Toccoa Means Beautiful Nestled among the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in northeast Georgia is Toccoa, the County seat of Stephens County. When the Cherokee Indians discovered it, they called it "Toccoah" meaning beautiful, and gave it special significance and reverence. Today, "beautiful" is still evident when experiencing the magnificent natural wonders, historic attractions, recreational activities, and the way of life found throughout Toccoa-Stephens County. Situated just 90 miles north of Atlanta and 65 miles northwest of Greenville, South Carolina, Toccoa-Stephens County is the perfect retreat to get away from it all.
Outdoor Recreational Activities And Associated Attractions in Stephens County
Currahee Mountain is the last mountain in the Blue Ridge chain of mountains. Currahee is a Cherokee Indian name that translates to "Stands alone." From almost any road leading into Stephens County, the mountain can be seen as it "stands alone" above the horizon. Currahee rises in a conical form to a height of 900 feet and has a total elevation of 1740 feet. In the east, it sinks to the level of the valley, but on the western side it blends with a ridge that unites it with the Allegheny chain of mountains. The mountain is located within the Chattahoochee National Forest and Lake Russell Wildlife Management Area where wild game roam through the forest protected by the State and Federal Game Commissions. There are numerous mines dug by Indians and early settlers where rubies, garnets, silver, and some gold were found. Many of the caves were used as a refuge by Cherokee Indians who didn’t want to follow the Trail of Tears and later by people who didn’t want to be recruited to fight during the Civil War. The two most famous caves are "The Ron’s Den" on the west side and "The Silver Mine" on the east side of Currahee.
There is a trail up the front of the mountain that is not designated in the U.S. Forest Trail System, which means it is not maintained by the U.S. Forest Service and is not marked. Eagle Scouts have adopted this trail as a project and have cleared the path. To get there, take 123 West from Toccoa. Turn left onto Hwy. 184 South (Homer Road) past the State Patrol Station. Go 9/10 mile and park at the voting station on the right. (It’s a small white cinderblock building with two front doors and a porch. A sign on the front gable says "Currahee GMD 402".) The moderate hike starts gently across a power line clearing and makes a steep ascent up the mountain. The forest types are shortleaf pines and mixed hardwoods, such as oak, hickory and sweet gum. As you reach midway, the number of large rock formations increases and trees wrap their roots picturesquely around them. Close to the top is a giant rock overhang that provides a panoramic view of rolling hills and the beginning of the mountain range. Adventurous souls rappel and hang glide from this perch. Birds fly by at eye level. If you carry a daypack, this is a great place to spread out a blanket, have a picnic and relax. Following the trail further up takes you to the fence surrounding the communications towers next to the maintenance building. On the very peak of the mountain is where the old ranger tower used to be. If you follow the dirt/gravel road a few yards down the other side of the mountain, there is a graffiti covered rock that also provides a nice view, but it doesn’t compare with the one at the rock overhang.


If you’d rather not hike that far and your car (and driver) can handle rough terrain, drive to the top and hike down to the jutting rock overlook. The dirt/gravel Currahee Mountain Road is passable, but travel is slow and dicey near the top. You need to be especially careful choosing your path if your car has a low chassis. Take Hwy. 123 North from Toccoa, turn left onto National Forest Road #62 directly before Ayersville Road at the Milliken plant. Look for a large brown sign that says "Lake Russell Wildlife Management Area, Chattahoochee National Forest". Broad River Trail – This trail is located in the Lake Russell Wildlife Management Area and is maintained by the U.S. Forest Service because it is in the National Forest System of Trails. Don’t hike any trail or road that will take you on Wildlife Management Areas or privately owned land during deer hunting season. You may call the Department of Natural Resources at 770-535-5700 to verify hunting seasons in these areas. Broad River Trail is a camping, hiking, and fishing paradise with an abundance of wildlife. This is a relatively easy hike and is excellent for novice hikers and family groups. The trail follows streams, waterfalls, lush mountain foliage and runs 3.8 miles from Farmers Bottom to where Dicks Creek intersects with Forest Service Road #87. To get there: Take Highway 123 North from Toccoa and turn left onto Ayersville Road at the Milliken Humphrey Plant. Go .8 mi. to Forest Service Road #87 and turn left onto the dirt/gravel road. This service road is rough and rocky in some spots so you need to be careful if you are in a low-chassis car. As you travel 2.1 miles, you’ll pass the Ranger’s checking station on the left. Bear to the left at the fork in the road and drive until you see the brown and beige sign on the right that says "Hiker Trail." Follow the blue blazes. Panther Creek Trail – This trail is in Habersham and Stephens Counties and is under the jurisdiction of the Chattooga Ranger District in Habersham County. It is part of the National Forest System of Trails and is maintained by the U.S. Forest Service. It is a six-mile hike, one way, and is for the sure-footed and those unafraid of heights. For the experienced hiker, the scenery is well worth the effort: cliffs, huge boulders and waterfalls make this stream one of the most scenic areas in Georgia. The starting point in Stephens County is near Yonah Dam. To get there: Follow Prather Bridge Road (Highway 184) until it becomes Yonah Dam Road. After you cross the bridge where Panther Creek meets the Tugalo River before you get to the dam, bear left and take the first dirt road to the left, which is Panther Creek Road. Follow this road until it dead ends. Cross the metal footbridge and take the trail up the hill to the right. To the left is a large grove of walnut trees, growing in rows. The symmetry is an odd juxtaposition to the natural setting.
This trail is considered easy to moderate and is 6.0 miles, one way. Most of the typical mountain streamside plants abound along Panther Creek. Rhododendron, mountain laurel, large white pine, hemlock and beech grow beside the stream. The first 2.0 miles is difficult because it is less defined and more dangerous than the rest of the trail. You’ll come upon a large, enticing pool at the base of a series of waterfalls that has a splashing slide in the middle. Not knowing what to expect, most people are astounded by the beauty, size and power of the waterfall, especially during the high water levels of winter and spring. The steep path goes up the side of the falls to the next protruding vantage point, then goes upward to the outer edge of an immense outcropping and winds along the upper falls. Path-narrowing outcrops past the falls lead to the high shoals near the logged area. For approximately one mile, the path rises and dips, conforming to the creekside topography. The stream becomes calm and the trail is sidewalk flat for a while, then you have to negotiate guy wires, rocks and fallen trees as you walk under the Highway 441 Bridge. Across the road is the Panther Creek Recreation Area, which has restrooms and picnic areas – perfect for a break before you start back to your vehicle.


Yonah Dam, completed in 1925, is the lowest step in the staircase of six power developments down which the waters of the Tallulah, Chattooga, and Tugalo rivers are led in their plunge from the Blue Ridge Mountain heights toward the Atlantic Coastal plain. Yonah’s storage lake (approximately 320 acres of surface area and 150,000,000 cubic feet capacity) is impounded by a cyclopean dam 900 feet long and 75 feet high with a direct plunge from surface to waterwheel of 75 feet. It has three 12,500 horsepower waterwheels. Power is developed at a voltage of 6,600 and is stepped up to 110,000 volts for transmission to the 81 cities and towns in the company’s territory. To get there: Follow Prather Bridge Road (Highway 184) until it becomes Yonah Dam Road and follow it out to the dam. Yonah Dam Road is a great place to ride a bicycle. The road is relatively flat and it’s an easy ride next to the Tugalo River. The temperature drops 10 degrees because of the proximity to the flowing river that is fed by Lake Yonah, which in turn is fed by colder mountain lakes and streams. Riding from the picnic area near the dam to Prather Bridge Road, you pass several historic houses.

Up the hill on the right is Trembly Bald Resort and Mountain, providing a 30+ mile panoramic view overlooking the Tugalo River Valley. Trembly Bald contains 1, 2, 4 and 8 bedroom original log cabins, including an original Stagecoach Inn and a new 5000 square foot Lodge. The cabins were moved and restored by local craftsmen using cedar and chestnut interior designs to create their special beauty and authenticity. The Johns House is a charming Victorian cottage on the right before you get to Prather Bridge Road. Built in 1898, it shows the influence of the era. The trim on the front gable and porch is outstanding. The front door has a fanlight with sidelights. Slender posts with banisters and trim support the porch roof. The present structure was built around a log cabin. Further down on the right, on a hill overlooking the valley of the upper Tugalo River is Riverside. This beautiful twelve columned, Greek revival antebellum home was built in 1850 by James D. Prather with the labor of his slaves and the timber from his plantation. As was usual in those days, the kitchen was separate from the house. The smoke house still stands and is now used as a garage. Ice caves still exist.

The Prather family cemetery is at the right of the house, about fifteen yards from the porch. During the Civil War, General Robert Tombs, a close friend of Mr. Prather, used the house as a refuge from northern troops. The soldiers pursued him to Riverside, where he was able to hide in a double closet and escape capture. At Riverside, turn to the left, ride down the hill to the concrete bridge and to the right you can see the remains of Prather’s Bridge. The first Prather’s Bridge was a swinging bridge built in 1804 by James Jeremiah Prather. Until then, travelers crossed the Tugalo River at fords and later by ferries. The first bridge was washed away during a freshet (an overflow caused by heavy rain). A more substantial bridge was built in 1850, but was burned in 1863 during the Civil War to keep the enemy from crossing. James Jeremiah and his son, James Devereaux rebuilt the bridge in 1868. This bridge was also washed away in 1918 and was rebuilt in 1920 by James D. Prather. It was replaced by a concrete bridge, but was kept as a landmark until burned by vandals in 1978. The pillars still stand, made from rock quarried by Mr. Prather from a nearby hillside.


Camp Toccoa is on Hwy 17 Alt., north of Toccoa. Located on 176 beautifully wooded acres and features: hiking trails, streams and waterfalls; fishing and canoeing; horseback riding, volleyball court and playground, ropes courses, swimming pool, and nature center. Owned and operated by Camp Fire Boys and Girls, Inc. – Georgia Council. For more information, call 706-886-2457.
The Georgia Baptist Conference Center – Toccoa is on Lake Louise Road. Situated on more than 900 acres, it has a 200 acre lake with fishing docks; a sandy beach with lake swimming; Jon boats; rental canoes; nature trails; tennis and basketball courts; ping pong tables; an open field for soccer, football and softball; and an inviting bonfire amphitheater. For more information, call 706-886-3133. Mikell Camp and Conference Center boasts beautiful creeks and trails, a boardwalk in a wetland, ropes courses, a rappelling wall, swimming pool, volleyball court and nature center – all located on 478 acres off Hwy 184 (Prather Bridge Road). Owned and operated by the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. For more information, call 706-886-7515.

Some of the more popular primitive camping areas open to the public are in the Lake Russell Wildlife Management Area and in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Call the U.S. Forest Service at 770-297-3000 for more information. Toccoa RV Park and Campground (706-886-2654) offers full hook-ups, laundry room, bathrooms, phone hook-ups, and sewer dump stations. There is also a pavilion and nature walk. From Hwy 17 out of Toccoa, turn left on Oak Valley Road and follow the signs. The park is 3.2 miles on the right. Georgia Baptist Conference Center has a 19-site campground complete with water and electrical hookups, a bathhouse and laundry room. Call 706-886-3133.

Almost one sixth of Stephens County is part of the Chattahoochee National Forest and the National Wildlife Reserve. This is a woodsman’s paradise. Wildlife includes: deer, turkey, feral hogs, fox, bobcat, raccoon, opossum, and doves. Hunting is permitted in season. For more information, contact the Department of Natural Resources at 770-535-5700.

The Toccoa Bird Club has documented well over 100 species of birds that migrate to or through Stephens County, including: Great Blue Heron, Yellow-Billed Cuckoo, Blue-Headed Vireo, Red-Breasted Merganser, Purple Finch.

Toccoa is fortunate to have two lakes along her borders, Yonah Lake and Lake Hartwell. Both were built primarily for electric power and both use the waters of the Tugalo River, which divides Georgia from South Carolina. Lake Louise is owned by the Georgia Baptist Conference Center-Toccoa and is also available for public use. There are five watersheds in Stephens County that are excellent for trout fishing: the Middle Fork Broad River, upstream from NRCS flood control structure No. 44 (seasonal); Little Toccoa Creek, North Fork Broad River, upstream from NRCS flood control structure No. 1 (year round); Panther Creek (year round); and Toccoa Creek, upstream from Toccoa Falls (year round). Fisherpeople reel in black crappie, largemouth bass, striped bass, hybrid bass and channel catfish from local lakes.


In Stephens County, there are four public recreation areas that have accessible ramps for entering boats into Lake Hartwell: Stephens County Recreation Area, Spring Branch, Jenkins Ferry, Bruce Creek, and Holcomb Access. There are also boat ramps at Walker Creek on the Tugaloo River and at Yonah Lake.

If you have your own horse, you may call the U. S. Forest Service office at 706-754-8221 for information on the many miles of horseback riding trails in Stephens County. Camp Toccoa has horseback riding available. For information call 706- 886-2457.

The Pines (706-886-1915) is a nine-hole course operated by the City of Toccoa and is approximately 3 miles north of Toccoa on Alt. 17. Turn right on Black Mountain Road and you’ll see the well-maintained course on the left.

Henderson Falls Park, operated by the city, has five tennis courts. In addition, this 26-acre park has a beautiful 12-foot waterfall, a nature trail, four picnic shelters, a playground and an amphitheater.
Georgia Baptist Conference Center has 2 tennis courts. Call 706-886-3133 for information.

The northern part of the county has more varied terrain than the southern portion, due to the proximity to the mountain ranges. The U.S. Forest Service maintains several dirt/gravel roads in Stephens County that serve as access for recreation use. Bicycle riding on these roads varies from strenuous to easy. The U.S. Forest Service Road #62 up Currahee Mountain is a challenging one-way ride. Black Mountain Road is both scenic and strenuous after the pavement runs out and you’re biking on dirt. There are several paved loops through the countryside on secondary roads. You could incorporate a bike ride into a tour of the Martin Historic District. These 26 structures were placed on the National Register of Historic Sites on July 7, 1995. The town of Martin is 12 miles south of Toccoa on Highway 17.

Off road vehicles, including two, three and four-wheel vehicles, can enjoy 17 miles of trails in the Locust Stake ATV Area near the north fork of the Broad River west of Toccoa. From Hwy. 123 out of Toccoa, make a right turn at Jeanette Jamieson Intersection onto Hwy. 17/365. Travel 4.1 miles and turn right on Red Rock Road shortly after you see the Habersham County sign. (A brown National Forest sign says "ATV Trails" and points to the right.) To your immediate right is Locust Stake Road, which winds back into Stephens County. Designated trails in this area range from easy to highly difficult. Users are encouraged to stay on the signed trails to prevent damage to the area. Locust Stake Road is a county road and all state and local motor vehicle laws apply.

Toccoa Falls is located on the campus of Toccoa Falls College. A meandering stream flows through the lower part of the 1,100 acre wooded campus from the base of the 186-foot high waterfall. This majestic waterfall is 29 feet higher than Niagra. Seasonal flowers and conversation benches line the brief path to the falls. "Toccoah" in the Cherokee Indian language means "beautiful". There are five walks around downtown Toccoa, varying from 1 mile to 4.5 miles. The paths are marked with hearts.


The recreational opportunities center on the mountains and lakes. The mountains offer hiking for a few hours or many days duration on trails through forests of indescribable beauty. Stephens County is blessed with the Panther Creek, Currahee Mountain and Middle Broad River Trails. Trophy trout fishing is nearby for enthusiasts in waters with limited access. Wildlife such as deer and wild turkey is limitless and hunting productive. There are many state and federal parks and campgrounds offering mountain camping and accommodations. There are numerous well-known private facilities in the immediate vicinity for groups of all sizes wishing to experience the mountains. The man-made lakes in the area, both large and small, offer a variety of water sports. From fly fishing below Lake Yonah to skiing, boating and championship bass fishing on Lake Hartwell to canoeing and kayaking to camping on one of the smaller lakes, almost every water sport is awaiting you. Organized recreational activities are offered by the Stephens County Recreation Department, the YMCA and the Northeast Georgia Boys and Girls Clubs. There are team sports, instructional activities, exercise programs and a variety of special events. Henderson Falls Park is a focal point for tennis and picnicking in addition to enjoying productions in the amphitheater and walking the nature trail. Roselane Park will house the senior center with therapeutic pool, community center, tennis courts, walking trails and softball/baseball fields. The City of Toccoa operates the nine-hole course at The Pines that features challenging holes of golf and beautiful mountain views.
Toccoa Stephens County Chamber of Commerce The Chamber Office is located at 901 East Currahee Street in Toccoa, Georgia. It is on the corner of Currahee Street (Highway 123) and Big A Road (Highway 17 A). Hours of operation are 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The phone number is (706) 886-2132, FAX (706) 886-2133 and email: