TUGALOO BEND HERITAGE SITE By Kitty Stratton

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TUGALOO BEND HERITAGE SITE

By Kitty Stratton

After a week of freezing temperatures and snow in January, Northeast Georgia was blessed with a day of clear skies and warm sunshine.  I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon taking a tour of the Tugaloo Corridor area in Stephens County.  My tour guide was Joe Ferguson, Chairman of the Stephens County Foundation.

We visited many sites in the Tugaloo Corridor between historic Traveler’s Rest site and Yonah Dam, but the main area of interest on this particular day was the Tugaloo Bend Heritage Site.

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Tugaloo Bend Heritage Site opened to the public beginning March 1st 2014, and is open from 8:30am to 5pm Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and from 1pm to 5pm on Sunday afternoons.  Groups can be scheduled by appointment. Volunteers will be available to orientate visitors to the different trails available. Amenities include a handicapped accessible nature trail, restrooms, a classroom pavilion and parking lot.

The highlight of my visit to Tugaloo Bend Heritage Site was hiking the approximately 1 mile loop River Trail that can be accessed by a short walk from the parking lot past a wetland area with an active beaver dam into a quiet & peaceful pine forest.  The trail loops along the banks of the Tugaloo River which flows quietly beneath its surprisingly high banks.  The trail is well marked with green painted trail markers on trees and the terrain is flat and surprisingly dry.  For those of us who appreciate a less strenuous hike the trail is perfect.  Opportunities for viewing wildlife are plentiful, especially along the duck pond edge of the trail.

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PHOTO OF TUGALOO RIVER FROM THE RIVER TRAIL

After attending a volunteer orientation and excellent slide show in early January I came to learn that the vision of Tugaloo Bend and preservation of the Tugaloo Corridor had started back in the late 1990’s. Channing “Billy’ Hayes, Jr. was the owner of the 87 acre “Tugaloo Bend Farm” and had decided to sell this property but wanted to see the land preserved and protected from future development.  The main part of the story of the Tugaloo Bend Heritage Site starts with the creation of the Stephens County Foundation and a collective desire to give back to the community.

The vision of the foundation has been preservation, education and recreation.  The Tugaloo Bend Heritage site is for the community and area visitors.  Visitors will have an opportunity to come to a quiet and beautiful location to enjoy the natural surroundings and hike the different trails.

Directions to Tugaloo Bend Heritage site are as follows.  From Toccoa head north on Prather Bridge Road from the intersection of Tugalo St and Prather Bridge Rd (at the First Baptist Church) go 7 miles until you see the Tugaloo Bend Heritage site on your right.  The facility is located on Yonah Dam Rd which curves to the left just before you cross Prather Bridge into South Carolina.

For further information or to schedule a group outing contact, The Stephens County Foundation, 706 282 7636.   More information about the Tugaloo Corridor project can be found at http://www.tugaloocorridor.org

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