A Walk to Remember
It was July 1970 when a little mountain town buried in the Blue Ridge Mountains suddenly woke up. A little man with a wire and a balancing pole arrived, and so did thousands more to catch a glimpse of what he was about to do. He stretched the wire across a gorge, invited the world to come watch, and they did. It was 65-year-old Karl Wallenda of Flying Wallenda fame who performed a skywalk with an estimated 30,000 people holding their breath. It took him 19 minutes to cross the 1,200-foot wide, 750-foot deep gorge. And when he did two headstands, well, the crowd roared and held their breath simultaneously.
This year marks the 45th anniversary of Karl Wallenda's historic walk across Tallulah Falls Gorge in Northeast Georgia, and plans were underway for his grandson Nik to follow in his grandfather's footsteps around the anniversary date of July 18. However, it became obvious that this wasn't the right time when earlier in the year, Nik called off the summer skywalk.
He has every "intent of returning to the gorge when things fall into place," he promises.
Even though Nik Wallenda won't walk the skywalk this year, it doesn't lessen the community's celebration of this historic event. For once upon a time, Karl Wallenda thought he could, and then he did.
One of the best views of the gorge is from the Tallulah Point Overlook, located on the old portion of Highway 441. Today, the bypass skirts past this historic landmark. Take a detour and don't miss one of the best views. While you're there, enjoy the crafts of local artisans while your sipping a Coke in a bottle.
a conversation with Nik Wallenda
There's lots to do in the hills of Georgia
See and Stay
Tight-rope walkers have crossed its gorge. Rim trails summon hikers from around the world. Mountain bikers experience the 10-mile trail. If you obtain a permit (not available during water releases), you can access the gorge floor. And if you're like me, you'll enjoy the Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center where the history of Northeast Georgia is on display, including remembrances of Wallenda's walk. For those with tons of courage, there's even tightrope lessons five times a year where they will take you to the site of Wallenda's walk and teach you the rules of walking a slackline. Don't miss Tallulah Gorge State Park. Located off the Highway 441 ByPass.
Tallulah Point Overlook
Take the historic Highway 441 and in the sharp curve, you'll find the heart of the gorge still beating. It stirs with the crafts of local artisans while continuing to offer the best view of the gorge. Get a touch of local flair at the Overlook.
Black Rock Mountain State Park & Foxfire museum
Head north through Clayton and discover Black Rock Mountain State Park, Georgia's highest state park. There's a spectacular overlook at top, just perfect for watching the sunset. On the way up the winding road, make a stop at the Foxfire Museum and Heritage Center where yesterday lives. It promotes a "sense of place and appreciation of local people, community, and culture."
The village has carefully restored many older structures, even crafting new ones from bits and pieces they have rescued from remnants found from torn down or falling down buildings. They use each item - whether a building or a trough - as an educational tool. The self-guided tour allows you to peer into life as it was in the 1800s. Wind through the trails, up the inclines, see farm implements, a granary, a small church and even a replica of a moonshine still reproduced by one of the legends of Rabun County - this village tells the story of the families of North Georgia. Many of the relics at the museum are donated by people in the community.
Lake Rabun Hotel
Relax. Sit and savor. Enjoy the quiet. And when you're ready for a Southern farm-to-table meal (whether it be breakfast, brunch or dinner), simply walk downstairs and the chef will be waiting for you. Serenity doesn't get much better than Lake Rabun Hotel. Many prefer this spot because it's far away from the crowds along the curves of a mountain road, miles from main street, from just about everything. Located in the artful town of Lakemont, it is a piece of rustic heaven. And when you think it can't get any better, book a session at the spa, reserve your spot on the rapids. grab a zipline, or sit out on the porch and experience . . . nothing or maybe a nudge from the Lake Rabun kitty.
Goats on the Roof . . . literally
You can't miss this glowing yellow and red beacon alongside Highway 441. Goats on the Roof has been a family stop for years, featuring crafts, local flavors, and yes, goats on the roof. No lie! There's a legend concerning these goats that only Rabun County's goat whisperer could dispense. His conclusion: NOT Santa Claus Reindeer Complex but alien descendants watching the skies for signs. They haven't seen any magical signs yet, so they continue to roam the roof, begging for crumbs from visitors who can't get enough of these aliens.
it's a chuck wagon . . . or Dillard House . . . blowout!
There usually aren't cowboys hanging around Clayton and Rabun County, but when you visit, you just might get lucky. The American Chuck Wagon Association pitches tents all over the country just to see who can combine five ingredients and make the best vittles. If they aren't there to serve up some good homemade grub, check out The Dillard House in Dillard, a signature Southern experience. Just sit down and servers bring you a little of everything - fried chicken, ribs, cabbage casserole (absolutely incredible), relishes and preserves - until you can't hold anymore. There are cottages and rooms for overnight stay, but it's the restaurant that brings people back time and again.
For more information on Rabun County, Clayton and surrounding communities, visit Explore Rabun.