I Hear The Craziest Things: See Tate City and Hidden Waterfalls

Waterfalls are my zen. They’re my destination every time I flee my every day and the weather permits interior driving/walking. My Waterfall Challenges are off-road, in the middle of nowhere stuff, which makes seeing this on one of those dirt-road trips a bit of a surprise:

See Tate City

Get it?

There I was in the middle of some of the most beautiful and rugged country a car can drive to in the North Georgia mountains, just shy of the state border with North Carolina, when off to the side of the road someone had painted a big red barn with a spoof on the tourist trap signs all around the more popular Rock City.

In the middle of a field.

Next to a mushy dirt road that resembled a mud puddle that morning because it had been raining for days.

Cute,” I thought to myself. “The locals have a quirky sense of humor. I like that.” And off I went to find the obscure turn off where I could park Bessie and hike into the woods in search of interior falls several miles away.

Then, I saw this.

Tate City Pop 32

“Seriously?” I pulled out my local map. I’d been following hiking instructions for finding the forest service road and hadn’t really looked at the area on an honest-to-Dog map yet.


Sure enough, there was Tate City on the map. A real place, clearly where tourists were meant to be entertained as they passed through. I wondered what else they’d come up with to keep me distracted from my morning destination.

I didn’t have to wait long.

Tate City Voting Precinct

I was laughing myself blind at this point, tears rolling down my cheeks. Have I mentioned how much I love the area around Rabun and Clayton and Mountain City? So much so, we’re planning to one day buy a vacation home there that we want to retire to. Everything I was seeing, the beautiful landscape as far as the eye could see and the stand-up-comedy routine Tate City was waging against my not-awake-yet surliness, was convincing me that we’re making the right decision to spend more time there. As much time as we can spare.

And just in case I needed more entertainment to occupy my mind once my writng and hiking day was over, they threw me one last bone to string me along.

Tate City Mall


In the middle of nowhere.

What could be better than that ;o)

Well, a few missed turns down a few more rustic, one-car-wide dirt trails, parking in a rutted field, and a off-road, obscure, switching-back-several-times hike later, and I reached Denton Beach Falls.

Denton Branch Falls 2

 Yeah. This was even better.

Denton Branch Falls 4

No tourists here. Not even a spot on a map to mark its existence. You follow landmarks and search for obscure logging roads and wind you own way around obstacles that weren’t there when the waterfall trail was described in a book written over ten years ago. You have to want it badly to find it, like most everything else in life I’ve found worth the journey.

And I wanted this. 

Denton Branch Falls 5

You can climb out into the center of the pool beneath the falls, venturing across a boulder slide covered in fine green moss and splashed with even more delicate mist. You imagine you’re in a rain forest, a tropical paradise, a setting far more exotic and far away than Tate City.

And yet this destination is no more than an hour and a half from my house. A world and less than two hours away from the craziness of my very full life. Simplicity. Patience. Hard-fought-for peace.

Denton Beach is only the first of a string of even harder-to-reach falls that are my goal this spring. Each one will be a little harder and taking a little more effort and interior searching than the last to find. I can’t think of a better way to spend my down time than lacing up my hiking boots and seeing what other surprises await me, can you? Hunting magic. My whole life should be just this satisfying.

See Tate City, my friends ;o)

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One Response to “I Hear The Craziest Things: See Tate City and Hidden Waterfalls”

  1. Anita says:

    My Grandparents had a cabin up there for years. We would spend summers there. It is still one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been :)

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