Chattahoochee Headwaters

Chattahoochee Headwaters

Approximate size: 1,765 acres
Old-growth known: 0 acres

Before it provides an essential of life for millions of people, before it waters fields, before it carries tubing tourists through Helen, the Chattahoochee River flows through its eponymous National Forest. The current bounces off little cliffs, divides around rocks, and saturates fallen logs, but it never languishes behind a dam. The headwaters of the Chattahoochee are wild.

The river gathers strength as is pours down through the Mark Trail Wilderness and slides past Upper Chattahoochee River Campground. Then it starts a 5.3-mile segment between Forest Service roads where the river cuts its way through a twisting mountain gorge. Rock cribbing and an occasional lost rail testify to the railroad that snaked is way through the gorge sometime between 1912 and the late 1920s to extract timber along the river. Since then, anglers have turned the railroad grade into an unofficial trail that makes easy work of the rugged terrain. Otherwise, few people see this section of river. The area’s forests have remained untouched since that initial cut and grown back in white pines, tulip poplar, black birch and a wealth of
other hardwoods. Dark rhododendrons overhang the clear trout pools. The gorge provides the best opportunity for another Wild and Scenic River designation in north Georgia.
Currently the Chattooga River is the only river in Georgia with that permanent protection. The headwaters of the Chattahoochee certainly live up to the name and spirit of the designation, and the namesake of the National Forest deserves that protection.

Help us protect this 16,000-acre oasis of waterfalls, old-growth, rare species, panoramic views, and world-class trails.


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