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I am currently a cosmetologist here in Atlanta and absolutely love animals! I grew up on a farm so I’ve always grown up with animals and always had a dog, I currently have a little Weimaraner pup named Cleo! She is my best friend! I’ve dog sat for all of my friends and family!
means "beautiful" in the language of the Cherokee, and this lovely town in the North Georgia hills certainly deserves its name. The Stephens County seat, Toccoa has plenty to do while keeping its friendly small-town spirit. Grab a leash and take Spot out for a stroll on the downtown sidewalks; don't forget to give your neighbors a "hey, ya'll" while Spot gives them a sniff.
The Toccoa pawpulation is a mix of North Georgia families, retirees enjoying Lake Hartwell, and college students from Toccoa Falls College, just enough variety to keep things interesting. The nearest mid-sized cities are each 40 miles away — Gainesville, GA, and Anderson, SC — so shopping and dining are within reach, but your peace and quiet are safe. Depending on the city’s infamous traffic, downtown Atlanta is about a 90-minute drive, reasonable for an occasional day enjoying the skyline from Piedmont Park or hanging out on a dog-friendly patio at one of hundreds of restaurants and breweries.
Surrounded on three sides by the Chattahoochee National Forest, Toccoa has vast natural beauty and a number of challenging trails nearby. Small city parks offer a quick weekday workout, too. Emory Johnson Park on Whitman Street features ballfields and war memorials, and just a few blocks away is a short walking trail at the Stephens County Recreation Department. You can even loop your way into a sweat on the paths around the lovely Stephens County Courthouse. Paul Anderson Memorial Park has some paved walking paths and shady lawns on the north edge of downtown, but the nature trails at Henderson Falls Park give the most scenic opportunity for a lengthy in-town walk.
The campus of Toccoa Falls College, a small private institution known for its seminary, is inside Toccoa city limits but set apart from downtown. For a small admission fee that helps support upkeep, you and your on-leash buddy can explore the campus and a short hiking trail to the city's main attraction: the stunning 186-foot Toccoa Falls. This sheer-drop waterfall is higher even than Niagra, and the trail to reach it is wheelchair and stroller accessible. The area has a sad history, though. In 1977, the dam above the falls broke during the night, drowning 39 students, staff, and family members on the campus below in the early morning of November 6. In spite of that somber past, visitors throng to enjoy the spectacular beauty of the falls, and Spot will love it, too.
As fans of the book or HBO miniseries Band of Brothers already know, Camp Toccoa at Currahee Mountain just outside of town was an important training site in the buildup to the D-Day invasion. Take your pup along for a walk through time as you visit the location of these crucial events. The three-mile up, three-mile back journey up Currahee Mountain was a standard training exercise for the parachute infantrymen who trained there, also depicted in Saving Private Ryan and Dirty Dozen. That trek is now the Col. Robert F. Sink Trail. The trail marker was contributed by Tom Hanks, but don't expect any celebrity sightings: this remote location off a dirt road is best reached with good directions (available on the Toccoa city website). Nearby is the Camp Toccoa Military Monument on the site of the old camp.
Let's hope Spot isn't afraid of heights. Tallulah Gorge State Park is only 18 miles from Taccoa, and it offers hiking around the rim of this 2-mile long, 1,000-foot deep canyon, one of the most dramatic in the eastern US. The rim trail includes postcard-worthy views of Bridal Veil Falls, Oceana Falls, and Cascade Falls. Note that dogs aren't allowed Sliding Rock Trail, gorge floor, or Hurricane Falls bridge staircase, and that's for their own protection on this steep terrain. That's okay: pups are welcome on the other spectacular trails near Tallulah Falls, though. The Panther Creek Falls Trail is an 11-mile moderately difficult trail, and a 7-mile roundtrip from the parking area near unincorporated Turnerville takes you to another beautiful waterfall.
Tugaloo State Park has a funny name, but the 4 miles of hiking trails are serious business. A water-dog's dream, the park is a 400 acres peninsula extending out into the 55,000-acre Lake Hartwell. So, even though the trail network extends into every corner of the park, there's always a view of the water. Dog-friendly waterfront camping is available, too. The nearby town of Lavonia has some amenities if you get tired of ruff-ing it. J. Peters Grill in the old-fashioned downtown shopping district gives you an excuse to window shop for a while. If you're not ready to leave the lakeside, though, try Catfish Johnny's at Harbor Light Marina for a dog-friendly outdoor table with a Hartwell view.
While it's a drag that the closest off-leash dog park is 17 miles from Toccoa, it's fantastic that the park is located in adorable Cornelia. This fenced dog run on the western edge of Cornelia City Park is free to the public, great for relaxing while your buddy frisks with his new doggy friends. Join in the exercise back on leash on the one-mile roundtrip paved walking trail. When you're parked out, head a few blocks southwest to Main Street for a stroll through the historic downtown commercial district. Make sure you stop by the railroad depot to sniff out the gigantic apple statue gifted to the town by the Southern Railway in 1925 to honor its apple-producing heritage. Let's be honest, how many 5,200-pound steel apples are you really going to see in your life?
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