Trivia: Did you know that Georgia is the largest state East of the Mississippi River in total land area? It is fourth largest behind Florida, Michigan, and Wisconsin if the expanses of water territory is included.
A few years ago, my wife and I decided to venture out of our South Georgia home and travel North for some much needed vacation time. Not that it was our first vacation, however, it was the area that we chose to visit that was unfamiliar to us. With that being the case, we really wanted to optimize our time so that we could make the best use of it. The "North" that I'm speaking of in this case refers to North Georgia, particularly the Blairsville area (about 5+ hours driving distance from us). And though much of this post deals with resources relating to North Georgia, some are also beneficial for other areas of our great state too. To make things simple, I have placed these resources into the following categories: Books (includes anything written, usually purchased and carried) and Links (to include websites and computer apps).
Perhaps the book that we've found to be most beneficial is Brian A. Boyd's North Georgia Mountains Pocket Companion: 99 great things to see and do. Within the pages of this book the author goes to great lengths to provide directions and a brief summary to scenic waterfalls, favorite trails, historic sites, U.S Forest Service campgrounds, recreation areas, maps and directions, GPS coordinates, and other fun things to do. Quite frankly, it is our number one "go to" guide and we don't leave home without it! As a helpful tip, my wife and I usually grade the things that we accomplish in this book by writing a brief summary on the pages. We also make notes that our friends may find useful should they ever want to borrow this handy guide. We purchased our copy at the General Store in Dahlonega, GA. for $10.99. If you only purchase one book/guide, we'd suggest this one, though it primarily deals with North Georgia.
A new book for us is one that we saw in a cabin in which we were guests recently. The Georgia Conservancy's Guide to the North Georgia Mountains - Revised & Updated (Edited by Fred Brown and Nell Jones: Preface by Jimmy Carter) is chocked full of great information and includes sites, history, directions, and maps. It really covers everything! We purchased our used copy on Amazon.com for around $7.00 including shipping, and after thumbing through it, we have compared the information of many of the things that we've done and found its information to be accurate. The first edition of the guide was published in 1991. Our copy is the third edition and was published in 1996.
The Wayward Traveler's Guide to Waterfalls and Back Roads (Franklin & Highlands NC; Clayton GA 2014/15 Edition) is another guide that we find to be an excellent resource. We picked up this magazine during our most recent trip to Clayton, GA, though we have followed the Wayward Traveler's Facebook page for quite some time. The sites recommended in this magazine, as well as on their Facebook page, are outstanding. The directions and related information are presented very well and we found many of their assessments of the attractions to be very accurate too! The authors, Dave and Tammy Wolfe, are local to the area around Franklin NC and Clayton GA and have obviously taken the time for "extensive exploration" as their guide states. They have definitely hit a homerun with this guide. And though I feel that this guide/magazine is worth far more, the cost is a very affordable $4.95. Money well spent!! Be sure to check out the Wayward Traveler's Facebook page too!
Our most recently acquired resource is a map with many of our state's waterfalls listed on it. The Backroads Less Traveled With Waterfalls of North East Georgia & Part of North Carolina is more than just waterfalls, however, it is also an excellent guide that lists mountain elevations, hiking trails, lakes, highways/backroads, wineries, and much more. On the right side of the map, brief directions are given for 22 waterfalls in Georgia, six in North Carolina, and six in South Carolina. The map also lists area campgrounds, parks, WMAs, though no description is provided. This map is viewed pretty much like a regular state map, but with much less clutter, as it designed primarily with an adventure seeker in mind. For a price point of around $15, it is a resource that we recommend and it can be picked up at many of the area State Parks or local general stores.
As far as resources go, we have found that the internet is far and away our most reliable resource for planning our vacations and trips throughout the state. Most of the sites that we frequent are updated regularly and most have updated pictures to view. YouTube is an excellent source that we've utilized on many occasions to see actual user reviews of the places we want to visit. Though YouTube is not necessarily specific to Georgia, it is a tool that we use that many may overlook. Simply put, we type in the name of the place that we intend to visit. In most cases, there will be a wide variety amateur video clips uploaded, and most contain commentary. This is a great way to preview an area to decide whether or not it is worth the effort. Be sure to remember YouTube!
ExporeGeorgia.org website and Facebook page. Wow! If you are looking for a great way to plan and organize your trip to Georgia...start here! Touted as Georgia's Official Tourism and Travel Site, it is loaded with helpful information including regions and cities, things to do, places to stay, dining, events, and trip ideas. There is a newsletter that you can sign up for, and there is an online itinerary tool that you can utilize to help you organize your trip. This site has it all...ALL of GEORGIA! You can't miss this one!
When planning a hike, I have found the AtlantaTrails.com website and Facebook page to be one of the best resources on the web. A description from the website states its purpose this way:
"Atlanta Trails reviews the best Georgia hiking trails, backpacking trails and running trails throughout the state and in the Atlanta area. Our Georgia hiking trail reviews and Atlanta hiking and running trail reviews include trail info, trail maps, elevation profiles, inspiring photography and driving directions. Our goal? To inspire Atlanta residents and visitors to get active outside and to find a great Georgia hiking, backpacking or running adventure."
Be sure to check out the Atlanta Trails website to help you plan your trip!
Have you heard of PB&J Adventures? If not, I'd like to recommend that you visit their website at PB&Jadventures.com or their Facebook page. This is a family run site that posts many informative articles, pictures, and reviews about their travels throughout America, though they have much content about Georgia...the whole state! It's a great site and one that I gladly recommend for anyone wanting much more out of their time in Georgia!
Finally, I'd like to suggest two other links that we find very helpful. First, our Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites website is locate at gastateparks.org and it is rich in content about all of our state parks and historic sites (as you might have guessed). Additionally, you'll find directions to the parks and sites, as well as other surrounding places of interest. You'll also find event dates and pictures of the various sites here too. In addition to the website and Facebook page, there is also a smartphone app available...we've got that too! Be sure to check them out!
The last site that I'd recommend is AboutNorthGeorgia.com. Though it is not a site that we utilize very often, it does have quite a bit of information available. Of particular note is its historical information content. I am not aware of a Facebook page for this site.
So there's our list. These are our trusted "go to" resources to help us plan our visits throughout our great state. Though not an exhaustive list, we hope that you'll find it useful and take the time to share it with your neighbors, friends, and relatives. Be sure to add other sites or links to this list in the comments section below too. We look forward to hearing from you!