The Marriage of Moonshine and Music



National Moonshine Day is observed annually on the first Thursday in June. Yes, we are posting this in October, and we don’t expect you to remember this date eight months from now. Truth is, you can turn just about any day into a celebration partaking in some good ole mountain white lightning. But where can you get your hands on it? Stay with us for the answer to that question.

Prohibition

For years, visitors to our area would ask their waitresses at diners, gas station attendants, and the guy who gave them the key to their room at the local travel lodge (in a quiet whisper) where they might get their hands on some of the illegal potables these hills were noted to produce. In the ’50s and ’60s, if one of those tourists was lucky enough to land him a ball jar bottle of the mountain hooch, there’s a great possibility it came from the still of American Appalachian moonshiner  Jack “Mimm” McClure.

Everyone knew of Jack in these parts. He was easy to spot when he came to town. With his big 250 lb frame and always in a Stetson hat, he opened doors for the ladies, spoke kindly to children and was noted for his philanthropic generosity of spirit. Still, he made his fortune selling illegal spirits. He had a reputation for influencing the election of many politicians in the local and state seats. He also had his own ideas when justice should be served. The late Georgia Governor and McClure’s fellow Towns County native Zell Miller wrote of Jack, “He was loved, hated, respected, and feared, depending upon the experience one had had with him.”

The Music

McClure was dubbed “Grandaddy Mimm” by his grandchildren and that became his moniker amongst the folks in the mountains. He succumbed to pancreatic cancer in 1969. With his passing, so did an era of illegal bootlegging. But this is just where our story gets more interesting.

One of Jack’s grandkids, Tommy Townsend was a “gitar” player who as a youngin’ fell in love with the music of Waylon Jennings. Now Jennings could easily be to country music what Tommy’s Grandaddy Mimm was to moonshine. They were both outlaws with class, who had a presence that no one could quite forget. Townsend’s parents got him behind stage to meet Jennings many years ago. Waylon took a liking to the boy and brought him into the Jennings family fold.  Waylon was Tommy’s mentor but it was Waylon’s son Shooter Jennings who became Tommy’s friend. Since 2008 Townsend and 4 other former members of the Jennings band have been entertaining fans as the Waymore’s Outlaws. In 2014 they began opening for Shooter Jennings and then backing him as his set in concerts all over the country. This year Tommy released his solo debut album “Turn Back the Clock”. Shooter Jennings produced the project. 

Who’s Your Grandaddy?

Tommy never forgot his North Georgia roots nor his Grandaddy Mimm. He also held the family secret recipe to Grandaddy’s famous moonshine as well as the schematics to the still his Grandaddy designed many years before. In 2012, Townsend announced his plans to recreate his Grandaddy’s legacy, only this time, it would be within the law.

Today, you can tour the Grandaddy Mimm’s Corn Whiskey Distillery located in Blairsville GA, just a thirty-minute drive from Blue Ridge. Tours are given daily, but on Saturday’s you get to meet and chat with the head distiller and get to see the whole “still” in action. Your imagination of the outlaw days of moonshine starts to unfurl as soon as you drive up to the building that houses the museum and distillery. Inside you’ll find so many eclectic relics from those days as well as an enormous, interesting array of music memorabilia and instruments collected by Townsend over the years.

The Shine

Taste tasting this hooch is also encouraged. The choices are tough to make. Just four ingredients, corn, sugar, yeast, and water produce all of the moonshines, including the Mule Kickin 140 proof. The 96 proof  Peach is their biggest seller. It’s hard to find a naturally flavored high octane whiskey, and it makes for some very interesting mixed drink recipes. There are also Apple, Cherry and Blueberry options, all using natural extracts. Plan on taking a jar or three home for great souvenir memories. The gift shop also has an abundant selection of shirts, hats and other mementos to bring back home.

When you mosey up to the bar, take note of its fine detail and its rich wood design. If you are a cult fan of the movie  “Coyote Ugly”, this is the very bar that LeeAnn Rhimes ascends to join leading ladies Piper Perabo, Maria Bello, and Bridget Moynahan to dance while she sings “Can’t Fight the Moonlight”. 

Plan Your Trip

The Distillery is located on your way to many of this region’s most visited autumn viewing spots and waterfalls, including Brasstown Bald, Vogel State Park, Richard Russell National Scenic Byway, and the Byron Herbert Reece Farm and Heritage Center.  The distillery is open  Monday through Saturday from 11am to 6pm.

Grandaddy Mimm’s legacy lives on through the distillery and his grandson’s music. When you view Townsend’s recently released music video for his song “Drinkin”, look closely at the ball jars on the bar. You might just recognize some of that high octane corn “licker” that made Jack McClure a North Georgia legend. 

If it’s a Rainy Day in Georgia



When you escape to the mountains, you look forward to being able to explore the great outdoors, to take scenic rides through the Blue Ridge foothills and highlands, seek out a waterfall and enjoy an evening around the fire pit, sipping wine while the kids gorge on toasted marshmallows. Sometimes Mother Nature plays havoc with your plans, aiming her watering hose right at your coveted vacation spot. When this occurs, don’t let it keep you from enjoying what Blue Ridge has to offer. Lots of our best activities are under roof.

Museums

OK, we do not have internationally renowned art museums like NYC and Paris, but we do have one of the largest selections of local and regional fine artists works located at the Blue Ridge Art Association Center in downtown Blue Ridge. There are two stories of art to peruse, in a beautiful setting, the restored old Fannin County Courthouse.  On exhibit this fall will be two shows not to be missed. From Oct. 5th through November 9th, the 12th Annual SAAG National Juried Art Show will be on exhibit, with artists entries from 25 states. And Oct 5th through January 4th, the Photography of Jerry Mucklow, Artist In Residence will be showcased. Half of the works of Mr. Mucklow’s show will be the many frames he’s captured of the Blue Ridge area, and the other half will feature the Coastal South.

Photo Courtesy of Jerry Mucklow

If art isn’t your thing, but legendary mountain men are more your interest, then take a quick ride just east of the city to visit EXPEDITION: BIGFOOT! The Sasquatch Museum. This museum may have you giggling on the way in the door, but you will leave with a new appreciation for your next walk in the woods. You’ll discover why Bigfooters from around the globe make the pilgrimage to Blue Ridge just to explore this museum and its many relics.

Let the “Spirits” Move You

It’s always fun to meet folks around a local tavern and Grumpy Old Men Brewery is a great place to make some new friends and enjoy some amazing craft beer. TV’s are on and there are game tables to play, but nothing can compare to imbibing in a few flights of microbrew, shooting the bull with locals and a great bartending staff at Trip Advisor’s #5 Top Attraction in Blue Ridge. Kids are welcome, too. They have a great root beer on tap for those too young or the designated driver of the group. They open at noon Tuesday thru Sunday and are located at 1315 E. Main St. in Downtown Blue Ridge. 

Photo Courtesy of Jerry Mucklow

If you prefer grape to a hop, then a taste testing at Serenberry Vineyards is perfect on a day of drizzle. Located in sister city Morganton GA, the tasting room is situated in a restored 1920’s barn. You’ll enjoy tasting the fine wines grown on this 3rd generation family farm and hear some interesting stories of this region. A kickback afternoon we highly recommend.

Let’s Play Games

Remember when you were kids and the best Sunday afternoon was when you went bowling with your family?  If you want to go back to those days, before the time where digital light shows flashed blinding lights and wild music drowned out the family laughter over a barrage of gutter balls thrown by Dad, then you want to visit Fannin Lanes. This classic bowling center has twelve wooden lanes,all kept in excellent condition. There are automatic bumper rails for the kids. They are a non-smoking, family entertainment facility, reasonably priced and just the ideal way to wait out the rain. And they are open seven days a week and holidays.

Photo Courtesy of Escape Blue Ridge

If tossing a 12 lb polyester ball down a lane doesn’t excite the family, then maybe they want to take on Escape Room: Blue Ridge. An escape room is an adventure game in which players are “locked” in a room and have to use elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles and escape within a set time limit (60 minutes). The games are physical versions of “escape the room” video games. It’s fun for the whole family, or if you and a friend are just a duo, they will find you new friends to take on the challenge. It’s a unique, fun way to kill an hour that you’ll be talking about for many more hours, many more days, and many more years to come.

Now, we’ve pretty much helped you fill in several rainy days, though we hope the sun shines bright on you during your stay with us. All of these activities are enjoyable on sunny days, too. Welcome to Blue Ridge, where we always know how to have fun!

Fall for Blue Ridge



As the season changes from summer to fall, make sure you don’t miss out on the crisp weather, changing leaves and fun fall festivals 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

Habitat for Humanity Wine and Dine at Blue Jeans Pizza and Pasta
October 1
LOCATION: Blue Jeans Pizza and Pasta

Photo Courtesy of Habitat for Humanity of Fannin & Gilmer Counties

There’s nothing better than excellent wine and food, unless it’s consuming both for a good cause. Enjoy wine pairings with a selection of salmon, chicken cordon bleu, lamb chops, or lasagna with all proceeds benefiting Habitat for Humanity of Gilmer and Fannin County. Live entertainment and a silent auction round out the event.

Firefly Summer Jazz Concert – Nate Najar & Daniela Soledade
October 3
LOCATION: Undisclosed Location

Photo Courtesy of Firefly Summer Jazz Concert Series

House concerts are an old concept made new, and they are growing in popularity. It’s a new/old way of helping to sustain music arts in a radically changing music industry landscape. For the audience it provides exceptional acoustics in an intimate environment, where you can meet neighbors and new friends, and get to know the performers personally. Najar and Soledade are accomplished jazz and acoustical guitar performers with an international following.

Vietnam Memorial Traveling Wall
October 3 – 7
LOCATION: Behind Fannin County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Photo Courtesy of The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Moving Wall

For those who haven’t had a chance to visit the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC, the traveling version provides a scaled version of the same thing, and it brings it to your hometown. In October it’s coming to Blue Ridge. The display, a 3/5 scale, stands as a reminder of the sacrifices made during the Vietnam War. The Wall travels to help heal the emotional wounds of that war, and to rekindle friendships of that era.

Grumpy Old Men Brewing
October 4 – 25
LOCATION: Grumpy Old Men Brewing

Photo Courtesy of Grumpy Old Men Brewing

Visit Grumpy Old Men Brewing for great live music and delicious beer! Eighteen beers are currently on tap, and new brews are added frequently! Open Tuesday through Saturday. Dogs are welcome and people are tolerated!

October 4 – Mike Bohnam
October 6 – Barktoberfest
October 18 – Steve Baskin
October 25 – Greg Erwin

Music at The Blue Coyote
October 4 – 26
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!

October 4 – Natti Lovejoys
October 5 – Slickfoot
October 11 – Southern Vantage
October 12 – Breaking Point
October 18 – BEATS Workin’
October 19 – Mind the Stepchildren
October 25 – Fiction
October 26 – Gregg Erwin Band

Namaste and Cabernet
October 5
LOCATION: Bear Claw Vineyards

Photo Courtesy of Yoga Over Blue Ridge

Here’s your monthly opportunity to drink wine with no guilt. A yoga workout – then drink wine. Easy. The guided yoga lasts about an hour – the wine tasting and wine drinking has no set time parameters. Enjoy!

Georgia Marble Festival
October 5 – 6
LOCATION: Jasper, GA

Photo Courtesy of Georgia Marble Festival

These are not marbles. Those small, round things that young boys and girls used to “shoot”, kneeling on the floor, or trading them. Remember “purees”, “cat eyes” and “steelys”? No, this festival is a celebration of indigenous rocks, quarries, and local art. Tate marble is historic and world famous and marble quarry tours will be given during the festival.

John C. Campbell Fall Festival
October 5 – 6
LOCATION: John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC

Photo Courtesy of John C. Campbell Folk School

One of the best ways to enjoy fall is with others who enjoy it just as much as you do! You can do that at the John C. Campbell Fall festival, in the company of a couple hundred of your closest, new friends, and among nearly 300 art and crafts vendors from throughout the region. Traditional and contemporary crafts; bluegrass, gospel, folk, and Celtic music on both days. Tap your toes to clogging demonstrations or just listen to the music. It all takes place on the Brasstown, NC campus, home to hiking trails, and winding wooded paths.

Woof and then Woof again!
October 5 – 6
LOCATION:
Pours for Pups (Willowcreek Falls and Vineyard) & Barktoberfest (Grumpy Old Men Brewing)

Photo Courtesy of Humane Society of Blue Ridge

Two separate events, two separate places, on two different days – both benefiting local pet rescues. The first, a football party at a vineyard, with raffles, live music and football on large screens, will take place October 5 (Pours for Pups benefits Tri-State Pet Rescue). The second, innovatively called “Barktoberfest” on October 6, also will feature live music, a silent auction and raffles, to benefit the Humane Society of Blue Ridge. Not surprisingly, Grumpy Old Men Brewing is dog-friendly.

Southern Appalachian Artists Guild (SAAG) Juried Art Show
October 5 – 9
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Art Association, Downtown Blue Ridge

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association (The Art Center)‎

Artists from a large number of states, and perhaps even a few foreign countries, will compete for cash prizes in this 12th annual juried art show. The entries, including show winners, will be on display in the Arts Center in Downtown Blue Ridge from October 5th – 9th. Opening reception is October 5th from 5pm – 7pm.

Paradise Hills Vineyard and Winery
October 5 – 26
LOCATION: Paradise Hills, Blairsville

Photo Courtesy of Paradise Hills

Paradise Hills is a boutique farm with vineyards, featuring handcrafted wines, live music on weekends, and a charming, laid-back tasting room.

October 5 – Scott Stambaugh
October 12 – Troy Underwood
October 19 – Dr. Paul
October 26 – Curtis Jones

Cartecay Vineyards
October 5 – 27
LOCATION: Cartecay Vineyards

Photo Courtesy of Cartecay Vineyards

A beautiful vineyard and winery set in pastoral farmlands in the heart of the Southern Appalachians. Cartacay’s wine history dates to 2007, but it’s heritage is comprised of Cherokee roots (in fact, Cartecay translates to “bread valley”). The winery features plenty of locally sourced wines, tastings and special events, plus live music on most weekends.

October 5 – Craig Hendricks
October 6 – Scott Stambaugh
October 12 – Timothy O’Donovan
October 13 – Man Bites Dog
October 19 – Gregg Erwin
October 20 – Adrian Stover
October 20 – Surrender Hill
October 26 – Adrian Stover
October 27 – Johnny Summers

Cherry Log Fall Festival
October 6 – 20
LOCATION: Cherry Log Community Club House

Photo Courtesy of Fannin County Chamber of Commerce

What’s even more fun than a town called Cherry Log? Why, a festival in a town called Cherry Log, of course! And this one goes on for three straight weekends in October! Homemade everything (cakes, pies, canned goods, crafts, breakfast, lunch, etc.) and some good old fashioned bluegrass, gospel and country music. Festival hours are 9am – 5pm each weekend day.

Georgia Mountain Fall Festival
October 11 – 19
LOCATION: Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, Hiawassee

Photo Courtesy of Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds

You’ve got to love a fair that spans weekdays, welcoming visitors for nine straight days! That gives you a chance to enjoy this annual event during large crowd days and during quiet times. You can even plan a fair food lunch. As usual, this year’s fair will feature musical performances, arts and crafts vendors, educational demonstrations, a flower show and, one of the fair’s annual highlights, Georgia’s Official State Fiddlers’ Convention.

Blue Ridge Ultra Marathon Race
October 12
LOCATION: Chattahoochee National Forest

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Adventure Race

Anytime there’s an adjective in front of a race, you should pay attention. It’s usually a pretty clear indicator that there’s going to be something different, challenging, or outrageous about this race. In the case of the Blue Ridge Ultra Race, the Ultra means a 50 mile running race, including six miles of hidden trails and nine miles of Forest Service road, with creek crossings, steep ascents, even steeper descents, jumping over logs and sometimes quite, as they say, “technical” spots throughout this 50 mile race. Needless to say, this race challenges the most expert racer, but 50 miles is not required; there are also 30 and 15 mile options over the same terrain. Whew!

Blue Ridge Marching Band Festival
October 12
LOCATION: Fannin County High School Football Field


Photo Courtesy of Fannin County Chamber of Commerce

More than two dozen bands will compete, with bands ranging in size from 40 members to more than 150 members, for regional honors.

Fall Arts in the Park Festival
October 12 – 13
LOCATION: Downtown Blue Ridge City Park

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association (The Art Center)‎

A true sign of autumn, the fall version of Blue Ridge’s popular Arts in the Park, set amidst the lovely, tree-filled downtown park, with fresh food smells all around, local art, special events and musical performances.

Sorghum Festival
October 12 – 13; 19 – 20
LOCATION: Meeks Park, Blairsville

Photo Courtesy of Blairsville Sorghum Festival

Sorghum is one of those mystery words. Pork product? Dental affliction? Nope. It’s actually a cereal grain that grows tall, like corn, but boiled down it produces a sugary-like syrup. You’d be able to deduce that from one item on a list of events that’s part of this annual festival: a biscuit eating contest, with sorghum on top. You may know sorghum better by its full name – sorghum molasses. Whether the taste speaks to you or not, this festival also features live music, arts, crafts, and more fun contests like rock throwing and log sawing!

Georgia Apple Festival
October 12 – 13; 19 – 20
LOCATION: Ellijay Lions Club Fairgrounds

Photo Courtesy of Georgia Apple Festival

For 46 years, apples have brought folks together in Ellijay, East Ellijay and Gilmer County. These days, people come from all over for the apples, the parade, the antique car show, the arts and crafts, and almost everything you can imagine (or eat) made from apples!

Heritage Days Festival
October 19 – 20
LOCATION: Talking Rock, GA

Photo Courtesy of Talking Rock Heritage Days Festival

Spoiler alert: the rock doesn’t actually talk! But this is a cute event in a charming town with everything you’d expect of North Georgia autumn beauty in small town America. Antiques, bluegrass and Southern gospel music, and plenty of food.

NEW HOMES ADDED TO OUR PROGRAM

Like the private treehouse retreat you loved as a kid but a thousand times more spectacular, Little Bird Landing is a hillside oasis that elevates the idea of living in the woods to a whole new level. With a wraparound deck, soaring vaulted ceilings and enormous windows that showcase the magnificent long-range mountain views from every angle, this rustic yet modern showplace has everything you desire in a Blue Ridge vacation hideaway. The cabin can accommodate eight guests in its three comfortable bedrooms plus a queen-size pullout sofa in the game room. Whether you’re planning a family vacation, a couples’ weekend, or a getaway with your best friends, Little Bird Landing offers you fun, peace and quiet, and all the comforts of an exclusive resort in a breathtaking mountain setting.

Located on a mountaintop in Morganton, GA, and named for the deer you’re likely to see nearby, the custom-built, beautifully designed and decorated cabin has wraparound decks that showcase long-range mountain views from sunrise to sunset. Deer Haven Hideaway has three comfortable bedrooms, one per floor and featuring hand-carved queen beds, and luxurious bedding designed to create a cozy, warm, and inviting setting. Each has access to the covered decks through French Doors. At this magnificent mountain oasis, it’s all about relaxation, with an ambiance that encourages you to exhale, unwind, and de-stress while enjoying time with family and friends.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Photo Courtesy of Old Toccoa Farm

THE ART OF FINE GOLF

Just as with restaurants, we all have a wide variety of choices in the world of golf experiences. In North Georgia, you can easily find a golf course to suit your basic needs, then spend a couple of hours chasing the small ball, in high traffic, over unremarkable terrain, or you can be more discerning and decide to play a more sophisticated and truly exceptional track. When you Escape to Blue Ridge, you have many choices within a short driving distance from you cabin. Let’s take a look at a few great options. Keep Reading.

Fire Pit Fixings



Last week this blog featured a tremendous round up of cabins with great firepits. One of our favorite things about the weather changing is sitting around the fire pit with a chill in the air, but you are completely warm, not just by the heat of the fire but by the company you are so enjoying.  Adding to the ambiance of the evening includes singing songs, swapping tall tales, and of course fire pit cooking!

It’s so fun if someone in your group has a guitar or harmonica, they could play for everyone to sing and clap along, but you don’t even need music to sing your favorite campfire songs! Telling ghost stories always proves to be a good time too. Although the ghost stories typically end up in squeals of laughter because you know that one person that is SUPER scared and they end up falling out of the chair, jumping & panicking, or making funny noises as they try to tame their heebee geebies. Oh yes, good times! Most importantly, you can’t forget about marshmallows!

Who doesn’t love to roast marshmallows? This might be the best and most memorable part about having an outside fire. First, you go on a stick hunt to find that perfect length and sturdiness then roast your marshmallow to the perfect amount of burnt that you prefer. Or, take it to the next level and break out the chocolate and Graham crackers for a melt in your mouth, perfectly crafted s’mores! But s’mores aren’t the only thing you can cook over the fire. Try one (or all) of these “fire pit fixing” ideas next time you Escape to Blue Ridge!

The Healthy-ish Approach

Have you ever considered roasting fruit over an open fire? No? Well, you should because it is F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S! Choose from pineapple, bananas, watermelon, apples or peaches. The fruit sugars almost caramelize making for a divinely delicious guilt free treat. Of course, having a little caramel or chocolate on hand to dip your roasted fruit into never hurt anyone, and definitely adds more “pow” to your taste buds! Make ahead fruit kabobs or just place them on your stick like you would a marshmallow! Side note: strawberries dipped in marshmallow fluff and then roasted will make your mouth do a happy dance!

Go Fancy

Who says fire pit cooking has to be basic and boring? Impress your guests with fireside Shrimp Scampi! This meal is super easy to prepare, but even more divine to eat! All you need is foil, butter, peeled & deveined shrimp, a little lemon, and your favorite seasonings. We typically improvise with a little bit of this and a little bit of that, but for you by-the-bookers, here’s a simple go to recipe with exact measurements.

Classic

It may not be fancy, but there is something extra delicious about a roasted hot dog! It really doesn’t get any easier than this. Pick your favorite dog, we are partial to the Hebrew National all beef hot dogs, pierce it with your stick and roast away. You can even toast your hot dog bun on a stick for a well-rounded hot dog experience!

Kid Friendly

Fast, easy and delicious…that’s my kind of cooking!  You can prepare these French bread pizzas ahead of time or create a little make-your-own station on the picnic table. Slice your French bread, cover with marina sauce, add your favorite toppings (pepperoni, mushrooms, Canadian bacon, olives) and finish with mozzarella cheese. Wrap your creation in heavy duty aluminum foil and throw them on the fire!

Dare To Be Different

Super easy, but super delicious is campfire cinnamon rolls! Simply buy your favorite brand of refrigerated cinnamon rolls, we personally love Pillsbury Grands. All you have to do is unroll a cinnamon bun and divide the long pieces of dough into sections. Wrap a portion around your stick, careful not overlap for even cooking, and roast away!  

Next Level S’mores

Bacon. Yes, you read that right. A little graham cracker, a little marshmallow, a little chocolate, and a couple of pieces of bacon (which you could also roast over the fire) will have your tongue jump out and lick the eyebrows right off your head!

We also encourage you to mix up your chocolate options. Truth be told, it’s hard to beat a piece of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, but have you ever thought of using a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup? What about a Kit Kat Bar? We suggest you try a York Peppermint Patty next time, you won’t regret it. In fact, you may never go back to the traditional s’mores again!

Adults Only

If you’re looking for a way to warm up from the inside out, a Hot Toddy is definitely in order and extra enjoyable sitting outside by the fire. Boil water over your fire and add a tea bag to your cup. Let your tea steep for about two minutes, then add a shot (or two) of whiskey, a little honey, a slice of lemon, and some cloves for extra spice. Bam! Now we are ready to make some fireside memories!

10 Cabins with Awesome Fire Pits



There are a lot of Blue Ridge mountain cabin rentals with great views, charming décor and proximity to activities and recreation destinations. Some have many bedrooms and are great for large families and groups of friends, and some are cozy and quaint that are perfect for a small family or a two-couple or BFF getaway. Regardless of the cabin size and location after the sun sets and dusk falls across the mountains what better way to relax than to sit around the fire pit with your favorite people telling stories, roasting marshmallows, and creating memories to last a lifetime. On your next Escape to Blue Ridge, consider one of these ten cabins that have fantastic fire pits!

Bearway To Heaven

Perched on a forested hillside with an absolutely breathtaking view of the lush green mountains in the distance and Lake Blue Ridge shimmering below, this magnificent log home is surrounded by the glory of nature, and close to all the outdoor activities that the Aska Adventure Area has to offer.
Inside, its cathedral ceilings and huge windows let in light, create an open and airy feel, and maximize the view. Sunrises are especially spectacular! Or you can take in the view from a rocking chair or roast marshmallows over the fire pit, which has five colorful Adirondack chairs encircling it.

After the day’s activities, you’ll slumber in comfort in one of five comfortable bedrooms, each with luxurious bedding and a unique quilt. But the best thing about Bearway to Heaven is the blissful way you’ll feel when you’re there, and the memories of that feeling that you’ll take home with you.

Big Buck Lodge

Big Buck Lodge is a charming mountain chalet in a lovely wooded setting. But what sets this tri-level vacation home apart from the others are the unique, one of a kind touches you won’t find anywhere else. Built by local craftsman Jerry Sisson of Jerry’s Mountain Furniture for his daughter, it’s made of handcrafted wood floor-to-ceiling and throughout the house, with unique log beds and branch chairs and tables in every room.

Each of the three bedrooms are outfitted with a queen bed topped with a cozy quilt and a screened-in deck or balcony. There’s plenty of seating on the lower screened-in porch, including rocking chairs and a swing. Afterward, you can have a relaxing soak in the hot tub, or toast marshmallows over the fire pit while you enjoy the evening breeze. Big Buck Lodge’s ambiance is its best attribute. Its seasonal glorious views of mountain sunrises and sunsets, serene natural setting and the relaxed and happy way you’ll feel while you’re there make for an unforgettable getaway.

Cohutta Overlook

This cabin’s name, ‘Cohutta Overlook‘ tells it like it is — this home is perched beautifully on an overlook high above the spectacular Cohutta Wilderness. With more than 40,000 mountainous acres, it is the largest wilderness east of the Mississippi and runs from Fannin County, Georgia up to the Smoky Mountains on the Tennessee/North Carolina border. And here, at the Cohutta Overlook lodge you’ll be in the distinct position to be above it all.

This cozy cabin sits peacefully on the edge of Sunrock Mountain and has panoramic year-round views. This cabin is decorated in rustic elegance with custom furniture and attention to every detail. Start your day by enjoying the view overlooking the Cohutta mountain range and witness the flight of eagles and hawks as you sip your morning coffee on the large, open porch. If you are looking for a romantic mountain getaway, enjoy the beautiful spa on the main level and then relax by the stone fire pit or curl up in front of either of the two massive, stone fireplaces inside.

Come On Inn

Come on Inn and make yourself at home. In fact, that’s the very reason this cabin was given its welcoming name. Its cozy environment will make you feel like this is your home away from home right away. The cabin’s beautiful interior mixes mountain cabin decor with charming country accents to create a unique and inviting atmosphere all its own.

This gorgeous mountain home’s riverfront location is the envy of many other Blue Ridge cabin rentals. Sitting right on the shores of the Toccoa River, close to the Aska Adventure area. In the evening, there’s no better spot for stargazing than the lovely fire pit area. Gather some chairs, listen to the river flow and the crickets chirp, and take in these special moments with family or friends. What a serene way to end each day.

Meandering Moose

Meandering Moose is custom, 3000 sq/ft. luxurious cabin in a private mountain community appropriately named Natures Courtyard. Located in the Northern portion of the Georgia mountain region, it is ideal for all seasons offering a private secluded area and a gorgeous view of the hardwoods and evergreens for which this amazing region is known. Its private and rustic setting allows you to enjoy the peacefulness of the North Georgia mountains. 

The large covered deck spans the length of the entire back of the home offering several conversation areas to have quality time with your family and friends – whether gathering in front of the gorgeous outdoor stone fireplace or eating at the outside dining table. You can also enjoy the full deck on the front of the house in the rocking chairs and outdoor swing while waiting for the occasional deer to stroll by. Take in the views from the private Master Bedroom upper deck and still watch over the kids roasting marshmallows around the beautiful stone paved fire pit.

SpyGlass

SpyGlass is the name, the view will explain.  The largest of our Blue Ridge GA cabin rentals, seize the opportunity to stay in this $5 million custom resort lodge with its own private pool and spa, where you can come and go by helicopter, and treat the entire family to 8,000 sq. ft. of pure luxury and decadence. SpyGlass is the stuff of fairy tales.  Every detail, from the large log cross-beamed ceilings down to the polished wood floors, is dressed in elegance. 

Start your morning keeping fit and healthy with the help of gym-quality weight and exercise machine.  After your workout relax as you marvel at the wide-open 40-mile views before you. Set out fresh fruit and snacks in the gazebo for your guests while they swim, sunbathe or chat at tables and chairs throughout the deck. After dark, the fire pit is an enchanted place for stargazing and making s’mores.  

Stone Pine Lodge

Stone Pine Lodge is not your typical Blue Ridge mountain cabin rental. As you’d expect, this brand new vacation home has the rustic cabin feel, secluded private setting and breathtaking view of the mountains from its tri-level decks. There are enormous windows in its great room that let you take in nature in all its expansive glory. The cabin is also the epitome of effortless modern luxury, putting everything–state-of-the-art at your fingertips. With sound system TVs, lighting, remote gas fireplaces and hot tub with Bluetooth-enabled speakers throughout all with simplistic operations, the better to relax and enjoy the comforts of your home away from home.

The cabin can accommodate 11 guests in its three comfortable bedrooms (all with custom king beds with pillow top mattresses), a loft with a twin over queen bunk bed made of striking Amish wormy wood logs, and a queen-size rough saw timber sofa lounger in the game room. Step outside onto the decks and you can fire up the gas grill for a barbecue, settle into a rocker with a drink or soak your cares away in the six-person hot tub in the warmth of the custom level gas fireplace (there’s a wood-burning one too, on the entertainment deck above). Other options for outdoor fun include horseshoes, a corn hole game, rope swing, deck hammock and fire pit with seating for 12.

Toccoa Lookout Cottage

Toccoa Lookout Cottage is not your average Blue Ridge GA cabin rental. With 3,000 square feet of gorgeously decorated living space and four bedrooms to accommodate 11 people, all the comforts of home and amenities of a private resort, and the Toccoa River running through the property, this is a very special place. Beautifully crafted with two huge decks with plenty of seating overlooking the Toccoa and a third deck down the steps at the river’s edge with a picnic table, chairs and a fire pit, the property is customized for outdoor living.

Inside, this magnificent, updated, and unique home is warm and inviting.  It is elegantly furnished and decorated in soothing, calming neutral shades that complement the serene, tranquil ambiance of its natural setting. The cottage’s greatest asset is the way it will make you feel when you’re there and remember long after you leave.

Tondelia

Stepping into Tondelia, you’ll immediately be taken by its views and open, airy feel, with spacious rooms and windows at every turn. You’ll marvel at the careful attention to detail that’s been lavished throughout the cabin, where the game room is every bit as beautiful as the main floor and gorgeous bedrooms.

Looking for pure relaxation? Lounge on the leather sofas watching the big game, warmed by the cozy gas fireplace. Grill some burgers and eat lunch on the deck during halftime. Spend the afternoon in the gorgeous game room, playing billiards or soaking in the indoor Jacuzzi, gazing out at lush and vibrant fall foliage from your magnificent windows on the world. Hire a local chef to prepare a celebratory dinner for you and your guests. Enjoy some pre-dinner drinks and music out on the deck. Then retreat to the elegant dining room, where you’ll be treated to a fabulous meal and amazing views as the stars start peeking through the skylights above you. After dinner, bring some hot chocolate or a Spanish coffee down to the fire pit. Reminisce with your old friends by the light of the moon.

Woodentops

Woodentops is the perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle of your everyday hectic life. Located in Mineral Bluff, just 15 minutes from the shops and restaurants of downtown Blue Ridge, this charming real-log cabin is the ideal family vacation destination. With room for eight guests in three bedrooms, the accommodations are spacious, comfortable and inviting.

You can breathe in fresh mountain air while relaxing with a glass of wine in a rocking chair or soaking in the soothing bubbles of the walk-in hot tub. Or settle into an Adirondack chair and pop open a bag of marshmallows to toast over the fire pit. The best thing about Woodentops is the peaceful, relaxed, refreshed way you’ll feel when you’re there, having fun with your family and friends (even the canine ones—you’re welcome to bring two small dogs). It’s the kind of magical place where memories are made, and yours will last a lifetime!

The Art of Fine Golf



Just as with restaurants, we all have a wide variety of choices in the world of golf experiences.  You can opt for the simple and cheap, just as you might choose fast food and a takeout menu, or you can refine your tastes, and choose to fine dine on the truly extraordinary. In North Georgia, you can easily find a golf course to suit your basic needs, then spend a couple of hours chasing the small ball, in high traffic, over unremarkable terrain, or you can be more discerning and decide to play a more sophisticated and truly exceptional track.

When it comes to top notch golf, it’s all about options, and in North Georgia there are a quite a few, but making the right choice requires a bit of research and careful decision making.

If you’re starting in Blue Ridge, you also have to decide if travel time and distance are important considerations. You could play Scotland or Ireland, if you had the time, resources, and inclination to travel. Even deciding to go north or south is a consideration – into congestion, or toward the more tranquil north and east. When you Escape to Blue Ridge, you have many choices within a short driving distance from you cabin. Let’s take a look at a few great options.

Chestatee Golf Club – Dawsonville, GA

Photo Courtesy of Chestatee Golf Club

Along, and just to the east of, Highway 400, about two hours from Blue Ridge, there’s a ribbon of semi-private community golf courses with a reputation for quality.  With a Lake Lanier backdrop, Chestatee is one of those courses that takes full advantage of its man-made geography, including lots of water hazards, and dramatic elevation changes.

Chestatee is a Denis Griffiths design, and his history as a golf course architect, one of the few Americans to design golf courses in St. Andrews Scotland, tells you a lot about what a golf round at Chestatee might be like (think links). Chestatee has fine practice facilities including a driving range and practice green with a bunker. It’s a course that demands some precision, but its gorgeous setting and innovative layout, encourages essential enjoyment regardless of your level of play.

Barnsley Resort – Adairsville, GA

Photo Courtesy of Barnsley Resort

In the business of golf, known architects provide preview hints to the golf experience. When it comes to the Fazio name that may mean something different, depending on the Fazio – Jim, Tom, etc.  At Barnsley, a Jim Fazio design, you can expect the usual Jim Fazio design elements: spectacular greens, strategically placed bunkers and thoughtful use of the landscape’s naturally rolling hills.

Fazio likes to bedevil, with tricky water hazards and challenging carries over water. Like the signature par 3, 17th hole, with its 196-yard tee shot to a well-protected green. Barnsley also has a reputation for fast but fair greens. In fact, one reviewer joked that players could do well to practice on hardwood floors. Funny, but no fair. The greens are true, and impeccable, which is all that counts. Players looking for a great golf experience will find it at the Fazio Course at Barnsley Resort.

Currahee Club – Toccoa, GA

Photo Courtesy of Currahee Club

Breathtaking is definitely an overused phrase, bordering on cliché. Because, really, what truly takes your breath away? A sock to the gut maybe? So, when you say that upon arrival on the first hole at Currahee, with its spectacular 50-mile views of four states and lovely Lake Hartwell, and its stunning and dramatic 200-foot tee box drop to a lush but narrow fairway is breathtaking – well, it just kinda is.

Panoramic is a good word to describe Currahee – many of the holes are well worth taking a moment to simply enjoy the view. Then it’s back to business, contending with the challenging elevation changes, considerable carries over the schmutz, and rolling your putts over generous sloping greens.  Before and after your round, you can live the life of elegance in Currahee’s tastefully appointed, and very “clubby” Clubhouse, complete with a restaurant, pub, and bar & grill.

Brasstown Valley – Young Harris, GA

Photo Courtesy of Brasstown Valley

Brasstown Valley is not to be confused with Brasstown Bald – Georgia’s highest point. But they are just around the corner from each other, which gives you a pretty clear understanding that there are major elevation changes in this part of Georgia. Translation for golf: challenging terrain.

Brasstown Valley golf has been consistently rated by Golf Digest and others as a top Georgia golf course since it opened. It’s not just the golf. Set in a tranquil resort environment, with a special emphasis on wildlife preserves, ponds, streams and mountain backdrops, golf is by no means secondary, but it certainly shares top billing when it comes to a means of peacefulness.

The course itself is another Denis Griffiths design and gets a fair amount of play as a corporate outing course, a couples getaway, or a weekend with the fellas. The facility also offers full practice facilities, a well equipped pro shop, and customized special tournaments.

Old Toccoa Farm – Blue Ridge, GA

Photo Courtesy of Old Toccoa Farm

With all due respect to those fine courses profiled above, Old Toccoa Farm is the seven-course meal of golf courses in North Georgia. It took a few years to fill out the full complement of 18 holes, but the first nine, which has been open since 2015, was enough to garner stupendous compliments and comparisons to the likes of Augusta National. Now with the back nine open, and the layout reconfigured, Old Toccoa is by far the best of the best in this neck of the North Georgia woods!

There are so many integrated, exceptional quality aspects to this golf course like bentgrass 007 greens, zoysia fairways (your ball sits atop this grass so sweetly), and a family-friendly par three/driving range combo. There are also Appalachian craftsman-style homes, just now being built, and a blue-ribbon trout stream (the Toccoa River) running along the entire length of the 416-acre property.

This golf course community is built with socializing in mind, including fire pits with golf course views, plans for bocce courts adjacent to the course, and “Nine and Dine” mixed couples golf events. But it’s the quality of the course itself that’s most striking.

Stunning lush undulating fairways, challenging roughs, and perfect greens are obvious, but management encourages players not to be intimidated, but instead to choose appropriate tee boxes suited to their level of play and to play smart. Two seven irons to a 100-yard approach might be preferable to trying for a full carry over hazards on a tempting Par 5. Golfers appreciate it. One player, who said he and his group have played all over the country, and internationally, called Old Toccoa Farm the most rewarding golf course he’d ever played.  He must have had a good round!

Dreaming of Golf

Want to stay on or in close proximity to this fantastic course? We have some fantastic cabin selections for you to consider:

Ambleside

Ambleside rests on a hillside in a secure, gated community eight miles from downtown Blue Ridge, between the 7th and 8th holes of the top-rated Old Toccoa Farm golf course, overlooking the fairway and the Toccoa River below. The cabin’s impressive exterior embraces Appalachian architecture, mixing poplar bark, cedar, rusty tin and reclaimed materials, strategically situated to accentuate the long-range views of the Cohutta Wilderness and fabulous, fiery sunsets. Inside, the spacious, professionally decorated home features soaring ceilings, five comfortable bedrooms, a game room, and of course Old Toccoa Farm golf privileges at member discounted rates.

Legend

Staying at Legend is like having an entire five-star resort all to yourself. This luxury log cabin is truly in a class of its own. It’s built from handcrafted Douglas-fir logs and each spacious room presents incredible attention to detail with cathedral ceilings, arched doorways, sumptuous furnishings, stylish fixtures, and every amenity you desire to relax in complete luxury. This cabin features 6 bedrooms, a game room, a media room for private cinema screenings, and Old Toccoa Farm golf membership privileges at discounted rates. A stay at this peaceful and elegant retreat is just the start of what your special time here will mean for family and friends. Stories will be recounted for years to come, and the memories will be legendary.

Chestnut Lodge

At Chestnut Lodge, you will breathe a sigh of nostalgia, gently releasing the present-day stress. The home sits serenely over miles of pastoral fields nestled in between the rolling mountains. Chestnut Lodge is a 5-bedroom 3.5 bath and is a place of true relaxation and one that fulfills the longing of old comforts with a renewed feeling of today. The open floor plan is perfect for gatherings, but Chestnut Lodge has lovingly appointed corners with furnishings that invite you to your own personal time. A home theater, game room, and hot tub ensure your entire group a wide variety of entertainment. This splendid home is conveniently located in the Morganton area of Blue Ridge and is close to Lake Blue Ridge and Old Toccoa Farm Golf Course.

Fall is Prime Time to go to Blue Ridge



Guest Blog by Blake Guthrie as written for the AJC (Atlanta Journal & Constitution).

The Cabin

Photo Courtesy of Blake Guthrie

Cloud Nine. It’s the type of name one would expect for a mountain vacation rental home. It’s one of those places that if you try and follow GPS directions you’ll get lost. The rental agency sent a confirmation that stressed the importance of following the turn-by-turn directions provided in the email, including detail you wouldn’t get from a GPS such as “go right when you see a bunch of mailboxes.”

The Approach

Photo Courtesy of Blake Guthrie

What it didn’t mention was the very steep and winding one-lane road. After putting my Honda into its lowest gear for the first time ever and having to navigate past an approaching vehicle, I came to the crest of Sunrock Mountain four miles west of Blue Ridge. I saw that Cloud Nine was the type of place I might want to hole-up for a while, but, having never been to Blue Ridge or nearby Ellijay before, I came to do some exploring, to find the most beautiful scenery and the best outdoor spots to experience the autumnal ambiance.

The Train

Photo courtesy of @chusion

It turned out the back porch of the cabin was one of those places. In the morning I could see how the cabin got its name. It was literally in the clouds, the surrounding mountain peaks sticking up through a thick white blanket covering the valleys below. Still, I had to venture out. First on my itinerary was the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. The major attraction in town, the railway has been in operation as a sightseeing excursion train since 1998 along tracks that have a history going back as far as 1886. The tracks follow the route of the winding Toccoa River through the Chattahoochee National Forest to the twin towns of McCaysville and Copperhill, Tennessee. They’re essentially the same town with the state line running through the middle. Like a running joke, the line is demarcated by a blue stripe painted on sidewalks, roadways and running through the middle of businesses.

The train rolls at a leisurely pace and the open-air windows are large, making it a prime fall sightseeing adventure with a good dose of history thrown in. Along the way, you’ll see a Native American fish trap in the middle of the river that experts believe is 500 years old, and the old telegraph poles that used to be the fastest form of communication in a bygone era. The trip takes four hours, with two spent in McCaysville/Copperhill for exploring the towns.

McCaysville

If hunger strikes, Burra Burra on the River in McCaysville is near the train station and serves pub fare and local brews. Be sure to ask for outside seating, weather permitting. The real selling point here is the covered deck that overlooks the clear waters of the Toccoa River flowing past the state line where it becomes the Ocoee River after crossing into Tennessee.

Piano Bar

Photo Courtesy of The Black Sheep

Back in Blue Ridge, the largest patio bar in town can be found at Black Sheep Restaurant, where the seasonal menu leans heavily on seafood. Housed in a historic home shaded by a 200-year-old oak tree, the patio overlooks the center of town. It’s a popular place, so make reservations for dinner. Or just have a drink at the bar.

Breweries

The craft beer scene is surprisingly good in Blue Ridge for such a small town that was dry not too long ago. Two breweries — Fannin Brewing Company and Grumpy Old Men Brewing — both have large, inviting outdoor beer gardens where you can play cornhole, meet the locals and catch some live music. Wine drinkers have no shortage of options either, as wineries have been opening at a fast clip in this area over the last few years.

Photo Courtesy of Bear Claw Vineyards

Near Ellijay, Chateau Meichtry (pronounced “my-tree”) stands out not only for its wine but also its patio outside the barn tasting room where the rolling vineyards reveal a long-range view of the mountains to the north.At Bear Claw Vineyards visitors can spend the night in the Blue Ridge Treehouse, featured on the DIY Network show “The Treehouse Guys.” The treehouse overlooks the vineyards and contains all the amenities one would expect when staying in a hotel.

Apple Country

Photo Courtesy of Mercier Orchards

No trip to the North Georgia mountains during the fall harvest season would be complete without taking advantage of apple country. The pull of a roadside farm store backed by endless acres of fruit orchards is undeniable. Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge and R&A Orchards outside Ellijay both have roadside markets selling freshly picked apples and other fruits, fresh-baked goods, local foodstuffs and offer pick-your-own days as well as plenty of free samples.

Welcome to the Mountains!

Photo Courtesy of Blake Guthrie

Lake Blue Ridge is the centerpiece of a scenic drive worth exploring. Stop at the Blue Ridge Welcome Center to pick up a detailed map. Ringed by mountains, the lake has clear, emerald-hued water and a pristine, forested shoreline. The route also runs alongside the tumbling rapids of the Toccoa River, rolling farmland, historic houses, and has many side hikes to cascading waterfalls and other pastoral pleasures. Bring comfortable hiking shoes and make an afternoon of it if you plan to visit all the stops listed on the map. On my last morning at Cloud Nine, I got up early enough to see the sunrise over the Blue Ridge Mountains and stayed on the porch until checkout. Sometimes where you are is the best place to be.

If You Go

Blue Ridge is 92 miles north of Atlanta.

What to see

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. $35 and up. 241 Depot St., Blue Ridge. 877-413-8724, brscenic.com

R&A Orchards. 5505 Hwy. 52 East, Ellijay. 706-273-3821, www.randaorchards.com

Where to stay

Escape to Blue Ridge. Cabins $140-$1,800 per night. 866-618-2521, www.escapetoblueridge.com.

Blue Ridge Treehouse. $234 and up. 2555 Tennis Court Road, Blue Ridge. 706-223-3750, blueridgetreehouse.com.

Where to Eat

Burra Burra on the River. $11 and up. 100 Blue Ridge Drive, McCaysville. 706-400-6660, www.burraburraontheriver.com.

Black Sheep Restaurant. $20 and up. 480 W. Main St., Blue Ridge 706-946-3663, www.blacksheepblueridge.com.

Visitor Info

Blue Ridge Welcome Center. 152 Orvin Lance Drive. 800-899-6867, www.blueridgemountains.com.

Ellijay Welcome Center. 10 Broad St. 706-635-7400, www.gilmerchamber.com.

A Four Season Scenic Ride



In the North Georgia Mountains, we celebrate four gentle yet very distinct seasonal transitions, each measured very close to the designated tri-month celestial calendar. Mother Nature’s landscape specialist (shall we call her Flora?) takes a particular interest in altering our mountainscape on a quarterly basis, cloaking it in very different hues, depths of foliage, and fragrances.

To get a full appreciation of Flora’s artistry in any one of the seasonal changeovers, we encourage you to drive the 41 miles of Georgia’s only national scenic drive, The Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway. The Byway, one of only 120  highways across our fifty states so designated, circles around the Chattahoochee National Forest and can be launched just seventeen miles southeast of Fannin County, at the intersection of Hwys 129 and 180, located in neighboring Union County.

Highest Peak In GA

Following Hwy 180 northeast, you’ll travel twelve miles to the entrance to Brasstown Bald, the highest mountain elevation (4,784’) in Georgia. When you get to the top of the Bald’s observation tower, you will have a spectacular 360-degree view of three states!

Photo Courtesy of Steve Grundy Photography

Anna Ruby Falls

Back on Hwy 180 and after heading southeast for ten miles, you will turn south onto Hwy 75/17. Over the next 10 miles, you will motor through some of the heaviest of forestry, including designated recreation areas Unicoi Gap and Andrews Cove. These are ideal places to hike, fish, picnic or just relax before heading out on the next part of your adventure. Driving for just a few minutes you will arrive at one of the region’s finest natural gems, Anna Ruby Falls. This double waterfall is formed from the merging of two creeks, both sourced from underground springs.

Anna Ruby Falls Photo Courtesy of Bill Mantooth

Just three more miles south you will find yourself at Unicoi State Park, where you can jet off on a bicycle, paddleboard on Unicoi Lake or eat at the Unicoi Restaurant located in the beautifully appointed Unicoi Lodge.

Alpine Helen

If you haven’t visited Bavaria’s USA sister city, quaint Helen GA, here’s the best opportunity, located just 3 more miles south of Unicoi State Park. But if Helen isn’t part of your plans for this scenic trip, then backtrack up 75/17 for only two miles where you’ll arrive at the entrance of one of the State’s most beautiful wooded parks, Smithgall Woods/Dukes Creek Falls State Park.  Covering over 5,600 acres, this Park focuses on conservation. It’s also an angler’s paradise with some of the very best trout fishing in the State on the waters of Dukes Creek. Visit their event calendar to see what is scheduled during your visit.

Photo Courtesy of Alpine Helen – White County Convention & Visitors Bureau

Hogpen Gap

There’s one more leg to this journey, and it is perhaps the most spectacular. Just a hair north of Smithgall Woods you will come upon the gateway (Hwy 348) to Richard Russell Scenic Hwy.  These next 23 miles are not only a favorite for motorists, bicyclists and motorcyclists, but wildlife also love to roam all over the cliffs and valleys along this route. Do drive with patience and caution.

Hogpen Gap Photo Courtesy of Scott Michael Anna

Helton Creek Falls

After nearly a 10 mile ascent, you’ll reach Hogpen Gap, (elevation 3,525′). This is a very popular, year-round hiking trail. But for just leaf lookers, the vistas at the appointed observation areas at this elevation are breathtaking! And in the spring there is no better place to view the “greening of the mountains”. As you begin the steep descent traveling north on Richard Russell, the valley brings more surprises as the fields open up and the farmlands, an integral facet of life in historical Choestoe Valley, are dotted across the highway. Look for a turn heading west at Hatchett Creek Rd. Follow this road till it merges with Helton Creek Road and visit one of the area’s favorite family waterfalls, Helton Creek Falls. The short hike (.24 miles) from the parking area leads to two falls. The lower falls has a wading pool area. The upper falls has an observation deck with bench seating.

Helton Creek Falls Photo Courtesy of Molly Carreras

Seasons of Fun!

Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway is a 4 season wonderland. In the spring the hiking trails boast 1500 varieties of wildflowers with over 200 plants indigenous to just this Southern Appalachian region. 

Stop, look and listen and you’ll see fawn and bear cubs emerging from the woods, beavers building dams to reroute the heavy spring rainwater, and you’ll hear the songbirds who’ve migrated back to these mountains from their winter retreats.

Open the windows on your summer drive and capture the fragrances of the season as you pass cavernous areas of native azalea, rhododendron and mountain laurel. The farmers cut hay around Memorial Day and again at Labor Day. The smell of fresh-cut hay, watching the baling process or just coming upon a field of hay bales peppering the countryside all leave an indelible imprint on one’s senses.

Photo Courtesy of Mountain Mem’ries Photography

Summer visits to the waterfalls along this road will often find the thunderous waters framed by a rainbow. And as the days become shorter and autumn ushers in, the forest canopy bursts with vibrant colors as the sweetgum, red maples, and oak trees display their final fashion before shedding their foliage. In winter the starkness of the bare forest, covered in frost is an incredible photo opportunity. The cliffs near Hogpen Gap are covered with ice and a favorite spot for ice climbers to hone their skills.

Plan on this driving adventure the next time you visit us. It promises to impress you, whatever the season. Share your adventures with us by tagging #escapetobr on your social posts. Enjoy!

A Season of Fun



September is a time of transition, when summer is coming to an end, but the crisp nights promise something even better! Life at the lake goes on, the rivers are flowing with enough intensity to host a kayak championship, apples are ripe and ready for picking, and weekend festivals feature
live music, BBQ and brews! Check out the events below and come stay with us this month.

UPCOMING EVENTS & ACTIVITIES

Everybody Loves Opal
August 29 – September 1
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Community Theater

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Community Theater

Every small town has an Opal. She’s a middle-age recluse who lives in an old, falling down mansion on the edge of town. She’s quirky, to say the least and she collects things, hauling them through town to her house in a little red wagon. She’s harmless, she’s also a target, but she’s oblivious and those trying to do her harm end up getting theirs in the end. Familiar story and funny. Check it out!

3rd Annual Labor Day River Run
August 31
LOCATION: Horseshoe Bend Park

Photo Courtesy of the Boys & Girls Club of North Georgia

A fun and beautiful run for all ages, sponsored by the Boys and Girls Club of North Georgia. Awards presented for the top three runners in 5-year incremental age groups, as well as overall firsts for male and female. Welcome the first fall weekend with an exercise activity and some spirited encouragement!

Mountain Heritage Festival
August 31 – September 1
LOCATION: Mountain Life Museum, Blairsville

Photo Courtesy of Visit Downtown Blairsville

It’s a tradition each Labor Day Weekend in Blairsville to celebrate local history and heritage at the place where it all began. Focused on the restored 1861 Payne family log cabin, the Mauney family barn, the Duncan family cabin and other structures from the area’s past, music and craft activities will be very much in evidence, providing entertainment as well as education!

The Art of Dylan Pierce
August 31 – September 28
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association

Photo Courtesy of Dylan Pierce

Beautiful watercolors capturing the soul of his subjects and the heart and beauty of animals, Dylan Pierce has been painting, presenting and touring since he was 12 and hasn’t lost a step.

Low Country Boil at The Cooks Farm
September 1
LOCATION: Cooks Farm in Morganton

Photo Courtesy of Better Than Bouillon

Mountains and sea meet with some Lowcountry cooking, local brews from Grumpy Old Men Brewery and a bit of New Orleans thrown in for good measure. This is a a little bit country Cajun and a little bit charming Charleston. Diversity for sure. The culinary team from Cucina Rustica monitors the fusion to make sure there’s no- con-fusion!

Apple U-Pick
September 1 – 30
LOCATION: Mercier Orchards and Area Orchards in Blue Ridge & Ellijay

Photo Courtesy of Mercier Orchards

It’s apple-pickin’ time! Which means it’s also time for tractor rides through the orchards, corn mazes, and definitely time to enjoy breathtaking mountain views from the top of an apple pickin’ ladder (why is it, by the way, that the best apples always seem to be at the top of the tree?!). Mercier Orchards is in its 76th year of operation, and Labor Day Weekend has always been the time to kick off the season. It’s also time to drive slowly through the lovely stretch of highway near Ellijay, watching for just the right orchard to catch your attention. Look for apple signs all over!

39th Annual Labor Day BBQ & Gospel Music Show
September 1 – 2
LOCATION: Downtown Blue Ridge City Park

Photo Courtesy of the Good Samaritans of Fannin County

Yes, barbecue and gospel music do go together! In fact, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of voices harmonizing, with a bit of sauce on the side. In addition to music and “cue”, there’s also an ice cream social and a chance to discover local churches in the area.

Cartecay Vineyards
September 1 – 29
LOCATION: Cartecay Vineyards

Photo Courtesy of Cartecay Vineyards

A beautiful vineyard and winery set in pastoral farmlands in the heart of the Southern Appalachians. Cartacay’s wine history dates to 2007, but it’s heritage is comprised of Cherokee roots (in fact, Cartecay translates to “bread valley”). The winery features plenty of locally sourced wines, tastings and special events, plus live music on most weekends.

Live Music at Cartecay Vineyards:
September 1 – Downtown Roy
September 7 – Gopher Broke Band
September 8 – Tommy Joe Connor
September 14 – Gregg Erwin
September 15 – Surrender Hill
September 21 – Timothy O’Donovan
September 22 – Ricky Byers
September 28 – Man Bites Dog
September 29 – Cagle & Pitts Duo Review

Plein Air International Paint Out
September 5 – 8
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association

Be on the lookout for artists painting everything everywhere in Fannin County during this four-day international event. You may see artists in parks, in farm fields, even alongside the road – wherever the spirit has moved them to sit, or stand, and capture the beauty and uniqueness of this region on canvas. This is a judged show with various events surrounding it, including opportunities to meet the artists and purchase their work. Art will be on exhibit at the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association from September 10 through October 13.

Grumpy Old Men Brewery
September 6 – 27
LOCATION: Grumpy Old Men Brewery

Photo Courtesy of 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!

Live Music at Grumpy’s:
September 6 – Doctor Paul
September 13 – Travis Bowlin
September 27 – Gregg Erwin

Namaste and Cabernet
September 7
LOCATION: Bear Claw Vineyards

Photo Courtesy of Yoga Over Blue Ridge

The perfect combination – yoga, followed by wine tasting at a vineyard with a view. Ashlee Lofton leads the yoga class, beginning at 10:45am and then there’s a moment of reflection before moving on to Bear Claw’s Grizzly Tasting. OMMM & AHHH. Nothing better!

Diane Durrett
September 7
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Community Theater

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Ridge Community Theater

Diane Durret, who has performed with Sting, Gregg Allman, the Indigo Girls, Chuck Leavell and countless others will perform at the Blue Ridge Community Theater with her blend of raw soulful vocals, sultry tones and strong original songs!

Ocoee River Championships
September 13 – 15
LOCATION: Ocoee Whitewater Center

Photo Courtesy of Ocoee River Championships

World class whitewater and a bunch of folks who know how to navigate it, it’ll be like watching the Olympics in your own backyard, because these are truly Olympic-level competitors! This three-day event on the Upper Ocoee will feature raft, canoe and kayak competitions in formats ranging from slalom racing to freestyle, set against a spectacular backdrop! During down times you can enjoy the live music and regional vendor booths.

Herbalist Medicine Making
September 14
LOCATION: The Folk Apothic

Photo Courtesy of The Folk Apothic

They used to say “let food be your medicine”…and how many times are diets based on a simple change of what you eat? In this class you will learn how to make and set up an herbal first aide kit, discover poultices, and try out some compresses. Each participant will be given a packet describing how to create your own herbal preparations along with a lot of lecture time and hands on, a small herbal profile, and all materials will be furnished for you to make your own concoctions.

A Facility For Living
September 19 – October 6
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Community Theater

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Ridge Community Theater

For these bored seniors living at the “Home”, life is a monotonous cycle of pills, old movies and 7pm bedtimes, all while overseen by the killjoy nurse. But when a new arrival shakes things up, this geriatric group of grandparents hatch a scheme to break all the rules and rediscover their purpose and dignity.

Blue Ridge Blues and BBQ Music Festival
September 21
LOCATION: Downtown Blue Ridge City Park

Photo Courtesy of the Blues & BBQ Festival

There’s nothing like some cool blues riffs. And, there’s nothing like some tasty, mouth-watering barbecue. Hmmm – put those two together on the same day and you have a sure-fire winner of a fall festival! Which is what the Blues and BBQ Music Festival is, just a beautiful way to spend a day with friends, family, good sounds, and good smells!

Boat Dock Bar and Grill
September 27
LOCATION: Lake Blue Ridge Marina

Photo Courtesy of the Boat Dock Bar & Grill

The Boat Dock Bar and Grill at the Lake Blue Ridge Marina has one of the best views of Lake Blue Ridge around. The restaurant features a full kitchen, outdoor seating, a beachy atmosphere, and it’s dog-friendly (if your dog is dog friendly).

Live Music at the Boat Dock:
September 27 – Gerry Herndon

Music at The Blue Coyote
September 27
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!

Mudcat
September 28
LOCATION: Mystic Mountain Pizza

Photo Courtesy of Kelly Thompson

Danny ‘Mudcat’ Dudeck is an internationally known gospel and bluesman continuing the traditions of the early blues pioneers while adding his own Mudcat edge, resulting in one of Atlanta’s greatest treasures. Don’t miss this show. At Mystic Mountain Pizza you’ll enjoy good food, cold beer, and an inviting atmosphere!

Live Music at the Blue Coyote:
September 27 – Bone Daddy

Dancing Goats FolkFest
September 28 – 29
LOCATION: Downtown Ellijay

Photo Courtesy of the Dancing Goats

First of all, there are no guarantees that these goats really will dance, but you can probably count on them to eat, and provide pretty good backdrops for a great folk festival. Mostly, it’s a pretty snappy name that catches your attention. Once captivated by the possibility of goat dancing, you can settle into a celebration of regional culture and local traditions, including talented artisans plying their crafts, storytelling, and showcases of true folk art. Well worth the trip.

Ride the Rails Festival
September 28-29
LOCATION: Mineral Bluff Depot

Photo Courtesy of Kathy Thompson

You’ve seen ‘em, you just don’t know you’ve seen ‘em. They’re sometimes called Railroad Hand Cars, and sometimes you have to pump them to get around, an exercise best accomplished with two. Operating one of these is just a part of a weekend’s worth of tribute to the world of railroads – hosted, of course, in a train depot, where you can also enjoy a large “HO Scale” model railroad based on the L & N Railroad’s Old Line from Atlanta to Etowah, Tennessee.

NEW HOMES ADDED TO OUR PROGRAM

My Mountain Retreat

What matters most to you in a mountain vacation? Whether it’s a wide range of great activities nearby, a magnificent setting that brings you closer to nature, or the chance to relax, unwind and leave everything in your ‘real life’ behind, you’ll find it all at My Mountain Retreat. Perched on a hillside in a forest clearing overlooking a verdant canopy, with spectacular long-range mountain views, this spacious tri-level showplace is the ideal getaway retreat.

UPGRADED PROPERTIES

Summit Escape

Escape to a mountaintop in Blue Ridge to a home with some of North Georgia’s best views that extend out to two more states. Summit Escape is in the wonderful community of Sun Rock Mountain, and is easily accessible off of paved roads. This property is adjacent to 100 acres of pristine, undisturbed wilderness, yet is convenient to downtown Blue Ridge and McCaysville. There is no better place than this cabin’s expansive wraparound deck or beautiful screened in porch to watch the area’s abounding wildlife from wild turkeys, to deer and hummingbirds.

There are new owners as of 2019, and with the new owners, there are numerous updates! All new kitchen stainless steel appliances, new granite countertops and refinished hardwood floors. The main and downstairs bedrooms have new premium queen pillow top mattresses/boxsprings and there’s new bedding on all levels. Even the basement has a brand new look, with an all new ceiling!

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

8 CABINS WITH INCREDIBLE LAKE & MOUNTAIN VIEWS

Heavens Whisper

When you plan an escape to Blue Ridge there is nothing better than spending time with friends and family while taking in the sights and sounds of natures’ majestic beauty. When you add in stunning mountain and lake views to your cabin selection, you’ve just taken your vacation to a whole new level! These eight amazing cabins with picture perfect postcard views are all located in the desirable Aska Adventure Area. KEEP READING.

9 Cabins with Incredible Game Rooms



Ha! I knew I was going to win!

What? Best two out of three determines the winner?

Alright then! Bring it!

This is my game right here. May the best man (or woman) win!

Oh yes, there is nothing more fun than a little trash talking before you take on your spouse, kid, or best friend in a friendly game of pool, foosball, air hockey, darts, video games or even old-fashioned board games. Bored teenagers are usually super thrilled to have new ways to beat their siblings and on rainy days you will be so thankful you considered the cabin’s gaming options when you booked your Escape to Blue Ridge. We in fact have 175 cabins with game rooms, but let’s take a look at the 9 most Incredible Game Rooms:

A Heaven on Earth

A Heaven on Earth is indeed in a heavenly spot atop a scenic ridge with two private, wooded acres to roam. This real log home offers a unique floor plan with two master suites featuring custom crafted log beds on the main level and adjoining bathrooms. Each also features direct access to the large deck overlooking the North Georgia Mountains. Game rooms have become ever so important in selecting the perfect cabin for your vacation. This one is no exception with dynamic offerings such as a beautiful pecan wood billiards table, foosball, and steps away from a warm and cozy lounging area in front of the stone fireplace. This is an ideal cabin offering the fulfillment of anyone’s aspirations for a great mountain getaway. Bring your better half, several friends or your whole family and everyone is sure to find “A Heaven on Earth!”

Aska Adventure Lodge

Aska is the Cherokee Native American word for “winter retreat,” however, this cabin is perfect in every season. The home’s professionally decorated and richly appointed great room features expansive glass windows that are strategically positioned to overlook the breathtaking and panoramic Aska Adventure area mountains. The Game Room features regulation size billiards, an air hockey table, a dart board and an Xbox gaming system. Aska Adventure Lodge is the perfect place and setting to clear the mind and steal away on vacation with your friends or family. Here, overlooking the mountains and upward to the sky-blue heavens, take in the crisp, clean air that rejuvenates the spirit!

Bearfoot Bungalow

Bearfoot Bungalow complete with magnificent vistas and cozy rustic charm is a mountain oasis where you can relax and recharge. Inside the cabin settle into a comfy couch or recliner and kick off your shoes in front of a fire while you watch TV in the family room, or play ping-pong, pool, air hockey, and board games in the game room, which is equipped with DVD and Wii. There are four flat screen TVs in the cabin, each with Dish service and Netflix ability and wireless Internet throughout. When it’s time to turn in for the night, you’ll choose from three comfortable, inviting bedrooms. Whether you’re planning a family vacation, a romantic getaway, or a weekend with the guys or the girls, there’s something for everyone at Bearfoot Bungalow!

Celtic Weaver Lodge

Celtic Weaver Lodge is one of the most delightful North Georgia Mountain cabin rentals imaginable. Elegantly rustic with tongue and groove wood throughout, Celtic Weaver Lodge was professionally decorated and it shows. Bursting with character, this charming cabin will intrigue you at every turn with eye-catching furnishings and accents abundant in this split log home. The kids will naturally gravitate to the game room downstairs, drawn there to play billiards, ping pong, Xbox, board games, even NASCAR mini air hockey. The DVD player and iCraig will also keep them entertained for hours — they can play movies or music to their hearts’ content while lounging by the stone gas fireplace. This warm and cheerful cabin is positively peace on Earth for all in its midst. Location, relaxation and a sense of magic — Celtic Weaver Lodge weaves all the best things vacations are made of into one perfect place!

Hilltop Hideaway

Located on a mountain with wraparound decks to showcase the view from every angle, Hilltop Hideaway is the epitome of rustic elegance, with plenty of country charm and a relaxed, welcoming ambience. The downstairs game room is a gamer’s paradise, with air hockey, billiards, foosball, a classic arcade machine with 60+ games including Donkey Kong, a wood-slab bar, plenty of comfy seating, and a 65” flat screen TV. There’s also a fireplace, hot tub, and a ping-pong table on the adjacent patio. The two screened-in porches each have a wood-burning fireplace. There’s a hot tub on the lower level porch, outfitted with Bluetooth speakers, and the upper patio has a large swing, six rockers, and a gas grill with a picnic table on the upper level near the kitchen. If you have dogs, you don’t have to leave them behind. You’re welcome to bring up to two with you (as long as you pick up after them) while you and your loved ones create vacation memories at this very special mountain paradise.

Lake Vista Lodge

Lake Vista Lodge is a relaxing getaway where you can escape from the everyday world, enjoy the company of your family and friends, and marvel at the peaceful, 50-mile views of Lake Blue Ridge and mountains as far as the eye can see. If you’re seeking a bit of rest and relaxation, there is nothing better than simply swinging or rocking on the porch and soaking up the beautiful vista of Lake Blue Ridge, the mountains surrounding it, and on clear days, the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina beyond. On rainy days, kids will have fun playing Xbox 360 Kinect with games foosball, shuffle board, or choosing amongst plenty of books and board games. Grownups can play billiards or indulge in a dip in the hot tub from the comfort of the covered porch. Lake Vista Lodge was built as a welcoming place for families and friends to come together to enjoy simple pleasures and each other’s company. Create your own traditions and special memories here that you’ll share for many years to come.

Legend

Staying at Legend is like having an entire five-star resort all to yourself. This luxury log cabin is truly in a class of its own. It’s built from handcrafted Douglas-fir logs and each spacious room presents incredible attention to detail with cathedral ceilings, arched doorways, sumptuous furnishings, stylish fixtures, and every amenity you desire to relax in complete luxury. Any time of year, Legend’s spacious, covered decks with their sweeping views make entertaining easy as a mountain breeze. Nature will entertain you and your guests for hours, with views of the rushing creek, horses playing in the nearby pastures, and the verdant tree farm nearby. Inclement weather can’t dampen your spirits here. Spend an afternoon in the game room downstairs playing pinball, billiards, foosball, ping pong or board games— there’s a little something for everyone. Legend even has its own cinema screening room downstairs, complete with stadium seating — it doesn’t get any closer to an authentic movie theater experience than this! Make some popcorn, grab drinks at the nearby kitchen and bar, then everyone can sink into sumptuous loungers and enjoy a great movie up on the big screen. A stay at this peaceful and elegant retreat is just the start of what your special time here will mean for family and friends. Stories will be recounted for years to come, and the memories will be legendary!

Moonlight Lodge

Moonlight Lodge is a spacious four-bedroom cabin with gorgeous mountain views. The house features two master bedrooms, ideal for a multi-family getaway. The two bedrooms on the lower level open to a game room and media center perfect for family fun. Sharpen your pool skills or play foosball or Xbox 360. Watch a movie or cheer on your favorite team on the big screen TV. There’s plenty indoors to keep kids of all ages entertained. This secluded refuge is perfect for families looking for a comfortable, relaxing home away from home!

Our Blue Heaven

Named for the old song of the same name, Our Blue Heaven is ideally located on a magnificent wooded property just five miles from downtown Blue Ridge. Inside, it’s built for comfort, with inviting, spacious rooms, all of them cozy and handsomely appointed with high-end furnishings in rustic mountain style. It’s also built for outdoor living, with over 1100 square feet of covered, screened-in deck space on three levels. Inside, you can gather in the living room, with its soaring vaulted ceiling, impressive stone gas fireplace, and 55” TV, or head to the game room to play pool or watch the game on the 65” screen. The cabin’s three inviting bedrooms, one per level, each have their own full bath and deck or balcony access. And if your dog is well trained, feel free to bring him along. Whether you’re taking a family vacation or planning a getaway with your best friends, you’ll have unforgettable memories of your stay at Our Blue Heaven!