The City of Clayton is located near the northeast border of Georgia and it is the county seat of Rabun County. According to the U.S. Census in 2000, Clayton had a population of 2,019 and a total land area of 3.1 square miles. At an elevation of 1,929 ft. above sea level, Clayton is situated at the southern base of 3,640-ft. tall Black Rock Mountain, a few miles west of 3,000-ft. Screamer Mountain.
Several hundred years ago, three Native American Cherokee Indian trails intersected near what is now Clayton. Two of the trails evolved into main roads in Rabun County that eventually became U.S. Highway 441 and U.S. Highway 76. Europeans began to enter the region around 1760, and by the early 1800’s a small community had developed that was officially incorporated in 1823 as Claytonville. The city’s name was later shortened to Clayton in honor of Judge Augustin S. Clayton who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from 1831 to 1835.
Clayton is located near one of Georgia’s most popular natural attractions, Tallulah Gorge, which is more than 2 miles long and 1,000 ft. deep. During the early 1800’s, not many people knew about Tallulah Gorge but after the Tallulah Falls Railway was constructed in 1882, people from Atlanta were able to visit the area and Tallulah Gorge became North Georgia’s first tourist attraction. In 1993, the 2,689 acre Tallulah Gorge State Park was created by the State of Georgia in order to preserve this natural wonder for the public.
At the lower end of Tallulah Gorge before the Tallulah River flows into the Tugaloo River, there are six waterfalls. The tallest is the 96 ft. Hurricane Falls and the second tallest is 76 ft. Tempesta Falls. Oceana Falls is 50 ft. high, L’Eau d’Or Falls is 46 ft. high, Bridal Veil Falls is 17 ft. high and Lovers Leap Falls is 16 ft. high. Tallulah Gorge State Park also contains an 80 ft. high suspension bridge with spectacular views of Tallulah Gorge and the beautiful 63 acre Tallulah Lake.
Real estate in Clayton
The estimated median home value in Clayton was $163,504 in 2007, having appreciated from $91,500 in 2000. The cost of living index in Clayton is relatively low at 86.9 and the average population density is only 702 people per square mile. Homes and properties in Clayton are located in beautiful rural areas, and single family homes on ½ acre of land are available in the $100,000 to $200,000 range. Rustic vacation cabins, mountain cottages and private homes can be rented by the week or by the month through local real estate agents or directly from owners who advertise their properties in local newspapers and on the Internet.
Hotels located in Clayton include Days Inn of Clayton, Guesthouse Inn Clayton and the Hearth Old Clayton Inn. Clayton contains four shopping centers where people can find food stores, general merchandise stores and restaurants. Heading north out of Clayton on Highway 441, visitors can find intriguing restaurants serving North Georgia home style cooking such as Granny’s Kuntry Kitchen, Henry’s, Tomlin’s Bar-B-Q Stand and the Dillard House.
For those who prefer more rustic accommodations, Tallulah Gorge State Park has facilities for camping and picnicking. The Terrora Campground contains 50 campsites, 5 of which are for tents only. The other campsites have hookups for RV’s, camper vans and trailers. Tallulah Gorge State Park also has a Pioneer Campground and a backcountry Adirondack Shelter.
Visitors to Tallulah Gorge State Park can enjoy swimming at Tallulah Lake, which has a white sand beach and a bathhouse for public use. People can play tennis at the park’s tennis courts, enjoy bicycling on the 1.7-mile paved Rails to Trails pathway, or hike along more than 20 miles of nature trails. Fishing in Tallulah Lake is allowed with a fishing license, and whitewater rafting is available on the nearby Chattooga River.
The entire region around Clayton is an antique shopper’s dream because the mountainous area is so beautiful to drive through and there are many intriguing stores to visit. In North Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, serious antique shoppers can spend several days browsing through an increasing number of unique specialty shops and antique malls. Art stores throughout the area display the work of many well known painters, potters and sculptors along with a colorful array of Appalachian folk art.
Passing near Clayton, visitors can find one of Georgia’s most scenic drives along Lookout Mountain Parkway & Scenic Highway. Lookout Mountain Parkway & Scenic Highway passes over mountains and descends through verdant valleys with deep canyons and waterfalls. Drivers will pass through quaint towns and villages where they can shop or dine, and find state parks, national parks and nature preserves to explore. During August, shoppers come from all over Georgia to browse among more than 4,000 yard sale stalls and booths that have been set up along Lookout Mountain Parkway & Scenic Highway. This event is known as the World’s Longest Yard Sale.