Brasstown Bald in Hiawassee, Georgia. Photo by Tom Stone
Guide to Hiawassee
Famous as the home of Georgia's highest peak, Brasstown Bald, Hiawassee is full of gorgeous mountain scenery and recreation opportunities. Follow these tips for things to do, places to stay, great restaurants and must-see events.
Set in the Appalachian Mountains, the town of Hiawassee was originally inhabited by Cherokee tribes. It is located near the Appalachian and Southern Highroads trails. Lake Chatuge is another beloved landmark with countless recreation opportunities, along with the trout fishing favorite, the Hiawassee River. Nearby, you can also indulge in some of the state’s best wineries and, come fall, see the changing color of the leaves.
Things to Do
Hiawassee is one of Georgia’s most beautiful areas, surrounded by mountains and lakes. Lake Chatuge is a TVA lake with more than 100 miles of shoreline. Visitors can enjoy boating, fishing, waterskiing, swimming and camping.
The 18-acre Bell Mountain Park and Historical Site became a public park in 2016 and is a popular destination for 360-degree views of the surrounding area from 3,000 feet above sea level.
Wander the paths at Hamilton Gardens at Lake Chatuge, a sprawling botanical garden with more than 3,000 plants, including dogwood, native azaleas, wildflowers, trillium and rhododendron. In fact, the more than 400 varieties of rhododendron make it the largest collection in the state.
High Shoals Falls
One of the area’s most stunning waterfalls is High Shoals Falls, five falls in one area that have a total vertical drop of 300 feet. Accessible by the 1.2-mile High Shoals Trail, there are observation decks along the way.
Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds
Come for one of the many events at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, including the Georgia Mountain Fair, the Georgia Mountain Roots & Music Festival, the Georgia Mountain Fall Festival and Georgia's Official State Fiddler's Convention. Located along the lake, the grounds have camping facilities and multiple venues.
Georgia’s highest peak, Brasstown Bald, is a must-see at over 4,000 feet and surrounded by the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest. On clear days, visitors can see four states from the observation deck. There’s also a museum about the area, and access by shuttle bus and hiking trails.
ArtWorks Gallery and Gifts
Owned and operated by the Mountain Regional Arts and Crafts Guild, ArtWorks Gallery and Gifts features the work of 45 regional artists and craftsmen. A different artist’s work is highlighted every month, and the center hosts art classes.
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Places to Stay
The Ridges Resort on Lake Chatuge
Enjoy comfortable accommodations at The Ridges Resort on Lake Chatuge along with activities like horseback riding, boating, fishing and swimming. The resort has a marina with boat rentals, a fire pit, walking paths and sporting courts.
Chancey Hill Inn
Cozy up with friends and family during your stay in Hiawassee. Set in the heart of town, Chancey Hill Inn has five guest rooms, complete with private bathrooms, mini fridges with water and soda, and unrivaled views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Each is decorated in a different style, with some boasting spa tubs and fireplaces. Full breakfast is included daily.
Lake Chatuge Lodge
Set on the namesake lake, Lake Chatuge Lodge is a modern hotel with more than 100 guest rooms and conference rooms. Rooms have private patios and balconies in king or double queen bed arrangements. The stone fireplace in the lobby is a popular place to relax, and the lodge has onsite laundry and a fitness center.
Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds Campground
Bring your RV or tent for a stay at one of the 189 sites at Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds Campground. Most have lake views, and the fairgrounds have playgrounds, a boat ramp, sports courts and picnic tables.
Boundary Waters Resort & Marina
Rent a cabin for the night at Boundary Waters Resort & Marina, which have three bedrooms or a standard guest room. Bring your own boat or rent one from the marina to enjoy the lake.
The Retreat at Hiawassee River
Made up of 11 rustically furnished cabins, The Retreat at Hiawassee River is an ideal getaway on the Hiawassee River. The grounds have a fire pit, horseshoes, volleyball and a clubhouse to relax in.
Bald Mountain Camping Resort
Top-of-the-line RV sites are on offer at Bald Mountain Camping Resort, which has cable TV, wireless Internet, picnic tables, fire rings and mountain views. There are also cabin rentals for bigger groups.
Holiday Inn Express & Suites
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Hiawassee has all the amenities you look for in a hotel, including microwaves, refrigerators, coffee makers, complimentary continental breakfast and an indoor heated pool.
Hidden Valley Bed & Breakfast
Hidden Valley Bed & Breakfast welcomes guests like family with private entrances and bathrooms, satellite television, full breakfast, evening apple strudel for dessert, and a sauna and jacuzzi with massages for purchase.
Serenity Cove Lakefront Cabins
Take advantage of the three-bedroom lake house and two-bedroom cabins at Serenity Cove Lakefront Cabins, which has fully furnished kitchens, fireplaces, grills, WiFi and porches with rocking chairs.
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Where to Eat
Marina Station on Lake Chatuge is a great place to relax after a day on the lake with shared appetizers, sandwiches, entrees and burgers. There’s a full bar, outdoor dining and live music on weekends.
The Oaks Lakeside Kitchen
Located at The Ridges Resort, The Oaks Lakeside Kitchen is open for breakfast. There’s also a dock for boaters.
Hawg Wild BBQ & Catfish House
Chow down at some of the area’s best eateries. Hawg Wild BBQ & Catfish House serves Carolina and Lexington-style barbecue, including ribs, chicken and brisket. Choose from various sauces and sides.
Sundance Grill has been around for more than 20 years, serving breakfast through the afternoon, as well as lunch and dinner.
Open for more than 40 years, Deer Lodge serves hearty portions of burgers, steaks, seafood and other American favorites. Open Thursday to Sunday for dinner, they only take cash and checks, so come prepared.
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Plan your visit around Hiawassee’s annual events.
Appalachian Brew, Stew & Que
Bring your appetite to the Appalachian Brew, Stew & Que in October, which features tastings from more than 20 craft breweries from Georgia and North Carolina, as well as food tents, live music and a showing of the Georgia-Florida football game.
Georgia Mountain Fall Festival
Georgia Mountain Fall Festival is a nine-day event in October featuring arts and crafts vendors, demonstrations, musical performances, and the state fiddlers’ convention. It won't be held in 2020, but look forward to its return in 2021!
Dailey & Vincent Landfest
In the same vein, Dailey & Vincent Landfest in September, organized by the Nashville duo, celebrates country and bluegrass music. Look for its return in 2021.