The area around the Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway features colors for all seasons. Whether a deep summer green or an exploding autumn red and yellow, this scenic drive is covered with slender pines, towering hardwoods, beautiful rhododendrons, and vibrant wildflowers. Hidden beneath the forest's canopy, gentle streams wander down mountain sides and tumble down spectacular waterfalls on their journey to the sea. Dukes Creek Falls, High Shoals Creek Falls, and nearby Anna Ruby Falls offer dramatic examples of the power of nature.
The Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway hosts attractions for viewing from afar or experiencing first-hand. The following itinerary offers a sampling of what the byway has to offer.
Helen: To begin your journey fully equipped with maps, brochures, and food and drink, stop at the charming town of Helen, just two miles before officially reaching the byway. Originally this area was a vibrant center of the indigenous Cherokee culture. When gold was discovered in the area in 1828, thousands of Europeans flooded the region. Gold mining and then the timber industry flourished until the mid-20th century. In the 1960s the village once again reinvented itself, this time as a quaint Bavarian hamlet.
Smithgall Woods-Dukes Creek Conservation Area: Formerly a private estate, this conservation area has been described as being home to one of North Georgia's best trout streams as well as nature trails and wildlife viewing stands.
Dukes Creek Falls: Leaving the Smithgall Woods-Dukes Creek Conservation Area, turn north on State Route 348 for a half-mile to Dukes Hollow Road and follow the signs to Dukes Creek Falls. The falls are actually on Davis Creek before it joins Dukes Creek. Dropping 250 feet down a steep granite canyon, Dukes Creek Falls is a spectacular sight. A wheelchair-accessible trail from the parking lot to observation platforms gives an overview of the falls. Hikers can continue down Dukes Creek Gorge to the base of the falls for an up-close experience.
Raven Cliff Falls: Returning to State Route 348, continue another 2.5 miles north. Parking is available along the left side of the road. Follow the signs marking the trail to Raven Cliff Falls. Tumbling a total of 100 feet down Dodd Creek, Raven Cliff Falls is actually a series of three splendid waterfalls. The middle section flows through a split in a solid rock outcropping. Other waterfalls are found on the creek with the largest having a drop of 70 feet. The surrounding wilderness, measuring more than 9,100 acres, is federally protected.
Brasstown Bald: Brasstown Bald is Georgia's highest mountain. At 4,784 feet above sea level, this vantage point offers a commanding 360-degree view.
High Shoals Creek Falls Scenic Area: Near the intersection of State Routes 17/75 and 180, Forest Service Road 283 leads visitors through the Swallow Creek Wildlife Management Area to the High Shoals Creek Falls Scenic Area. A 1.25-mile trail takes visitors down to the High Shoals Creek Falls and Blue Hole Falls. It is highly recommended that the falls be
Smith Creek: From State Route 17/75, turn left on State Route 356 for 1.5 miles, and then left at the sign for Anna Ruby Falls. Follow this road for 3.5 miles to the parking area. Fed by underground springs, rain, and snow, Curtis Creek and York Creek thunder down Tray Mountain to form Smith Creek. Paths and trails traverse the area. Lion's Eye Trail gives people with visual impairments the opportunity to experience the Smith Creek environment with Braille signs.
Drivers are treated to a tremendous view of the surrounding landscape from atop Georgia's highest point, Brasstown Bald. It's a fitting summit to a tour of the majestic green highlands along the Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway.
Find more useful information related to Georgia's Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway:
- Helen: Find out what there is to do in this city at the mouth of Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway.
- Scenic Drives: Are you interested in scenic drives beyond Georgia? Here are more than 100 scenic drives throughout the United States.
- How to Drive Economically: Fuel economy is a major concern when you're on a driving trip. Learn how to get better gas mileage.