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U.S. Forest Service

Southern Region Viewing Area


Sabatia angularis In July, rosepink (Sabatia angularis) is found in the woodlands. Photo by Mike Brod.

Asclepias tuberosa Along the roadsides, bright orange flowers of the common butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) are easily found. Photo by Joanne Baggs.

Symphyotrichum gerogianum Georgia aster (Symphyotrichum gerogianum) is found in openings in the oak-pine woodlands. Photo by Bill Elliott.

Recovery in the herbaceous understory after prescribed fire. Recovery in the herbaceous understory after prescribed fire. Photo by Mike Brod.

Lake Russell

Forest: Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest

District: Chattooga River Ranger District

Description: Located in the Southern Appalachian Piedmont, Lake Russell provides excellent viewing of both wildflowers and flowering shrubs and trees found in the Piedmont Prairie. The use of prescribed fire is increasing the diversity of forb and grass species in the understory of the woodlands. In this area, you can find the rare plants found on mafic bedrock including rare smooth purple coneflower, Georgia aster, and prairie goldenrod. These species depend on openings created with prescribed fire.

Wildflower Viewing: Lake Russell offers a variety of opportunities to view wildflowers in the oak-pine woodlands and forest. The rich display changes with the seasons. From the spring to summer, explore the openings in the woodlands and restored meadows with displays of butterfly milkweed, Carolina thistle, curlyheads, ironweed, little-leaf sensitive brier, rattlesnakemaster, rosepink, greater tickseed, wild bergamont, woodland pinkroot, and woodland sunflower. In the late summer and fall, enjoy the variety of colors with purple asters and yellow goldenrods and sunflowers as well as the variety of native warm season grasses. The best time to visit is June through September.

Safety First: The Lake Russell Wildlife Management Area receives high recreational use throughout the summer, and traffic along the forest roads can be heavy, especially during managed deer and turkey hunts. During hunting season, it is always a good idea to wear hunter orange. Weather in the Southern Appalachians is generally mild but wet, with abundant rainfall throughout the year. Thunderstorms often occur in the afternoon and you should be aware of the weather updates. Mosquitoes, ticks, and chiggers are present. Both mosquito and tick bites can transmit diseases and appropriate measures, such as long clothing and repellants, should be used.

Directions: Take GA 365/U.S. 23 North from Gainesville past Cornelia to Hwy 197. Turn right for approximately 3 miles until dead-end. Turn right on Dicks Hill Parkway for approximately ¾ mile to access many of the Forest Service roads in the area. Good displays are found on Georgia Mountain Orchard Road (FS191). Currahee Mountain also has good displays of wildflowers. Facilities are provided at the Lake Russell Recreation Area.

Ownership and Management: USDA Forest Service, Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest.

Closest Town: Cornelia, Georgia.

For More Information: Contact the Chattooga River Ranger District, (706) 754-6221.