Murphy is a small town in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, nestled between Tennessee on its northern and western borders, and Georgia on its southern. It’s surrounded by the Nantahala National Forest, and parts of the Hiwassee and Valley Rivers both run through it. A somewhat economically depressed area, it’s rich in history, natural resources and recreational opportunities, and relies on tourism to bolster its economy. The town is a great place to visit with your fur-baby because of its proximity to hiking, camping and exploring spots. It’s also a good place to be if your pup becomes ill or injured: there are at least 5 veterinarians in Murphy, including a mobile veterinary service, that will get Fido up and wagging again!
The diamond in Murphy’s crown is Konehete Park, a large expanse of grass with playing fields, a playground and a pool for the human members of the family, and lots of playing room for your leashed fur-pup. But the real attraction for Fido is the Murphy River Walk and Canoe Trail, which has trailheads and parking at the park as well as on several streets surrounding it, so access is easy. With a round-trip distance of about 3 miles, the trail follows the Hiwassee and Valley Rivers, and curves around and through the historic downtown. Footbridges and elevated boardwalks cross the wet areas, and there are pawsome swings under some trees from which you can contemplate the view with your fur-buddy by your side. There are picnic areas with tables and grills along the walk.
You don’t have to go far to find adventure in and around Murphy!
Arising out of the Murphy Town Center neighborhood is the pet-friendly Piny Knob Trail System for hiking and mountain biking! The system is a work in progress as volunteers clear and groom the natural dirt trails with an eye to a total of 23 miles on the tract’s 700 acres, but 8 miles over 4 trails are already open and marked. The trails loop and intersect, and their junctions have convenient signage pointing the way. A stream with a small waterfall races down a section next to the trail, and wooden footbridges span across the wet areas and steep dips. Keep an eye out for the wildlife that make this their home, and remember to keep your fur-pup leashed for safety. The terrain is hilly, so keep that in mind when you and Fido set out. Arf!
The pet-friendly Nantahala National Forest is divided into 3 districts, and the 158,000-acre Tusquitee Ranger District has its headquarters in this Murphy neighborhood. Rivers and lakes provide plenty of paddling and other water-based recreation, and a leashed pooch is welcome to swim with you! The Tusquitee District also features the Hanging Dog Recreation Area, which offers year-round access to Hiawassee Lake with its 180-mile shore, picnic tables overlooking the lake and a large picnic shelter that provide pawtastic places to share a meal or snack. Hike the Ramsey-Bluff Trail System, a moderately tough 8 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails. When you’re finished adventuring with Fido for the day, head over to one of Murphy’s dog-friendly restaurants, all of which offer outdoor tables! Murphy’s Chophouse features a large patio, and bowls of water are provided for thirsty pets. The menu is eclectic American fare including sandwiches, steaks, chicken and seafood. Or try the Valley River Brewery and Eatery for their pub-style fare! Bone Appetite!
This neighborhood of Murphy is home to the Cherokee Lake Recreation Area, a quiet and serene park that features a dam, which you can walk across with your fur-buddy and go for a swim on the other side. The path itself is relatively short and very easy, and there is lots of space to throw down a blanket and have a relaxing sit with your pooch. Picnic tables and grills are scattered around the area, many handicapped accessible, and there is also a large shelter for dining or getting out of the weather. A boardwalk and pier stretch over the lake, and parking is plentiful, with a restroom nearby. Woofderful!
short distance to the east from Murphy is
the town of Hayesville, and its town center is host to the Clay County Recreation
Park. This park has something for everyone, including
Fido, who must be on a leashed. For day-trippers, there are picnic areas and
pavilions with grills, swimming in Lake Chatuge, exploring the walking trails,
and the kiddos have a playground and playing fields to keep them busy. A
lakeside campground provides room for RV and tent camping, and there are
bathrooms and great views of the lake and surrounding forest. Birds and other
wildlife are frequent visitors to the park and the campground, so be sure to
keep your eyes and ears open!
It’s in this neighborhood of Hayesville where you’ll find the dog-friendly Chatuge Dam and Recreation Area, located just north of the Georgia state line. The dam on the Hiawassee River forms Chatuge Lake and the recreational area around it, and it’s a popular destination for locals and visitors alike for walks and runs. With ample parking and easy access, the stroll along the top of the dam features spectacular views both up- and downstream. Gravel trails lead up to the dam on both sides and meander through the woods and grass. A boat ramp provides access to the lake for folks who want to go for a paddle with their pups, too. This is a pawrfect place for a leisurely and lovely walk and a picnic!