The Chattooga River Ranger District covers the eastern third of the Chattahoochee National Forest in northern Georgia, comprising 261,035 acres. It includes more than 13,650 acres over two designated wilderness areas, and is administered by the US Forest Service. The Chattooga River RD includes Rabun Bald, which at 4,696′ is Georgia’s second-highest mountain. It’s also home to the headwaters of the Chattahoochee River, and to the western banks of the only federally-designated Wild & Scenic River in Georgia, the Chattooga.
This area is primarily hardwood forest, including spruce and fir. Natural water sources are plentiful, including lakes, rivers, and waterfalls. It’s a native habitat to such plant species as pogonia and the rare Oconee Bell, and home to many types of wildlife, from black bear and wild boar to bog turtles and ruffed grouse.
A wide variety of recreational and other activities are available, including: 15 established campgrounds, miles of hiking, equestrian, and OHV trails, including a short section of the Appalachian Trail, fishing, hunting, multiple day use areas, and some of the best whitewater opportunities in the country. I drove through the district, stopping to admire the views at Popcorn Overlook in late April, 2017.
Fees on the District vary according to the activity; with many areas free to access. Campgrounds range from $8 to $69/night, depending on the group size and amenities. Check the forest website or with the District’s Ranger Office, which is near Lakemont, GA, for the most current information regarding fees, and also closures and alerts.
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