Northeast Georgia is rich with history and breathtaking scenery and some of the most beautiful areas anywhere in the South are right here in Stephens County, or nearby. Here are some of the places you can visit here and in the immediate area.
Hartwell Lake is one of the southeast’s largest and most popular public recreation lakes. Built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1955 and 1963 as part of a flood control, hydro power, and navigation project, authorized purposes now include recreation, water quality, water supply, and fish and wildlife management. Each year, millions of people utilize the many public parks, marinas, and campgrounds conveniently located around the lake to pursue a variety of outdoor recreational experiences – making Hartwell one of the most visited Corps lakes in the nation
Hartwell Lake is a man-made lake bordering Georgia and South Carolina on the Savannah, Tugaloo, and Seneca Rivers. The lake is created by Hartwell Dam located on the Savannah River seven miles below the point at which the Tugaloo and Seneca Rivers join to form the Savannah. Extending 49 miles up the Tugaloo and 45 miles up the Seneca at normal pool elevation, Hartwell Lake comprises nearly 56,000 acres of water with a shoreline of 962 miles. The entire Hartwell “Project” contains 76,450 acres of land and water. Interstate 85 bisects Hartwell Lake and makes the area easily accessible to visitors.
Hartwell Lake and Dam is the second Corps of Engineers project to be built in the Savannah River Basin. The first, J. Strom Thurmond Lake and Dam, was completed in 1952. A third project, Richard B. Russell Lake and Dam was completed in 1985. Congress authorized Hartwell in 1950 and construction began in October 1955. The project was completed in 1963 at a cost of more than $89 million.
Hartwell Dam distance from Toccoa: 34 miles Learn More
Tallulah Gorge State Park
“Immerse yourself in awe-inspiring beauty or daring adventures with a glimpse into the past at Tallulah Gorge State Park, where the Tallulah River flows through rugged terrain to carve a complex 1,000 foot geologic formation and five spectacular waterfalls which provide habitat for many unique species.”
One of the most spectacular canyons in the eastern U.S., Tallulah Gorge is two miles long and nearly 1,000 feet deep. Visitors can hike rim trails to several overlooks, or they can obtain a permit to hike to the gorge floor (100 per day, not available during water releases). A suspension bridge sways 80 feet above the rocky bottom, providing spectacular views of the river and waterfalls. Tightrope walkers have twice crossed the gorge, and visitors can still see towers used by Karl Wallenda. A paved path follows an on old railroad bed, perfect for strollers and bicycles, while mountain bikers can test their skills on a challenging 10 mile trail.
Exhibits in the park’s Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center highlight the rich history of this Victorian resort town, as well as the rugged terrain and fragile ecosystem of the area. The persistent trillium, monkey-face orchid and green salamander are protected species found within the gorge. An award-winning film takes viewers on a dramatic journey through the gorge, including footage of rock climbers and kayakers. A gift shop offers snacks, jewelry, toys, books, walking sticks, clothing and more.
Distance from Toccoa 18 miles: Learn More
Tugaloo State Park
“The serene setting of Tugaloo State Park is your starting point to creating family memories with spectacular sunrise and sunset views from the shores of Lake Hartwell, exceptional recreational opportunities, rich cultural heritage and natural resources of the Appalachian Mountains Foothills.”
Situated on a wooded peninsula, Tugaloo’s cottages and most campsites offer spectacular views of 55,590 acre Lake Hartwell in every direction. Some cottages even have private boat docks for overnight guests. Tent campers can choose between the developed campground or primitive sites located a short walk from the parking area. During summer, the lake is a popular destination for swimming, water skiing, sailing and boating. Both the Sassafras and Muscadine hiking trails wind through oak, walnut, mulberry and cherry trees.
Tugaloo State Park boasts a six-lane mega ramp used for large fishing tournaments and easy lake access. Fishing is excellent year-round, and large-mouth bass are plentiful. The name “Tugaloo” comes from an Indian name for the river which once flowed freely prior to the construction of Hartwell Dam.
Distance from Toccoa 18 Miles: Learn More
Lake Russell Wildlife Management Area
Lake Russell Wildlife Management Area is located in Cornelia. The primary purpose of Wildlife Management Areas is to support wildlife conservation in the state and allow public access to hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreational activities. This 17,300-acre property has opportunities for deer, bear, turkey, small game and coyote hunting.
Accommodations & Facilities
- Bike Trails
- Equestrian Trails
- Hiking Trails
- Primitive Campsites
Distance from Toccoa 9.7 miles: Learn More