North Georgia Mountains between Helen, Hiawassee, Blairsville

The following article originally appeared in Southern Travelers January/February Magazine

Enota Mountain Retreat

In the Cherokee language, the word enota means "the land that nourishes and nurtures." Long ago, when Native Americans planned a customary gathering, one of their designated meeting places was called enota. It is unlikely that any other name could accurately reflect the natural beauty and serenity of Enota Mountain Retreat, a gem imbedded in North Georgia's mountains. 

Tucked between Helen, Hiawassee, Blairsville and Young Harris at an elevation of 3,200 feet.  Enota is the highest privately held land in the state. The retreat, encircled by 750,000 acres of pristine Chattahoochee National Forest, is just 1.5 miles from the legendary Appalachian Trail. Georgia's tallest peak, at Brasstown Bald, is a nearby neighbor.

In previous times, the land's 60 wooded acres, four waterfalls, and have streams nourished the lives and ceremonial traditions of many people, including Cherokee Indians, early homesteaders, and YMCA campers.

Today, Enota is a nonprofit conservation facility and volunteer organization with a mission of land preservation for the benefit of present and future generations. 

According to Dr. Suan Freed, primary steward and trustee of Enota Mountain Retreat, all activities and policies at the facility are "based on the principle of not taking more from the earth than one gives back."

Eight years ago, Freed, a chiro­practic physician, met with local conservationists and visited the land at Enota. She committed herself to its preservation, and never lost her focus.  "I’ve always been an environmentalist, and I believe it's important to give back. We've made many improvements and it's been a huge challenge," recalls Freed, who accomplished most of the retreat's remodeling through her own and others' voluntary service.

Contemporary Comforts

Due to these group's efforts, Enota's present-day lodging options are varied and comfortable. Totally renovated and opened to the public four years ago, full-hookup RV campsites are equipped with concrete pads, wooden decks, fire pit grills and picnic tables. Most have 50-amp electrical service and are located on one of five streams, shaded by leafy trees.  Primitive and full-service tent and pop-up sites are also available.  Couples and families with children have privacy and solitude with separate camping areas.

Additional overnight options include 10 furnished one- and two-bedroom cabins  (some with Jacuzzis), private rooms on a stream and retreat facilities for up to 250 people.

Enota's remodeled, fully accessi­ble bathhouse, designed with visual appeal and quality construction in mind, is outfitted with handcrafted wooden counters and cabinetry plus plenty of attractive tiled hot-water showers and laundry facilities.

There's a camp store, a girt shop featuring fair trade selections and a restored vintage lodge complete with fireplace. Assorted indoor and open-air group meeting areas and a fully equipped outdoor kitchen with grills make Enota the perfect destination for reunions, rallies and retreats.

Outdoors Adventure

Enota Mountain Retreat is great for outdoorsy fun. Try angling for trout in the stocked pond, where you catch and keep the fish for a nominal tee. No license is required. You can also test the waters in brisk mountain streams and rushing waterfalls, or take a hike to the Appalachian Trail or a bear's real den.

Are you camping with children? Help them explore the playground or watch them bounce contentedly on in-ground trampolines. You can also introduce them to 300 animals, including rabbits, ducks, chickens, goats, llamas, cows, and a miniature horse at Enota's working farm.

You can join in the creative, conserving efforts and partake in the productive activities at Enota Mountain Retreat - feeding and milking the farm animals, gathering eggs, or tending the organic vegetable garden.

Freed invites RV campers to Enota Mountain Retreat, which is her favorite four-season paradise. Summertime temperatures seldom exceed 82 degrees, a cool bonus that she attributes to the air-conditioning effects of the retreat's five sparkling streams.  But there's so much more to an Enota visit than agreeable weather. "You'll get the total nature experience," says Freed.

By Paula Loehr



Enota Mountain Retreat
1000 Highway 180
Hiawassee, GA  30546
706-896-9966   800-990-8869

Your contributions help Enota protect over 60 acres held in Trust for conservation. Enota is a service-based, charitable, educational, non-profit 501(c)3, volunteer organization. It is Enota’s mission to conserve this sacred land for generations to come.
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