Bill and Dustie MacKay Trail


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Bill and Dustie MacKay Trail Facts

States: Georgia
Counties: Rabun
Length: 1.7 miles
Trail end points: Terrora Cir. and Y Camp Rd.
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Dirt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6015581

Bill and Dustie MacKay Trail Description

The Bill and Dustie MacKay Trail (also known as the Shortline Trail) spins a short, smooth circuit through Tallulah Gorge State Park. From its trailhead beside Tallulah Falls Lake, the 1.7-mile paved path meanders through a beautiful southern Appalachian forest and crosses a small suspension bridge over the Tallulah River. You can ride out and back or combine the trail with a short road segment to form a loop.

The route follows the easy grade of the old Tallulah Falls Railway, a great alternative to more arduous hiking trails that scale the nearly 1,000-foot granite walls of Tallulah Gorge. In the late 19th century the railroad granted tourists access to the gorge and its spectacular waterfalls. While you can't see the chasm from the trail, a detour across US Highway 23/441 will take you to its dizzying lip.

In the spring and fall, controlled releases from Tallulah Dam bring kayakers intent on challenging the imposing river, while Halloween heralds the annual Wails to Trails event, when costumed hikers haunt the trail.

Parking and Trail Access

Tallulah Gorge State Park is on US Highway 23/441 in North Georgia, just north of the town of Tallulah Falls. To reach it from town, drive north about 0.5 mile and turn left at the first park entrance, just past the dam. Continue along the park road to the Shortline Trail parking lot (user fee). The trail lies just south of the main park entrance.

Bill and Dustie MacKay Trail Reviews

BEAUTIFUL TRAIL. Short with noce paved trail amd a couple of bridges. Awesome!

BEAUTIFUL TRAIL. Short with noce paved trail amd a couple of bridges. Awesome!

must trip

We go to Rabun Gap every fall and always take our dog to this great trail at least twice during our weeks stay. Great views and great people we always meet.

Great for a grandpa and young grandson!

This was a wonderful easy hike alternative for me and my 6 year old grandson. We were sheltered from this windy day by the nature of the trail cutting through the hill where the railroad used to be. Lots to see and explore and my grandson thoroughly enjoyed the suspension bridge.

Asphalt trail is in great shape and there were a few signs describing wildlife that might be seen as well as a speaker-sign on the far side of the bridge that described its makeup and construction.

Parking is limited at the south end (maybe 7-8 spots?) Not too bad of a walk from the other parking areas on this side of the highway.

Short and Sweet

Nice little peaceful bike trail. A little short, which prevented a 4th or 5th star. Cool suspension bridge to cross which provides good views of the river.


Tallulah Falls Railroad

The man the pioneer the hero who brought this short line to Tallulah Falls was Colonel Rufus Lafayette Moss Sr. Now any of you who wish to Google him will find some interesting reading about him. He was the Warren Buffet of his time in the 19th century. He was a wealthy Millionaire. He lived in Athens Georgia. He owned two cotton mills.The Princeton,and White Hall mills. Two Banks.The Athens Manufacturing Company. The Moss Company. Pioneer paper company.
Athens steam engine company. Athens Gas light company. In 1870 he and his partners were granted by the State of Georgia Legislature rights to build a short line railroad north from Athens to what is today Commerce Ga.Back then was Harmony Grove.The terminus was Lula Georgia. At the time Moss needed the railroad to move his cotton to the main Georgia Southern Railroad running from New York to New orleans La. This made him think about the future.He thought if he could continue the line north to connect with the Asheville &Knoxville lines he could run cotton out west to the new states and yet to be states. But it never made it past Franklin North Carolina.
While all this was happening Colonel Rufus Lafayette Moss Sr. bought Tallulah Gorge.He built his second home a summer home in town. It's here still today. Built in 1879 by Moss is the oldest man made structure in town . oldest and largest house. oldest house in the town.the 4th oldest house in Rabun County via the Rabun County Historical Society and courthouse records. He built a hotel across the street from the railroad depot that he built and owned.the hotel was named the Cliff House. Because he owned the gorge he thought the train would bring visitors which it did. And after he sold part of his gorge to Georgia power company in 1909. He was responsible for the first electric in our state. The second part of the gorge was sold by his son Rufus Lafayette Moss Jr. (Rufus Sr. Died in 1912.) to the state of Georgia for the very park all of you enjoy today and the very trail you walk on was once where Colonel Rufus Lafayette Moss Sr.train carried people and freight as far north to Franklin North Carolina. Rufus Lafayette Moss Sr brought the train to town in 1882.
Because no one could figure out how to put a trestle across such a deep gorge.It took a while to get to clayton Georgia from Tallulah Falls.
But Moss finally built a 1200 foot trestle to span the town to and over the gorge. Colonel Rufus Lafayette Moss Sr also with 5 other business men went to the state of Georgia legislature and on October 7th 1885 the state legislature apionted Colonel Rufus Lafayette Moss, Thomas Abraham Robinson,JM Cartledge,William D Young, and William Berry Commissioner's to Incorporate the town of Tallulah Falls. I hope you all enjoyed the history lesson. And these are the facts pulled from the state of Georgia Archives and the UGA Archives. The reason I wrote this is to get the real truth out about one great man the the state of Georgia will not recognize as the pioneer who brought the first tourism into the northeastern part of our state and all people interested in the rails to trails should know the history that they walk on. Enjoy your walk.

Inline Skating

This is a fantastic trail for inline skating. It has very level terrain and out and back is plenty at 3.4 miles. The trail is wide and 95% shaded, very nice even on a hot day. There are several benches along the way. Dogs on leash are permitted.

Perfect for family

Absolutely beautiful trail. Easy for all ages! If I had a gripe it would only be that it is not long enough. Excellent condition and it literlly feels downhill almost the entire ride. We did the complete circle twice and then hiked to the bottom of the gorge. All in 4 hours. When you take the trail do not turn and go back. Just stay on the road, there is little to no traffic and it will bring you right back where you started. Great day trip!!!

A neat trail

This trail provides for a very enjoyable short ride along a stream in this state park.

Pleasant Ride

"My buddy and I had spent the earlier part of the day riding and hiking the North Rim of Tallulah Gorge. We planned it so the rail-trail portion would be last so we could enjoy a 'cool down' ride. And we did!!

The trail isn't's enjoyable. I was a bit disappointed with the lack of spectacular scenery but that might be attributed to what we had seen earlier in the day. The trail is in a cool mountain forest trail with views of running streams. There are many benches along the trail to rest, if needed. The asphalt is in excellent condition and quite wide. It was a very good way to end our day."

Great for all ages

The Tallulah Falls Rail-Trail is an excellent trail for everyone of all ages! It's a great quiet get-away place to relax and enjoy nature without having to worry about traffic.

The trail is great for families with children of all ages. Activites here include very easy biking and walking and wheelchair users can use the trail.

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