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Dahlonega Georgia: Foothills of the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Site of the First Gold Rush in the U.S

Updated on March 20, 2011

Helen GA and Dahlonega Georgia...

In the northern part of Georgia, the foothills of the Appalachians start off kind of gradually, and there are many small towns or villages interspersed among the many hills and mountains in the area… Some of these small towns have become very popular tourist attractions over the years, including Helen GA, which has become one of the hotspots because of its unique makeover of the town into a Bavarian Alps atmosphere and Oktoberfest festival! This incredibly popular Oktoberfest event runs for six weeks in a row starting in September of every year, but the atmosphere sticks around for the whole year! Another great northern Georgia town is the site of the United States first gold rush, Dahlonega Georgia

Dahlonega Georgia is a quaint little town that is also very touristy with little shops and restaurants, where you can try some real southern cooking or purchase that hard to find antique or other item you may have been looking for. Dahlonega or Lumpkin County in general, is also the heart of the Georgia wine country. Don’t laugh at Georgia wines, having tried them myself I’ve found some really great ones in the bunch! They may not have the panache of California or overseas wines, but they are every bit as good! You can find some very good fruit wines among the bunch, and if you prefer a sweeter wine then you should definitely try some!

First Gold Rush in Dahlonega Georgia!

Dahlonega Georgia is also primarily known as the site of the nation’s first gold rush, which actually started before the California gold rush of 1949… The first gold was discovered way back in 1828, and miners started flocking to the area in droves hoping to strike it rich. There was money to be made too, and even though it was a hard way to earn a living, some actually did pretty well! But when the gold started petering out and the California gold rush began, the area slowly got back to normal with the much slower pace of the Appalachian Mountains… Today, the town has turned that history into a cultural and tourist attraction like no other in the area, with gold panning and mining exhibits, antique shops, fantastic bed and breakfast accommodations, theatre shows, and a smorgasbord of southern food at the ready!

The town claims to have the largest gold deposit east of the Mississippi underneath its land, and that may very well be true! There are still a few miners today who make their full time living from panning gold in the rivers and streams in the area. They may not be getting rich today, but it can be a relaxing and stress free life if you are looking for a simpler time… If you feel up to trying your hand at it yourself, you can sign up for any of several tourist experiences in Dahlonega Georgia where they will teach you the ropes before attempting it for yourself.

Tour de Georgia in Dahlonega Georgia...

The town is also a mecca for outdoor sports enthusiasts, including road and mountain biking, rock climbing, and hiking. In fact, the annual “Tour de Georgia” bike road race has their finish line in Dahlonega Georgia! This is a very popular event, and it grows in size every year. It may not quite be at the same level as the “Tour de France”, but a very exciting event none the less! There are also many awesome wildlife centers or preserves in the area, including the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve, Kangaroo Conservation Center, and the Wildlife Wonders Petting Zoo. In the fall, there are also many different corn mazes here, and if you’ve never done a corn maze you definitely need to give it a try! Just make sure to bring your walking shoes and patience with you…

The highest waterfall east of the Mississippi is also in this same area, Amicalola Falls, which is a fabulous park to visit! You’ll enjoy a few hours or even a day here, with some great hiking or biking trails… The Appalachian Trail also begins near here, in Springer Georgia, and it ends way up north in Maine! So if you’re interested in a six month test of endurance and stamina, give it a try! You will have to start your hike early, probably in March or April in order to finish the whole thing before the onset of bad weather again in the late fall. However, it’s a very popular trail and I’ve done the 70 mile stretch myself through the steepest part, in the Blue Ridge National Park. But that’s a story for another day!

Thars gold in them thar hills!

Dahlonega Georgia Outdoors...

There are 30 waterfalls within a short drive from the town, numerous hiking and biking trails, kayak and canoe streams and rivers, camping, golf, horseback riding, and trout fishing opportunities in abundance here! Dahlonega Georgia also has several festivals offered at various times of the year which feature hiking, biking, gold rushes, the arts, writing, music, and wine! They even have a two day rodeo in the summertime, which has become a very popular event in Georgia. If the night life is more your thing, they have some very popular bars and nightclubs that offer a variety of different experiences that you can enjoy, or give the historic Holly Theatre a try where you can see many different shows, acts, or singing sensations!

Dahlonega Georgia is definitely the place to go in the northeastern Georgia area, for a slower pace and lifestyle, and if you’re interested in spending some quality time with the family. Try your hand at gold mining, maybe a tasty dish at one of the restaurants, and spend at least a couple days at a nice bed and breakfast or cabin in the area… I know you’ll love it!

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