Two years after Gilmer County was formed, Ellijay became the county seat for government. Ellijay is located where two rivers, Ellijay and Cartecay, join to create the Coosawattee River. The river extends all the way to the 3,200-acre Carters Lake, which is a popular state recreation area noted for being the largest rock dam east of the Mississippi River. Other noteworthy natural amenities in the immediate area include the Chattahoochee National Forest, Springer Mountain and Rich Mountain, which rises to as high as 4,081 feet.
Springer Mountain is significant because it marks the beginning, or end depending on which direction you are heading, of the Appalachian Trail. The terrain here is very welcoming for hikers and mountain bikers of all levels, making it an attractive place for many locals to frequent. Rich Mountain is a bit more rugged, but makes for a wonderful place to hunt, camp and fish the many streams and waterways that flow to the valley below.
Attractions in Gilmer County range from the culturally rich and historic to modern day thrills. Fort Mountain is located along Highway 52 West and is famous for its prehistoric rock formations. Cheiftain's Trail is another outdoor adventure experience where tours of local Native American sites are both awe-inspiring and educational. Apple Orchard Alley is home to 11 of the Gilmer's 18 orchards. Here, the orchards are spread across the picturesque valley along state highway 52, which leads to Fort Mountain. For the city dweller, downtown Ellijay is the perfect district to spend the day shopping and spending time with friends and family. The quaint square is filled with historic buildings, antique, craft and gift shops, and eateries of all kinds.
Once considered small towns set afar from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan living, the communities of Ellijay, East Ellijay and Cherry Log are slowly evolving into self-sufficient towns with everything from residential neighborhoods to retail areas and some commercial zoning. Today, more than 30,000 people live in Gilmer County, a more than 12% population increase since 2004. This growth has translated into more investment into public works, beautification projects and infrastructure upgrades to schools, hospitals, libraries and other public facilities.
The public school system in Gilmer County is comprised of one primary school (K-2), three elementary schools, one middle school and one high school. In regards to healthcare, the North Georgia Medical Center operates a 50-bed hospital, as well as a 100-bed nursing home. Both the Genesis Behavioral Health Care Services and a satellite clinic of the Georgia Highlands Center are located in Ellijay while several smaller clinics and disease detection centers are located near Ellijay and East Ellijay.
Residents in these parts definitely prefer quiet and peaceful nights to the bright lights of a big city. Still, locals here are not deprived of the many amenities and attractions that make living in a big city so appealing. As the region continues to grow, so will the towns of Ellijay, East Ellijay and Cherry Log. So, if you are considering a move to North Georgia consider the possibility of living in any one of these three Gilmer County towns. Once you do, you'll discover an amazing recreational lifestyle that keeps the locals feeling young and looking great.
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