Thankful for Blue Ridge



The holiday season is quickly approaching, and in a year like 2020, it is more important than ever to hold those you love close and not take anything for granted. With so many who have lost loved ones this year or who have been apart from those they love, it’s been an incredibly trying time.

While this Thanksgiving you might not be able to spend it with all your loved ones, make sure you cherish and hug the ones you can. Make sure to call those you can’t see, and let them know you love them. This is the time of year to be thankful for those special people in your life, and show them, and the world a little extra love during the holidays this year and always.

We need it more than ever. And in a time of so much stress and pain, a little mountain escape might be just what you and your family need. Breathe in the fresh mountain air, get away from your daily routine, and just be with the people you love. Here are 7 things we here at Blue Ridge are especially thankful for this year. 

Family

One of the most special things for us is family. We know how important family is to you and it’s important to us too. That’s why we specialize in vacations MADE for families. After all, what would life be without family? Who would teach you how to tie your shoelaces or teach you your first words? Who would be there for you through thick and thin? Who would love you unconditionally no matter what? Family, that’s who. Family means everything and without them, we would be lost.

Friends

Friends make the world a better place. Even if you’re miles apart, friends are always just a call away. One reason this year has been so hard is because we’ve been apart from our friends. But those wine night zoom calls or funny memes sent back and forth are what keeps us sane in times like this. And while we love our families, they may not always understand us like our friends do.

If you and your friends need a safe reunion, Blue Ridge is your place. With so many exciting adventures to go on and memories to make; it’ll be the trip of a lifetime! Hike the trails of the Chattahoochee National Forest with your best friends, explore one of Blue Ridge’s four local waterfalls, or enjoy food and drinks downtown. Whatever you and your friends do on your trip you’ll have a blast because you’ll be together! 

Good Food

Thanksgiving at “Noontootla Cottage

Food is a huge part of the holiday season, especially Thanksgiving. After all, food is what brings family and friends together around the table. Every family has special traditions and recipes that they share every year. Whether it’s grandma’s famous green-bean casserole recipe that’s been passed down for generations, or getting the whole family in the kitchen together to help cook and prepare the meal; chances are your family does something special when it comes to food during Thanksgiving.

Stories and laughs are shared from across a table filled with turkey, gravy, rolls, mashed potatoes, green beans, and sweet potatoes galore. After the meal, even if you are stuffed there is always room for a slice of pumpkin or apple pie! But, if this Thanksgiving you’re in Blue Ridge and need a break from cooking, check out some of our beloved local restaurants who are preparing meals special for Thanksgiving. And be sure to try our local restaurants every other day of the year as well! We are so thankful for them and all that they do for our guests and our community!

Great Outdoors

In a year of being cooped up in the house all day, we are so thankful for the great outdoors. And Blue Ridge is the perfect place to get your nature on! Nothing beats going on a peaceful hike through the mountains and then taking in the stunning views when you reach the top. Or sitting on your cabin’s porch and watching the sunset above the mountains.

We are thankful we have so many outdoor experiences to offer kids and adults alike. If you need to escape the confines of your own home and find an outdoor adventure, look no further than Blue Ridge. 

Entertainment

Lonesome Dove” cabin

Since we all spent most of this year stuck in the house we’re thankful that we had movies, tv shows, video games, and books to entertain us. I’m sure we all binge-watched a show (or 20) during quarantine and finished dozens of books. We had movie nights constantly and logged countless hours on our favorite video games. Thank goodness for Netflix and Disney + right!? With TVs by the fireplace and comfy sofas to curl up into, there is no better place to binge-watch than your home away from home. Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean the entertainment has to stop, after all, what are vacations for if not relaxing?

Health

This year especially we are all incredibly grateful for our health. With so many loved ones who have lost their lives this year, it is more important than ever to be thankful that we are healthy when so many others are not. Drink your orange juice, take your cold medicine, wear your mask, get a good night’s rest; whatever it takes to protect you and the health of your loved ones this year is vital. Hold those you love extra close this year, and let them know how thankful you are for them and their good health.  Here’s to us; may we continue to take care of ourselves and others so that we may remain healthy for the year to come!

You

Family at “Nighthawk” Courtesy of @danalutz_2.0

We are so incredibly thankful for you, our faithful guests! This year has been hard on businesses all over the world, but we thank you for your continued support and that you continue to stay with us. It is a gift to have you and your beautiful family and friends stay with us, this year especially. We love seeing your fun photos and videos of your trip, and hearing all about what you did. So continue to share with us and support us, and we will do the same! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

12 “Cool” Blue Ridge Activities



The leaves are gone, the air is getting chilly, and the days are shorter; winter is almost here! While some may dread the winter months there’s nothing to be upset about while you’re in Blue Ridge. So much winter fun can be had at your cabin or nearby in town! Here’s a list of 12 cool things to do when you Escape to Blue Ridge this winter. 

Stargaze

Photo Courtesy of JMC Artistic Photography

Grab your favorite hot beverage, head outside, lay down a blanket, and look up at the stars all around you. Being in a small mountain town we don’t get any light pollution so you can see stars for miles. In fact, you don’t even need to travel far, you can stargaze right from your own cabin!

Bring a blanket and lay it on the ground, then curl up with friends or your loved one to enjoy the beauty of the night sky. Maybe even bring some fun snacks! It may be chilly but with the right people, blankets, and warm beverages you won’t even notice the cold. You’ll feel far away from the rest of the world as you gaze up into the beautiful starry sky, that seems to never end. We promise it’ll take your breath away!

Game Night or Movie Night

Get the family and friends together for a night in. Curl up by the fireplace with some warm blankets and delicious snacks and have a movie night. For festive fun make it a Christmas movie night! Everyone will enjoy how cozy and relaxed they feel while still having plenty of room to stretch out. You can never go wrong with a bunch of great people and great movies to binge.

If you want some more social interaction have a fun-filled game night instead. Grab your favorite board games and show your family just how good you really are! Put your brain to the test and guess that it was Mrs. Scarlet, in the study with a rope in Clue, or make your family go bankrupt in Monopoly. Whatever you do on your cozy night in, make sure to bring the snacks! 

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway 

Hitch a ride on Blue Ridge Scenic Railway for some gorgeous views and winter fun! Enjoy a peaceful winter ride past the Appalachian foothills while you sip on a cup of hot chocolate. Or if you’re looking for a more festive experience get a ticket for the Santa Express. You can enjoy a Christmas themed ride through North Georgia. Children even receive Christmas bells and candy canes! And on select days in December you can take the train to Santa Pavilion in the sister towns of McCaysville, GA and Copperhill, TN to visit Santa and Mrs. Claus. No matter what ride you chose stunning views await you! 

Spa Day

Photo Courtesy of Serenity in the Mountains

Relax and treat yourself to a spa day with our friends at Serenity in the Mountains! Get pampered with massages, facials, skin care and body treatments. You can even get a manicure or pedicure and a new hair -do while you’re there! You’ll be refreshed and glowing for the holiday season by the time you leave.

Be sure to try out their famous Salt Cave for ultimate relaxation. Lay back and soak in the complete feeling of calm you’ll get while you listen to soft music and breathe in the salt particles. Inhaling these salt particles can help to reduce inflammation in the entire respiratory tract, widen the airway passages, eliminate mucous and allergens, and give you an overall improved immune system. It’s even good for your skin! For a calming escape from the stress of holiday planning stop by Serenity in the Mountains to get your relax on!

Hike the Trails

Being in the heart of the Blue Ridge mountains you can, of course, always hike the trails. Breathe in that crisp mountain air and work up a sweat while exploring all Blue Ridge has to offer. With dozens of trails to chose from explore waterfalls, rivers, mountain peaks, forests, and lakes alike. It wouldn’t be a trip to the mountains without getting outside and taking it all in. 

Christmas Shows

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Community Theater

Get in the Christmas spirit with some local theater! Blue Ridge Community Theater is putting on Elf the Musical from November 19th-December 13th. What could be more Christmasy then such a beloved holiday film but in musical form? Remember what Buddy says, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!” Or enjoy Gift of the Magi 2.0 also at Blue Ridge Community Theater running November 27th- December 13th. The show takes place in Atlanta in the 1950’s, during the Atlanta Transit strike. A man and his beloved wife try to find one another the perfect Christmas gift to show their love. It’s a touching show that will leave you feeling good inside. 

For more holiday shows check out Annie at the Sunny D Children’s Theater running December 17th-20th. Nothing can put a smile on your face more than listening to children sing. And afterall, Annie is such a beloved and timeless musical everyone can enjoy!

Shopping 

Everyone loves a good shopping trip, especially if it involves getting everyone on your list Christmas gifts! Pop into the shops at Downtown Blue Ridge for a variety of fun and different Christmas gift ideas. Grab something for your outdoorsy dad at Blue Ridge Adventure Wear and then mosey on over to Blue Ridge Olive Oil Company to grab some delicious and unique oils for moms cooking. Pick up some art to go in that blank space above your TV at High Country Art or take a little bit of Blue Ridge home with you and grab a shirt from Blue Ridge Cotton Company.

When you need a snack break from all your shopping stop by Black Sheep or Chester’s for some delicious food. Even enjoy looking at all the shops windows decorated for Christmas. You’ll be sure to find something great for everyone on your list at Downtown Blue Ridge and maybe even a couple of things to spoil yourself with as well!

Polar Bear Plunge

If you’re feeling especially adventurous you could always take a dip in the freezing water and take the Polar Bear Plunge. Jump into the Toccoa River or Lake Blue Ridge if you really want to; just make sure to have something warm to bundle up with when you get out. And then maybe head back to your cabin and soak in a warm bath afterwards too! A Polar Bear Plunge certainly isn’t for everyone, but hey if that’s you, go for it and have some fun!

Look at Holiday lights

Photo Courtesy of Crescent Moon Images

Blue Ridge and the surrounding areas have so many wonderful places to enjoy Christmas lights! Head over to Hiawassee and the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds for their Mountain Country Christmas celebration. Running every night Thursday-Saturday from November 26th-December 26th, enjoy seeing the Fairgrounds all lit up with lights reflecting off of Lake Chatuge. There will also be art and craft vendors, food vendors, music, and Santa himself!

If you are in town on November 27th, stop in McCaysville to see the town fully decorated and lit up. Also enjoy the shops and restaurants McCaysville has to offer. And at 7:30 make sure you don’t miss the annual tree and bridge lighting! You could even drive around the Blue Ridge area with your family and look at all the local Christmas decorations and lights.

Bonfire

On cold chilly nights bonfires always hit the spot! Imagine sitting around the fire roasting marshmallows, telling stories, and breathing in the fresh mountain air. How cozy does that sound? Make a night out of it and bring the hot dogs too for a simple yet delicious and timeless dinner. If things start to get a little chilly but you’re not quite ready to go in for the night, grab some blankets and hot chocolate to warm yourself up and enjoy!

Make cookies and gingerbread houses 

The Floen Family at “Panoramic Grace” cabin

The holidays are all about baking and eating, and what better things to bake than cookies!? Get everyone together to make the perfect cookies; snickerdoodles, chocolate chip, sugar, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter, or all of them! It’s never a problem to have too many cookies, they’ll get eaten one way or the another.

Use cookie cutters to make your cookies into fun shapes if you want. Then crank up the Christmas music and dance around the kitchen while you wait for them to bake. When the cookies are finished decorate them if you want! Put that green frosting on to make the perfect tree or that red frosting to make Santa’s hat just right. Then eat to your hearts content, but don’t forget the milk!

For more fun Christmas food activities and snacking, buy a gingerbread house kit and assemble it. You can even make it from scratch if you feel like you’re a master gingerbread house architect. If you’re more successful with gingerbread house construction than me, and your walls actually stick together and your roof doesn’t cave in, then enter your gingerbread house in Blue Ridge’s own Gingerbread House Contest. Your masterpiece will be on display from November 27th- December 13th! 

Decorate your cabin

Raccoon Retreat” Cabin

If you’re staying with us for Christmas you might as well bring the Christmas with you! Put up a tree (ask about our tree service) and decorate the cabin, nothing will have you feeling more in the Christmas spirit than being surrounded by Christmas décor in your home away from home! We want you to get the full Christmas experience when you stay with us so have fun dolling the place up, just make sure you (pretty please) clean up when you leave. Blast the Christmas music, put on little Ralphie Parker on the tv in the background, and deck the cabin out! 

Whether you’re in Blue Ridge for the winter season or the holidays there’s so much fun to be had while you’re here! Experience all we have to offer and really enjoy your time soaking it all in. You deserve it after the year we’ve had! So spread some Christmas cheer and have some winter fun, and most importantly have a great time on you Escape to Blue Ridge! 

The Ultimate Meal



Fine dining is different at every restaurant, but there is something magical about having a fully prepared gourmet meal in the privacy of your luxurious mountain cabin. Lucky for us, so many of the finest award-winning international chefs have found their way to the Appalachian mountains, tired of the hassle of metropolitan restaurant life, and a few special ones chose to settle right here in Blue Ridge to share their talents.  

These professional chefs will come to your cabin, prepare an incredible meal suited to your tastes and dietary needs, and the best part is they clean up all the mess! The surprising part, is this 5-star service is much more affordable than you might think. Seriously. It is! We recommend you consider one of these amazing options (listed alphabetically because we love all 3!) on your next Escape to Blue Ridge.

BLUE DUCK EATS

Chef Steven – Blue Duck Eats

Steven Lash is a veteran of the restaurant world having worked in some of the top kitchens in Atlanta for over 15 years. Steven’s food is best described as “inspired American cuisine” combining fine dining with local influence inspired by his extensive travel, passion for the outdoors, and hunger for understanding cultures.

Jumbo lump crab cake with Meyer lemon Beurre Blanc and Microgreen salad

CHEF JEFF SERVIN

Locals Only Special for Escape to Blue Ridge Guests

Chef Jeff Servin

With over 15 years of restaurant experience, this 33 year old Executive Chef takes pride in sourcing his produce from local farmers, and bringing the best quality to the table for every plate he delivers, so you know it’s fresh! He puts his entire heart, passion, and skillset into dinner parties, family dinners, or an exotic feast for two. He also offers packaged meals that are ready in minutes, so you don’t even need to leave your cabin!

Wedding Reception for Escape to Blue Ridge partner, Ernie White
  • Featured blog cover photo courtesy of Chef Jeff Servin.

CHEF TREY GOURMET

Chef Trey Griffith

Using the freshest, often locally sourced ingredients, Chef Trey is passionate about sharing the experience of fine dining with his clients. His services include initial client consultation, a customized menu plan, grocery shopping, meal preparation, and kitchen clean up!

Five spiced wild caught Steelhead Trout with Honey glaze, Saffron scented yellow rice, diced sautéed yellow Beet Root, Soy glaze

S’mores Elevated



S’mores. A favorite dessert for families and a fun time sitting around the firepit. A little graham cracker, a little marshmallow, a little chocolate is an amazing combination for the perfectly crafted s’mores, BUT how do you take your s’mores to the next level?

BACON of course!🥓

Chocolate Lovers

What about using Reese’s Peanut Butter cups instead of milk chocolate?

Photo courtesy of Hershey’s

Candy Bar Style

Give me a break. Give me a break. Make me a s’mores with a Kit Kat bar!

Photo courtesy of Flickr

“Get the sensation” of minty deliciousness when you make your s’mores with a York Peppermint Patty!

Photo courtesy of Hip2Save

Peanut, Peanut Butter!

There isn’t much that compliments chocolate better than Peanut Butter, but have you ever added it to your s’mores? We promise, this extra layer of yum will change the way you make s’mores forever!

Photo courtesy of Jif

Healthier?

Make your s’mores a little healthy with strawberries!

Elevate your sweetness level with bananas! When the sugars caramelize, your taste buds are going to jump for joy!

Photo courtesy of the Food Network

Piece de Resistance

Chocolate lovers already know, but we’re going to let you in on a secret. NUTELLA! This hazelnut chocolate is an incredible way to elevate your s’mores and satisfy your sweet tooth at the same time!

Photo courtesy of Laura in the Kitchen

What’s Your Fav?

Do you have better s’mores concoctions? Leave a comment with your favorites or tag us on Facebook or Instagram!

Top 5 Scenic Fall Drives



Fall is finally here! And that means taking the more scenic route, to enjoy all the beautiful fall foliage that Blue Ridge and the surrounding areas have to offer. Here are our 5 favorite scenic roads to drive this fall that will provide you with the best views and a variety of fun stops along the way that the whole family will enjoy!

Suches

Preachers Rock courtesy of The Hobson Homestead

A drive through Suches, on Highway 60, has to be one of the most beautiful drives through Blue Ridge’s countryside!  It is one of the most elevated areas in the state of Georgia, approaching 3,000 feet above sea level, which is why many people call it “The Valley Above the Clouds”.  It’s such a beautiful place that, up until recent years, the Tour of Georgia bicycle race went directly through Suches and onto Dahlongea. Suches is completely surrounded by the Chattahoochee National Forest so there are many fantastic hiking trails and pit stops to make. If you’re up for a little adventure there’s the Swinging Bridge over the Toccoa River. It’s the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi River at 270 feet long! It’s the perfect place to hike or even kayak down the river. Nearby is also Preacher’s Rock, a great place to hike and catch some stunning views. 

Cohutta Wilderness

Jacks River Falls Trail in the Cohutta Wilderness courtesy of Atlanta Trails

We couldn’t make this list without a trip through the beautiful Cohutta Wilderness! The Cohutta Wilderness is the largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi taking up over 40,000 acres of land. They also make up a part of the oldest mountain chain in the world, running all the way from Fannin County to the Tennessee and North Carolina borders. For the best views take Highway 5, which will lead you through the Cohuttas and be surrounded by fall beauty all around! Make sure to take a pitstop at Mercier Orchards to pick up some fresh apples and enjoy fun for the whole family. And be sure to check out the historic site of Prater’s Mill, a pre-civil war building and continued working mill.  

Cherohala Skyway

Cherohala Skyway photograph by Mike Waller

Cherohala Skyway passes through Tennessee and parts of North Carolina, but we assure you it’s worth the drive. It’s a 43 mile long National Scenic Byway and National Forest Scenic Byway, passing through both Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests which gives the road its name Chero-Hala. While on the drive be sure to make a stop at Bald River Falls. It’s a beautiful, 90-foot waterfall and a great place to take some awesome pictures. Another great stop is located in Tellico Plains, TN; The Charles Hall Museum and Visitor Center. The museum features many antiques from Charles Hall who was a local businessman and resident of Tellico Plains. From old photographs, guns, telephone equipment, and other historic artifacts there’s sure to be something fun and interesting for the whole family!

Ocoee Scenic Byway

Chilhowee view courtesy of Jim Caldwell

Ocoee Scenic Byway is another Tennessee road filled with stunning mountain views, rock peaks, Lake Ocoee, and the Cherokee National Forest. The area is also filled to the brim with Civil War and Cherokee Indian historic sites. One historic site to check out on your drive is the Old Copper Road. Originally, the road was used to transport copper ore from Copperhill and Ducktown to Clevland, TN. They moved the copper by horse-drawn wagons and once they reached Cleveland the copper was then transported by train all the way to Richmond, VA and Birmingham, AL. The copper transported here was the main source of copper for the Confederacy during the Civil War. The original Old Copper Road has now been rehabilitated into a hiking trail at Ocoee Whitewater Center. The river at the Ocoee Whitewater Center was even the site of the canoe and kayak competition in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games!

Highway 180

Hwy 180 courtesy of Scott Michael Anna

Highway 180 connects with Georgia’s only national scenic drive, The Russell-Brasstown Scenic Drive. You’ll circle around the Chattahoochee National Forest on this road and have a front row seat to all the trees changing colors.  If you follow highway 180 for about 12 miles you’ll reach Brasstown Bald, which has the highest elevation in the whole state of Georgia. Make sure to check out the observation tower where you’ll have a view of 3 different states at once! Hop back on 180 and pass through Helen, GA where you can stop at Habersham Vineyards & Winery, one of Georgia’s oldest and largest wineries. Relax for a bit and enjoy a refreshing glass of one of their award winning wines. Also in Helen, GA be sure to check out The Georgia Mountain Coaster. It’s the first alpine roller coaster in Georgia and a quick ride on it will be sure to be a thrilling experience!

These roads are the perfect trip to enjoy the views and the vibrant colors that the mountains have to offer. So grab your family, fill up your tank, and keep the windows rolled down for an awesome trip through the Blue Ridge Mountains this fall! And please share your photos with us. We love to see them!

Fireside Ghost Stories



I’m supposed to write to you about telling ghost stories around the campfire, but the truth is this writer is a big ‘ol scaredy cat and just researching good ghost stories is enough to have the hair on the back of my neck stand up! Why do we like telling ghost stories? Do we like to be scared or do we prefer to do the scaring and see someone else’s reaction? Is it the thrill of the story? The adrenaline rush when your brain is thinking is this a fight or flight situation? I mean, we know it’s not real and can’t possibly be true, but…….why is this so scary then?

I’ve been around firepits where some of the funniest moments that ever happened was when someone got super scared. You know the scared I mean, when they are all tensed up, on high alert, and usually make some really strange and high pitched shrieking sounds. Next thing you know, they are tripping over themselves and acting a fool running back toward the safety of the cabin in a frantic wail! (That may or may not be a rather personal experience, but I’ll let you be the judge of that!)

A dear friend is an amazing storyteller that puts on the Georgia Mountain Storytelling Festival and participates in Appalachian Story nights at the Haunts & Harvest at Blue Ridge Community Theater. So, I reached out to her to find out if there are any legends or lore in these Blue Ridge mountains that would be fit for a ghost story tale. She shared this super creepy Cherokee Tail that happened right here in these mountains that you may be interested in. But fair warning, if you don’t like to be scared or don’t want to be super creeped out try these lighter ghost stories and don’t scroll below to read the Cherokee Legend of Spear-Finger!

Ok. I lied. There is no such thing as “lighter” ghost stories. Even the kid’s ones are totally creepy! Why can’t we just stick to roasting marshmallows and singing “Kumbaya” around the campfire?! Ok. I’m pulling myself together. Here we go. I remember hearing this one as a kid. Maybe this was the beginning of my trauma. Courtesy of Café Mom, enjoy “The Pink Jelly Bean”.

Premise: At the end of a long, dark road is a long, dark path. At the end of the long, dark path is a lone, dark house. And the lone, dark house has a single, dark door. Behind the single, dark door is a long, dark hall. At the end of the long, dark hall are some tall, dark stairs. (Story continues, narrowing in from a room to a closet to a chest to a box, etc.) And in the small, dark box is … a pink jellybean!!!!

Notes for telling: The idea here is to build as much suspense as possible before you leap forward and dramatically shout the jellybean line. You’ll know you did it right if your audience reacts by instantly pooping their pants.

Here are a few more:

The Broom Town Curse

Dem Bones

The Ball Pit

Creak

WiFi Connection

As promised, here’s one to make you shiver:

A Cherokee Legend – SpearFinger

Long, long ago there dwelt in the mountains a terrible ogress, a woman monster, whose food was human livers. She could take on any shape or appearance to suit her purpose, but in her right form she looked very much like an old woman.

But not an ordinary woman: her whole body was covered with a skin as hard as a rock that no weapon could wound or penetrate, and that on her right hand she had a long, stony forefinger of bone, like an awl or spearhead, with which she stabbed everyone to whom she could get near enough.

On account of this fact she was called U `tlun’ta “Spear-finger,” and on account of her stony skin she was sometimes called Nun’yunu’I, “Sone-dress.” There was another stone-clothed monster that killed people, but that is a different story.

Spear-finger had such powers over stone that she could easily lift and carry immense rocks, and could cement them together by merely striking one against another. To get over the rough country more easily she undertook to build a great rock bridge through the air from Nunyu’tlu `gun’yi, the “Tree rock,” on Hiwassee, over to Sanigila’gi (Whiteside mountain), on the Blue Ridge, and had it well started from the top of the “Tree rock” when the lightning struck it and scattered the fragments along the whole ridge, where the pieces can still be seen by those who go there. She used to range all over the mountains about the heads of the streams and in the dark passes of Nantahala, always hungry looking for victims. Her favorite haunt on the Tennessee side was about the gap on the trail where Chilhowie mountain comes down to the river.

Sometimes an old woman would approach along the rail where the children were picking strawberries or playing near the village, and would say to them coaxingly, “Come, my grandchildren, come to your granny and let granny dress your hair.”

When some little girl ran up and laid her head in the old woman’s lap to be petted and combed the old witch would gently run her fingers through the child’s hair until it went to sleep, when she would stab the little one through the heart or back of the neck with the long awl finger, which she had kept hidden under her robe. Then she would take out the liver and eat it.

She would enter a house by taking the appearance of one of the family who happened to have gone out for a short time, and would watch her chance to stab someone with her long finger and take out his liver.

She could stab him without being noticed, and often the victim did not even know it himself at the time – for it left no wound and caused no pain – but went on about his own affairs, until all at once he felt weak and began gradually to pine away, and was always sure to die, because Spear-finger had taken his liver.

When the Cherokee went out in the fall, according to their custom, to burn the leaves off from the mountains in order to get the chestnuts on the ground, they were never safe, for the old witch was always on the lookout, and as soon as she saw the smoke rise she knew there were Indians there and sneaked up to try to surprise one alone.

So as well as they could they tried to keep together, and were very cautious of allowing any stranger to approach the camp. But if one went down to the spring for a drink they never knew but it might be the liver eater that came back and sat with them.

Sometimes she took her proper form, and once or twice, when far out from the settlements, a solitary hunter had seen an old woman, with a queer-looking hand, going through the woods singing low to herself:

Uwe’la na’tsiku’. Su’ sa’ sai’.

Liver, I eat it. Su’ sa’ sai’.

It was rather pretty song, but it chilled his blood, for he knew it was the liver eater, and he hurried away, silently, before she might see him.  

At last a great council was held to devise some means to get rid of U `tlun’ta before she should destroy everybody. The people came from all around, and after much talk it was decided that the best way would be to trap her in a pitfall where all the warriors could attack her at once.

So they dug a deep pitfall across the trail and covered it over with earth and grass as if the ground had never been disturbed. Then they kindled a large fire of brush near the trail and hid themselves in the laurels, because they knew she would come as soon as she saw the smoke.

Sure enough they soon saw an old woman coming along the trail. She looked like an old woman whom they knew well in the village, and although several of the wiser men wanted to shoot at her, the other interfered, because they did not want to hurt one of their own people. The old woman came slowly along the trail, with one hand under her blanket, until she stepped upon the pitfall and tumbled through the brush top into the deep hole below.

Then, at once, she showed her true nature, and instead of the feeble old woman there was the terrible U`tlun’ta with her stony skin, and her sharp awl finger reaching out in every direction for someone to stab.

The hunters rushed out from the thicket and surrounded the pit, but shoot as true and as often as they could, their arrows struck the stony mail of the witch only to be broken and fall useless at her feet, while she taunted them and tried to climb out of the pit to get at them. They kept out of her way, but were only wasting their arrows when a small bird, Utsu’ gi, the titmouse, perched on a tree overhead and began to sing “un, un, un.”

They thought it was saying u’nahu’, heart, meaning that they should aim at the heart of the stone witch. They directed their arrows where the heart should be, but the arrows only glanced off with the flint heads broken.

Then they caught the Utsu’ 1gi and cut off its tongue, so that ever since its tongue is short and everybody knows it is a liar. When the hunters let go it flew straight up into the sky until it was out of sight and never came back again. The titmouse that we know now is only an image of the other.

They kept up the fight without result until another bird, little Tsikilili, the chickadee, flew down from a tree and alighted upon the witch’s right hand. The warriors took this as a sign that they must aim there, and they were right, for her heart was on the inside of her hand, which she kept doubled into a fist, this same awl hand with which she had stabbed so many people.

Now she was frightened in earnest, and began to rush furiously at them with her long awl finger and to jump about in the pit to dodge the arrows, until at last a lucky arrow struck just where the awl joined her wrist and she fell down dead.

Ever since the tsikilili is know as a truth teller, and when a man is away on a journey, if this bird comes and perches near the house and chirps its song, his friends know he will soon be safe home.

Welcome October!



As the season changes from summer to fall, make sure you don’t miss out on the crisp weather, changing leaves and fun in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia! Fall is one of the most beautiful times of year so don’t miss your chance to create memorable traditions with your loved ones! Check out the events below and Escape To Blue Ridge!

UPCOMING EVENTS & ACTIVITIES

Fall Festival
October 3rd – 31st
LOCATION: Cartecay Vineyards

Every weekend in October is the Fall Festival at Cartecay Vineyards. Enjoy live music and fine Georgia Wines! Food and Arts & Crafts Vendors will be onsite.

Lake Blue Ridge Concert Series
October 3rd & 24th
LOCATION: Morganton Cove on Lake Blue Ridge

David Nail will be performing at Morganton Cove on the shores of Lake Blue Ridge on Saturday, October 3rd. Later in the month Alex Guthrie and Jennifer Lynn Simpson will perform on October 24th. The event will be compliant to social distancing and you are encouraged to bring your own chairs and coolers. All proceeds go to St. Jude Hospital for Pediatric Cancer.

Barktoberfest
October 4th
LOCATION: Grumpy Old Men Brewery

The Humane Society of Blue Ridge is hosting their annual fundraiser at Grumpy Old Men Brewery. Enjoy a day of music, food, & cold beer! Jeff’s Hotdogs will be onsite and all furry friends are allowed to attend!

Yoga at Old Toccoa Farm
October 4th, 11th, 18th & 25th
LOCATION: Old Toccoa Farm

Join Christie Gribble for Yoga by the river at beautiful Old Toccoa Farm. All levels are welcome!

Guided Hike – John Muir Trail to the Narrows
October 9th
LOCATION: Benton MacKaye Trail

Beginning at the Swinging Bridge, join fellow hikers on a beautiful journey filled with fascinating rock formations, water crossings, and plenty of fall beauty!

Fall Arts & Crafts Show
October 9th, 10th, 11th, 16th, 17th, & 18th
LOCATION: Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds

This 2 weekend event will feature more than 80 arts and crafts vendors, food vendors, and musicians playing throughout the Fairgrounds! The event will take place October 9th, 10th, & 11th as well as October 16th, 17th, & 18th. Admission is $5 per person and children 12 and under are FREE!

FAME: the Musical JR
Thursdays – Sundays October 16th – 31st
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Community Theater

Fame The Musical inspired generations to fight for fame and light up the sky like a flame! Conceived and developed by David De Silva – now known affectionately to the planet as “Father Fame” – this high-octane musical features the Academy Award-winning title song and a host of other catchy pop numbers.

53rd Annual Mountain Moonshine Festival
October 23rd – 25th
LOCATION: Georgia Racing Hall of Fame

Check out one of the largest car shows in the Eastern US! There will be hundreds of vintage cars, classic music, arts & craft vendors, kids activities, and of course moonshine!

Appalachian Brew, Stew, & Que Festival
October 24th
LOCATION: Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds

The 2020 Appalachian Brew, Stew, & Que Festival brings you 35+ great craft breweries from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina & Alabama. There will also be delicious food from area restaurants, regional arts & crafts, and lots of Appalachian & Americana music!

Chimp or Treat at Project Chimps
October 24th & 25th
LOCATION: Project Chimps

What’s better than trick or treating? Chimp or Treat, of course! At Project Chimps, children will take a 30-45 minute guided walking tour, get treats at seven different stops along the way and get a chance to see a chimpanzee from the viewing window!

Bigfoot Boogie 5k
October 31st
LOCATION: Riverwalk, McCaysville

The Riverwalk Run Series presents the Bigfoot Boogie 5K. 3.1 Miles, 2 States, 1 Steelbridge. A 5K like no other, and costumes are encouraged! This scenic run follows the historic Toccoa River along McCaysville, GA and into Copperhill, TN for a Spooktacular day of fun!

NEW HOMES ADDED TO OUR PROGRAM

Surrounded by tranquility and the beauty of nature everywhere you look, staying at Mountain Blu is like being in an enchanted forest, with tall shady trees above you and the sound of the babbling creek below. Located on nearly four wooded acres in the private community of Mountain Tops, this magnificent, secluded property offers you the ultimate in mountain luxury!

Wolf Mountain Hideaway makes a stunning first impression. Tucked away on a wooded hillside, it has glorious long-range mountain vistas visible above the trees and a prow roof pointing toward the sky. Beautifully designed on three levels with a wraparound deck, the pine log cabin is spacious yet cozy, its bright and airy open-plan design and elegantly rustic décor creating a comfortable, inviting ambiance.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Adventure Awaits in Aska!

Nestled only a few miles outside of downtown Blue Ridge, the Aska Adventure Area is packed with plenty of activities for visitors. Whether you are hoping to explore the serene North Georgia Mountains or grab a bite to eat at a mom-and-pop restaurant, you’ll have a blast in the Aska region of Blue Ridge. The Toccoa RiverAppalachian Trail, and the Benton Mackaye Trail all intersect through the Aska Trail System. When you are ready to make your Escape to Blue Ridge, don’t forget to pack your hiking boots, load up the bicycle and get ready to have some great outdoor fun!

A September to Remember



September is a time of transition, when summer is coming to an end, but the crisp nights promise something even better! As the season changes to fall, make sure you don’t miss out on the cool mountain weather and fun fall traditions in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains!

UPCOMING EVENTS & ACTIVITIES

Artist in Residence: Colleen Sterling, Plein Air International Paint-Out, & Blackberry Creek Artists
September 1 – September 30
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association

Photo Courtesy of The Art Center

Spend the day at the Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association! Previously a historic courthouse, you will now find a creative place to view art, take classes, pick up art supplies, and mingle with fellow artisans.

This September, the Art Center will be hosting a Plein Air Paint-Out, an art display by the Blackberry Creek Artisans, plus this month’s Artist in Residence, Colleen Sterling! Note: The winner Of the Plein Air Paint-Out will receive a $500 gift certificate for a cabin of their choice!

Pickin’ in the Park
September 1 – September 24
LOCATION: Horseshoe Bend Park

Photo Courtesy of the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce

Enjoy a trip out to the twin cities of Mcaysville & Copperhill to shop and dine for the day. If you’re there on a Thursday, stop by Horseshoe Bend Park and enjoy the appalachian sounds. No cost to attend, and you are welcome to bring blankets or chairs.

Wine Themed Movie Nights & Live Music
September 1 – September 30
LOCATION: bin322 Wine & Tapas Bar

Photo Courtesy of bin322

Kick back and relax with your favorite glass of wine at Blue Ridge’s wine bar. Along with tasty tapas options you can also enjoy live music and wine themed movie nights!

September 5th – Robert Ferguson
September 10th – Special Wine Tasting Event
September 11th – Surrender Hill
September 12th – Topper Unplugged
September 16th – Trivia Night
September 19th – Loose Shoes Duo
September 23rd – Shannon York & Rob Harper
September 26th – Danny Rhea

Music at The Blue Coyote
September 1 – September 30
LOCATION: The Blue Coyote

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Coyote

The Blue Coyote is known for their live music and entertainment. While you’re there you can enjoy their tasty bar food and a whole bunch of beer! They even have a dog-friendly patio! Stop by, check it out, and enjoy the music!

September 4th – Hughes Taylor
September 5th – Gregg Erwin Band
September 11th – Fish and Grits
September 12th – Donny Hammonds Band
September 18th – Disciples of Sound
September 19th – Breaking Point
September 25th – Topper
September 26th – Mind the Stepchildren

Brunch & Live Music
September 1 – September 30
LOCATION: The Black Sheep

Photo Courtesy of the Black Sheep

The Black Sheep added new outdoor pet friendly patio area and feature live music on Sundays to go with their incredible brunch!

Live Music at Grumpy Old Men Brewing
September 1 – 30
LOCATION: Grumpy Old Men Brewing

Great beer (18 beers on tap), a fun atmosphere and a stellar philosophy – delicious beer, dog-friendly, people tolerated. Plenty of craft beers, including those brewed in the brewery, and lots of live music. It’s one of those places that locals like!

Photo Courtesy of Grumpy Old Men Brewing

September 4th – The Orange Walls
September 11th – Barefoot Boon
September 18th – Radio Rangers
September 25th – Travis Bowlin

Appalachian Cookery
September 11
LOCATION: The Folk Apothic

Photo Courtesy of the Folk Apothic

The Appalachian ladies are back in the midst of harvest season to share some of their favorite Autumn recipes. As always, they will prepare, cook, and share cooking secrets and recipes before sitting down and breaking bread together.

The Outsider
September 17 – 30
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Community Theater

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Ridge Community Theater

Live theater is back! Take in a show at the Blue Ridge Community Theater and just in time for the election, this comedy will have you laughing all the way to the polls!

Discovery Days at Project Chimp
September 26 – 27
LOCATION: Project Chimps

Kids and kids at heart will enjoy this special day of art and discovery at the Project Chimps sanctuary for former research chimpanzees. Spend a few hours with the chimps to see their forever home. Tour the sanctuary and learn about the lives of the chimps!

NEW HOMES ADDED TO OUR PROGRAM

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but to truly appreciate the magnificence of Star Mountain you have to see it in person. High on a hilltop and nestled in the trees on three wooded acres, it makes a great first impression, with stunning long-range mountain vistas that will take your breath away. Spacious enough to accommodate large families or a group of friends yet cozy and intimate, Star Mountain will make you feel relaxed, at peace, and at home as you disconnect from life’s stresses and reconnect with nature.

Entering Fireside Retreat you can’t help but feel a comfortable inviting vibe with its soaring ceiling, exposed beams and floor to ceiling stone fireplace greeting you! Featuring two great rooms, on the lower and upper level, each has a stone gas fireplace with 55” Smart TV outfitted with DirecTV and Apple TV. The lower level modeled after a late 1800s English pub is an experience of itself and has been dubbed The Green Dragon. It features a foosball table, electronic dart board, an array of family games as well as some captivating décor that is better seen than described! The Green Dragon also features a full bar area with a full size refrigerator, sink and microwave.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

EXTREME OUTDOORS FOR THE BRAVE AT HEART

The moments when we conquer our fears are the moments when we feel most alive! Extreme activities in the great outdoors allow you to capture the place we all call home from an entirely different perspective. You’ll be chasing the adrenaline rush for days to come! And what better place to try out a new and unusual outdoor activity than in the Blue Ridge Mountains?
These 7 extreme activities will swipe you off your feet…literally!

HOW DID THE BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS FORM?

When we say the old Blue Ridge mountains, we mean it! As part of the Appalachian mountain range, the Blue Ridge mountains are the second oldest range in the whole world. Over 1 BILLION years ago, shifts in our Earth’s tectonic plates caused the Blue Ridge mountains to form in a system of peaks and valleys that span eight states! Learn more about how the Blue Ridge Mountains formed.

Mountain Flora & Blue Ridge Fauna



The Blue Ridge mountains are an ideal habitat for both vegetation and animal life due to several factors including rainfall, climate, and soil types. In just Blue Ridge alone, 40% of our county’s land is located in and protected by the Chattahoochee National Forest which creates a safe environment for abundant flora and fauna to thrive.

Our mountain ranges are covered in over 140 species of trees and is notably one of the most extensive broad-leaved deciduous forests still flourishing in the world. The combination of southern plant growth known as the Appalachian Forests put on quite the dramatic show throughout the year making fall one of the most popular times to visit and experience all the changing colors of fall. Let’s take a look at some of the more popular plants and animals that inhabit this special region.

Mountain Laurel

Photo Courtesy of bbg.org

The evergreen Mountain Laurel is a staple plant in the hills of the Appalachian Mountains. Tolerant to shade, these North American shrubs produce gorgeous flowers in the late spring and early summer. The spectacular blooms range in color from white to pink to deep rose and have distinctive and symmetrical purple dots or streaks. Mountain Laurel is slow growing, but average 6-15 feet in height. You will often see mountain furniture and home accents made out of the bark of the Mountain Laurel. Of Note: These plants are poisonous if ingested.

Rhododendron

Photo Courtesy of Gardening Know How

The evergreen Rhododendron come in many shapes and sizes, but they are most known for their spectacular blossoms that appear in the early spring to mid-summer in a variety of colors. The blossoms can be pure white, soft pink, yellow, red, purple and blue! Of Note: These plants are poisonous if ingested.

Azaleas

Photo Courtesy of Old Farmer’s Almanac

Azaleas were designated, in Georgia, as the official state wildflower in 1979. A relative to the Rhododendron, and in fact a part of the Rhododendron genus, but as all azaleas are rhododendrons, not all rhododendrons are azaleas. Similarly, azaleas bloom in brilliant colors like scarlet, crimson, orange and more. The main difference between the rhodies and the azaleas is the leaf size, quantity of stamen, and azaleas are deciduous as opposed to its evergreen cousins. Of Note: These plants are poisonous if ingested.

Fun Fact

Photo Courtesy of Hamilton Gardens at Lake Chatuge

Close by in Hiawassee, there are rhododendron gardens filled with azaleas, mountain laurels, and many other native Georgia plants. Plan to visit The Hamilton Gardens at Lake Chatuge and learn more about area flora. Admission is a suggested $5 donation.

Cherokee Rose

Photo Courtesy of petals from the past

The official state flower of Georgia is also found thriving in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Cherokee Rose is both beautiful and interesting. Rooted in Cherokee legend, the Cherokee Rose is said to have been created from the tears of Native American mothers crying for their children journeying on the Trail of Tears. The fragrant rose is white for their tears, a gold center represents the gold taken from Cherokee lands, and 7 leaves for the 7 Cherokee clans. The evergreen Cherokee Rose plant is a climbing shrub that has antibacterial properties.

Whitetail Deer

Photo Courtesy of My Canyon Lake

Probably the most common and most exciting animal to see grazing in the woods. These beautiful animals are the smallest of the North American deer population and graze on leaves, corn, fruits, and acorns. Male deer are called bucks and are easily recognizable by their antlers which grow each year and fall off in the winter! The female deer are called does and they give birth to 1-3 fawns a year. The best time to spot deer are at dawn and at dusk since deer are primarily nocturnal animals.

Wild Turkey

Photo Courtesy of CTpost

You might see wild turkeys on the side of the road on your drive up to the mountains or out in a field foraging with their flock. Turkey are a large game bird with a long neck and long legs. Male turkeys are distinguished by their unfeathered heads and large red throat known as a “gobble”. Turkeys can fly short distances and often roost in trees or under shrubs.

Black Bear

Photo Courtesy of Scott Michael Anna

The Black Bear is the smallest of the North American bears. These bears are ominivores which means they eat both plants and meat. Bears are also nocturnal which means they sleep during the day and come out to hunt at night. While we are intrigued by them, it is best for black bears to meander through the woods without human interaction.

Bird is the Word

Male Rose Breasted Grosbeak Photo Courtesy of Scott M Anna

Birding is a popular pastime for nature lovers and there are more than 80 species of migratory birds and 200 species of  native x to spot in the mountains! The Georgia State bird, the Brown Thrasher, can be seen here along with the Ruffed Grouse, Owls, Ravens, Wrens, Woodpeckers, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and many varieties of Warblers and Hawks including Bald Eagles.

Coyote

Photo Courtesy of WFAE

Resembling a small dog, coyotes are indeed canines, but they are not of domesticated variety. They have keen eyesight, an acute sense of smell, and the ability to quickly adapt to a variety of habitats. In the evenings you may hear distant high pitched cries, shrieks, barking or howling as these animals communicate with each other. Contrary to popular believe, coyotes do not hunt in packs, but are primarily solo hunters and are effective in maintaining a balance in Georgia’s rodent population.

What’s Swimming in the Blue Ridge Waters?



Exploring the flowing waters in Blue Ridge can be such fun! There are many types of wildlife that are easily discovered, while some creatures remain hiding in their secret spots where only they know. The two main waterways where our water-bound friends live are Lake Blue Ridge and the Toccoa River. These bodies of water are known for their stunning location, scenery, and marine life. Other bodies of water include local streams and ponds. The Blue Ridge Mountains are an ideal habitat for a variety of animals. The rocky terrain, cool streams, and climate all provide support for the aquatic animals’ lives.

Bog Turtle

Photo Courtesy of Turtle Conservancy

Bog turtles are the smallest turtle species in North America at about 11.5 inches in length. These turtles tend to hang out on the banks of streams and soak up sunlight. They are most active between late March to early October. Bog turtles tend to favor wet areas and thick, dense vegetation to live in. Their black/brown shell can easily camouflage them on pieces of wood. Certain bog turtles will have a yellow/orange stripe or patches throughout their shell. Bog turtles are one of the most rare turtles found in the United States and are currently critically endangered.

Northern Water Snake

Photo Courtesy of Raritan Headwaters

Don’t be scared, these slithering non-venomous fellas can’t harm you! These snakes may make you squirm, but it’s not you that they’re after. Georgia has almost 50 species of snakes, and only six are venomous. The venomous and notorious Copperhead snake is commonly mistaken as a Northern Water Snake. But these two differ by the shape of their heads, swimming path, and pattern of their eyes. Rivers, lakes, swamps, and ponds are where Northern Water snakes like to camp out at. They tend to be dark-colored snakes, with tan, black or brown scales. If they are young or wet, their scales will display a vivid pigment. Their diets consist primarily of amphibians and fish.

Brook Trout

Photo Courtesy of FishingBooker

Also, known as ‘brookies’, Brook Trout are a beautiful speckled fish that is found throughout North America. Since they are often found in clean, cool mountain waters, the Blue Ridge Mountains are a perfect spot for some to call home. Mostly active during dusk and dawn, Brook Trout are likely found in deeper waters during the day. Aquatic insects are their favorite choice of food. They also will eat smaller fish, ants, and beetles when available.

Brown Trout

Photo Courtesy of Animals.net

While they may look like Brook Trout, they are a different species! Brown Trout often have a brassy appearance, and display olive-brown to black spots along their sides. Due to their large size, they are a dominant predatory fish amidst their environment. They become a threat to smaller, native fish that also live in the mountain waters. If the Brown Trout population is smaller than 12 inches, they will feast on aquatic insects. But if they become larger than 12 inches, they will snack on crayfish and smaller fish. 

Rainbow Trout

Photo Courtesy of We Sport Fish

For good reason, Blue Ridge is referred to as the Trout Capital of Georgia. Rainbow Trout were given their name due to their colorful appearance. The color of these fish can depend on their age and habitat. They prefer the chilly and clear waters that are found in these Blue Ridge Mountains. Rainbow trout are surprisingly a member of the salmon family. Does their pink stripe give it away? They survive off insects and smaller fish.

Smallmouth Bass

Photo Courtesy of Game & Fish

Smallmouth Bass are found primarily in the rocky and deeper areas of Lake Blue Ridge. These fish prefer waters that are fast-flowing and enjoy pools with gravel bottoms. The reason that Smallmouth Bass do well in Lake Blue Ridge is because of the cool water temperature. Crayfish can be a staple in their diet, but when small fish are present, they also feed on those. Smallmouth Bass are a part of the sunfish family. and are known to leap through the water!

Walleye

Photo Courtesy of Coastal Angler Magazine

Walleyes tend to stick together in small groups when cruising through the North Georgia waters. They are known to chase each other and swim in circles when in their small groups. Walleyes are native to lakes and streams. They have large, glassy eyes (hence the name) that help them catch their prey. But the downfall is that their eyes appear under lights during nighttime, which makes them easily catchable.

Crayfish

Photo Courtesy of Self-Reliance

Mudbugs, crayfish, crawdads, or crawfish… call ‘em what you want! Depending on where you live, you may even call these speedy crustaceans a different name. They require clean water to live, so they are commonly found in ponds, lakes, rivers, and streams in North Georgia. They are active most of the year until the water drops in the winter.  Crayfish adapt their bodies to their surrounding environments and blend in with the waters around them. They peruse along the floor of the creek or lake bed and will bury themselves under rocks. Crayfish are scavengers and will hunt for fish, eggs, and aquatic vegetation to feed on.

Green Salamander

Photo Courtesy of Marshall University

The Green Salamander is speedy and often slimy, and not to be mistaken for a lizard. While they can be spotted on land and water, they must have a water source nearby to keep their skin moist. Salamanders also have their offspring which hatch from eggs and remain in the water. Crevices in rocks and bark from fallen trees are where salamanders can be found when not re-moisturizing.