Monday, September 29, 2008
Wildcat Creek Has A Lot To Offer
Generations of families and visitors to the north Georgia mountains have spent their summer days cooling off at the rock slide at Wildcat Creek pictured above. Located between Helen and Clayton in the Lake Burton area, Wildcat Creek is a popular destination for outdoor fun and adventure. Access to Wildcat Creek is gained by following the stream on USFS 26 within the Lake Burton Wildlife Management Area to the two camping areas and eventually to Addis Gap.
When trout season opens in the spring, fishermen descend on the creek in droves, as Wildcat is heavily stocked before and during the season with rainbow and brown trout from the nearby Lake Burton Fish Hatchery.
When I took the photo above I was able to talk with the fellow from the Georgia DNR who was catapulting 9-12" rainbow trout from tanks on the back of his truck into the creek. He told me that Wildcat Creek receives additional "bonus" stockings in the heat of summer because the water temperature remains cold enough to keep the trout healthy-which is good news for both the trout and the folks using the creek to cool off. I see trout fishermen on the creek just about every time I visit it during the season, but once the first couple of weeks of the season has passed the crowd does tend to dwindle and it becomes easier to find a fishing spot that offers some solitude.
The two campgrounds situated along the creek are popular destinations during the summer. The first campground, after you cross the second bridge on USFS 26, is used a bit more and can fill up on the weekends. Campground #2, located a mile past the first, is used a little less and can be worth the extra distance back into the forest. These campgrounds do not have showers or available drinking water. Sanitary pit toilet facilities are located at each campground.
Campsites are first come/first serve, no reservations can be made. The $8 per night camping fee is deposited in collection boxes inside the campground-so correct change is a good idea (I never seem to remember this). I talked to some of the campers on my last visit and they told me the August nights had been getting down into the 50s and the fishing was fantastic.
For hikers, the Appalachian Trail can be accessed at Addis Gap, a mile past Campground #2. The trail runs through the Tray Mountain Wilderness from there and access to numerous other trails in the area.
Wildcat Creek does indeed offer much in the way of outdoor activities, and the stream and the forest it runs through are among the most scenic in the north Georgia mountains. If relaxing is your top priority, this is a prime spot for that as well. The sounds from the tumbling water never seem too far away and it isn't hard to find great spots to take some photos or read a good book. Wildcat Creek is not hard to find-Forest Road 26 (also known as W. Wildcat Rd) leaves Ga Hwy 197 to the west 22 miles north of Clarkesville, just north of LaPrade's Marina..and not far south of Moccasin Creek State Park and the Lake Burton Fish Hatchery.