No Place Like Home: The Shoals


Photo by Sarah Cochran

Many locals of Ellijay and the surrounding area have been visiting the Shoals for decades. This fairytale-esque landscape is perfect for all ages and is a great spot to spend the day outdoors. It is located roughly 45 minutes from Dahlonega and 30 minutes from Blue Ridge.

The trail to the Shoals is known as Blackberry Mountain Clear Creek Trail Head and has a small parking lot that can be found off of Blackberry Mountain Road just past the bridge. The Shoals is a part of the Rich Mountain Wildlife Area, and it is technically required that visitors have a valid hunting or fishing license or a Georgia Outdoor Recreational Pass. However, most locals and tourists visit without one. 

Photo by Sarah Cochran

The trail to the Shoals can be found at the parking lot. The hike down to the river is roughly ten minutes and very easy. Once out of the wood, the space opens up revealing the first shoal and a gentle rapid that can be tubed down. To the right, there is a small campsite area and a firepit. Past that is the second shoal where people can jump off of the rock face into the water.

The river can be crossed at many points, but the rock face on the other side is notorious for broken glass where people have thrown bottles. Even farther down, there is the third shoal that has two cave-like outcroppings. Beyond that, the Clear Creek river connects with the Cartecay that continues into downtown Ellijay.

“The locals have always done a great job at keeping it relatively clean, but with more and more people coming every year, it’s getting harder to do so,” says Ellijay native Hunter Smith.

The Shoals has grown in popularity among tourists in recent years, and as a result, there has been an increase in the amount of litter with the influx of people. Broken glass is also something to be watchful for when walking around barefooted.