About the Area

Fall color as seen from Popcorn Overlook west of Clayton, GA on Highway 76

The Chattahoochee and Oconee National Forests cover a wide range of geography, geology, ecology, climate and weather, and recreational opportunities.

From the rolling hills of the Piedmont to the mountains of the southern Appalachian mountains, there are all kinds of outdoor activities to enjoy. You'll find everything you need to know about outdoor recreation, current conditions, fees, passes, facilities and amenities in the national forests in the Recreation section of this website. The National Weather Service has a great summary of the climate and the weather you can expect throughout the year in the northern half of Georgia. Get Forest alerts and links to weather.

The cities and towns of this area range from the smallest of villages in rural areas to large metropolitan centers such as Chattanooga, TN and Atlanta, GA. In the fall during the fall color season, many communities have festivals to celebrate the changing of the seasons. Any season of the year is a great time to visit; in the spring to see plants blooming, the summer to escape the heat of urban areas, in autumn to see amazing fall colors, and even during winter for unobstructed views and occasional snow covered mountains.

Recreation Overview

Georgia's national forests are said to be a hiker's paradise. Winding trails lead visitors through scenic mountains and rolling hills, by wild rushing rivers and cascading waterfalls. They also lead visitors through the history books: Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto's futile search for gold, the United States' first frenzied gold rush. The Cherokee Indians' struggle to hold on to heir lands, and major battles of the Civil War.

Ten wildernesses, 1,367 miles of trout streams, and 430 miles of trails enrich the Chattahoochee National Forest. The famous 2,135-mile Appalachian Trail begins here and hardy hikers don't see the end until they reach Maine!

Drive along the Ridge and Valley Scenic Byway, which tours the Armuchee Ridges of the Appalachian Mountains. Several major Civil War battles were fought in this area, most of them centered around the railroad, which stretched from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Atlanta, Georgia.

Across from the Armuchee Ridges lie the Blue Ridge Mountains. Lake Conasauga sits here, the States highest lake at more than 3,000 feet above sea level. This clear cool mountain lake is surrounded by white pines and eastern hemlocks.

Don't forget to stop at Brasstown Bald, Georgia's highest peak at 4,784 feet. Trails traverse the mountain and the observation deck offers breathtaking panoramic views of mountains and valleys.

Unlike the tall peaks of the Chattahoochee, the Oconee National Forest is relatively flat with small hills. Visit Lake Sinclair, 15,300 acres, popular for swimming, fishing, boating, and camping. Near Lake Oconee, an easy 1-mile trail leads to one of Georgia's ghost towns, Scull Shoals.

If a wealth of trails is the hallmark of the Chattahoochee, bountiful game is the signature of the Oconee. There are also plenty of excellent fishing opportunities.

The unique features of Georgia's national forests make these land a place of exploration and wonder. They are unique lands rich with recreation opportunities, history and spectacular scenery.

Visitors can contact a Forest Service office for directions, information about recreation areas, safety tips, news and special events.

Contact a local Forest Service office by calling:

Blue Ridge District Office, Blairsville, Ga. – 706-745-6928
Chattooga River District Office, Lakemont, Ga. – 706-754-6221
Conasauga District Office, Chatsworth, Ga. – 706-695-6736
Oconee District Office, Eatonton, Ga. – 706-485-7110

Find a comprehensive list of all recreation opportunities across the national forest is available, or grouped by type of activity or by Ranger District.

Interactive Visitor Map

Interactive Visitor Map

Some Forest roads close during the winter season, and motorists are advised to consult the official motor vehicle use map or call the nearest Forest Service office to confirm the status of specific roads. Road closures can occur at any time, which will be posted on the website under "Alerts & Notices" at: www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/conf/alerts-notices.


Learn more about visiting Georgia:


Georgia Visitor Centers and Chambers of Commerce



On the Chattahoochee National Forest

Hiking and Riding: With over 430 miles of trails on the Chattahoochee, it's hard to find an area without some type of footpath! From short day hikes to more arduous trips, for novices or experts, there is a trail for every level, every purpose, The four long-distance trails on the Chattahoochee are great for backpacking: the Benton MacKaye (53 miles), Bartram (37 miles), Duncan Ridge (35.5 miles), and Appalachian (79 miles).

Water Recreation: The Chattooga Wild and Scenic River is most popular for guided rafting trips. This premier whitewater river offers some of the most challenging rapids in the Southeast. The Chattahoochee and Toccoa rivers are popular for canoe or kayak. Unlike most Georgia rivers, the Toccoa flows north instead of south, and is considered to be the state's loveliest river.

Fishing: Nearby Lake Blue Ridge is the only place in Georgia where anglers can catch muskellunge. This 3,290-acre lake is bordered by two Forest Service campgrounds and has a privately owned marina for boat rentals. Nottely Lake, Lake Chatuge, Lake Burton, and Lake Rabun also tough the Chattahoochee and provide good trout and bass fishing. With over 1,300 miles of trout streams on the forest, there are plenty opportunities to catch trout, walleye, bluegill, and bass.

Scenic Drives: The Ridge and Valley Scenic Byway is a 47-mile loop through the Armuchee Ridges. "Armuchee" is a Cherokee Indian work meaning :land of flowers," still an accurate description. John's Mountain Overlook has outstanding views reaching into Alabama and Tennessee. A nature trail from the overlook leads to Keown Falls Scenic Area, where twin waterfalls can be seen from an observation platform.

Spectacular fall colors bust in the trees along the Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway. This 38-miles look has many interesting stops along the way. Dukes Creek Falls trail leads to the bottom of a gorge, where the air is cooled by the misty spray from the waterfalls. Several pools formed from the cold water tumbling down 250 feet provide a welcome relief for wary hikers.

Farther along the drive is the Raven Cliffs Trail, which twists for 2 ½ miles around several waterfalls, including one of the most unusual falls in the forest where water pours out of a crevice in a massive cliff about 90 feet high. Brasstown Bald is another popular stop on this drive.

Points of Interest: Brasstown Bald is the highest peak in Georgia. Shuttle vans carry most visitors from a parking lot to the top, but hardy hikers climb the path to the crest. Winds are always present on the lofty summit, which provides breathtaking views from the Visitor Center's observation deck.

The cool, still hush of the surrounding lush forest is broken only by the thundering water of Anna Ruby Falls. This unique double waterfall cascades off of Tray Mountain in a spectacular 153-foot drop. The Lion's Eye Trail for the Blind adds a special dimension to one of Georgia's most visited spots.

Historic Sites: In the Northwest portion of the Chattahoochee, on the other side of Interstate 75, the mountain peaks are lower and shaped in long, narrow ridges, separated by valleys. These valleys have been used for centuries as human and animal passage ways. Great armies clashed here during the Civil Was as Union General William Tecumseh Sherman led his troops towards the fateful battle of Atlanta, which sealed the Confederacy's doom.

Explore this visitor map for more details about recreation opportunities on the Chattahoochee National Forest:


large fun map


On the Oconee National Forest

Approximately 60 miles southeast of Atlanta, the Oconee National Forest is an easy drive and has much to offer those in the heart of the state.  Boasting group campsites, the largest lake in the state, and recreational opportunities galore, the Oconee District is one not miss.

Hiking and Riding: Hiking trails are near major recreation areas. Three trails are suitable for horseback riding near the Ocmulgee River. The 1-mile Burgess Mountain Trail reaches the highest point on the forest at 645 feet above sea level, and is open to horseback riding.

Water Recreation: Lake Sinclair is a popular lake for swimming, fishing, and boating. The Oconee River is an excellent canoeing river, with the Oconee River Campground the favorite launching point.

Fishing: Spring catches of red-breast sunfish, particularly in the Ocmulgee River, are considered exceptional. Lake Oconee is well Known for its crappie and other fish.

Historic Sites: The site of Georgia's fist cotton gin an paper mill, Scull Shoals is crumbling ghost town near lake Oconee. Tumbling walls and other ruins still stand amidst the lush forest and quiet waters. A short trail nearby leads to two prehistoric Indian mounds.


Lake Sinclair Swimming Area