelers will see the beautiful forested mountains of Rabun County in their rear view mirrors. Having made the journey, it will be clear why Rabun County, Georgia is The Natural Choice for recreation, for relaxation, for a lifetime.