Although it starts east of I-85, Georgia State Road 60's most scenic area begins at the end of Georgia 400 and runs for 52 miles to Georgia 515, the Georgia Mountain Parkway. Route 60 travels alongside the Chestatee River (one of the major contributors to Lake Lanier before skirting the town of Dahlonega. After climbing into the highlands north of Dahlonega it crosses the Appalachian Trail at Woody Gap just before reaching the town of Suches. From here it gradually drops as the land near the highway turns into farmland before coming to the four-lane Georgia Mountain Parkway just past Morganton, Georgia. In between Dahlonega and Blue Ridge the drive passes through some great hiking, canoeing and travel sites while giving drivers some excellent scenic mountain views.
Georgia 400 to Dahlonega
With the Chestatee River running alongside the road, State Road 60 offers some great canoeing. One normal takeout is the Chestatee River Park on the left about 0.6 miles after you turn on SR 60 from Georgia 400. There are various put-ins further upstream. If you don't have a canoe or kayak, our friends at Appalachian Outfitters can provide everything you need to float or paddle on the Chestatee River, just under 3.0 miles past the park.
At 5.5 miles Business 60 goes straight ahead to Dahlonega while Bypass 60 goes right. We love the city, and our recommendation is to go through downtown. The city of Dahlonega is county seat of Lumpkin County and center of the Georgia Gold Rush. The original courthouse is now the Dahlonega Gold Museum and the city once had one of the few mints in the United States outside of Philadelphia. The Smith House is renown for its "family-style" fare and a mine shaft in the basement.
North of Dahlonega
Bypass 60 and Business 60 rejoin at mile 9.9, using the Business 60 route. Follow the road to the left (north) for 4.7 miles to Stonepile Gap. The gap gets its name from the pile of stone preserved in the intersection. According to legend, this is the burial site for Trahlyta, a beautiful Indian maiden who lived on Cedar Mountain and travelers are beckoned to add a stone as they pass by. The lake at the center of Vogel State Park is named in Trahlyta's honor.
North of Stonepile Gap the road climbs Cedar Mountain then continues upward on the side of Cedar Ridge for 3.7 miles to Dockery Lake Road. This leads to a picnic, camping and fishing area known as Dockery Lake. A 1.0 Lakeshore Trail loops the lake and allows access to the various fishing "holes" around the lake. Dockery Lake Trail is a 2.6 mile access trail to the Appalachian Trail.
Woody Gap, named for U. S. Forest Ranger Arthur Woody's family, is at 19.3 miles. The Appalachian Trail crosses Georgia 60 here with parking on either side of the road. For day-hikers head east on the trail to see some pretty spectacular views along the AT Woody Gap to Neels Gap, especially from Big Cedar Mountain.
After Woody Gap comes Woody Lake, a small mountain tarn that is picturesque in the fall (mid-October). For parking, turn left and park on Cooper Gap Road, just after the lake becomes visible. You can also continue down this road for additional parking for the AT Springer Mountain to Woody Gap.
Woody Lake is part of the village of Suches, Georgia, a small mountain community. In Suches Route 180 ends at Georgia 60. This route goes to Lake Winfield Scott, home of the Slaughter Creek Trail and Jarrard Gap Trail, which provide access to the Appalachian Trail, Vogel State Park and Georgia's highpoint, Brasstown Bald
North to Morganton
Traveling north on Georgia 60 past Trahlyta's grave in Stonepile Gap the road enters its most remote area, deep in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Popular Coopers Creek Recreation Area featuring hiking, camping, fishing and hunting and can be reached via Coopers Creek Road at 29.5 miles or at 32.7 miles. Coopers Creek campground has reasonably priced, quiet campsites available on a first come, first served basis. The Mill Shoals Trail allows access from the campground to the Yellow Mountain Trail, the Coopers Creek Trail and the Shope Gap Trail, which can be hiked to Mulky Gap.
At 36.4 miles the combined Benton MacKaye Trail and the Duncan Ridge Trail cross Georgia 60 and mark the end of the remote stretch of road. Still in the Chattahoochee National Forest the road now runs along creek beds and has fewer curves. By the time you reach the bridge over Skeenah Creek at 37.2 miles farms dot the landscape on either side of the road.
Crossing the Benton MacKaye at 40.6, the road reaches Morganton at 48.2 miles. Once the county seat of Fannin County, when the railroad bypassed Morganton the county seat was moved to Blue Ridge, Georgia. In Morganton the route makes a well-marked left-right before coming to a right turn at 49.7 miles. Follow this to the Georgia Mountain Parkway.
Georgia Scenic Drives
From the mountains to the sea we find the prettiest drives on backroads
AT Springer Mountain to Woody Gap
AT Woody Gap to Neels Gap
Chattahoochee National Forest
Dahlonega Gold Museum
Dockery Lake Trail
Georgia Gold Rush
Georgia Mountain Parkway
Jarrard Gap Trail
Lake Winfield Scott
Slaughter Creek Trail
The Smith House
Vogel State Park
Yellow Mountain Trail