Dog Friendly Hikes



Hiking with your dog can be fun for both you and your furry friend. Not only does it provide a great source of exercise for you and your dog, but it’s also one of the best ways to have amazing adventures while creating memories that will last a lifetime. It’s a win-win for everyone!

While we’d all love to be able to take our dogs with us on every trail we venture down, we can’t always do that. Sometimes the trails are too steep or the terrain is too rough for our four-legged friends to maneuver, or sometimes they simply aren’t allowed in that area because of other critters that may be dangerous for our dogs to encounter.

To make things a little easier for you and your furry companion, here’s a list of a few trails around the Blue Ridge area that are sure to bring tons of fun for both and your favorite adventure buddy!

Duncan Ridge Trail

Easily accessible by both the Appalachian Trail and the Benton MacKaye Trail, the Duncan Ridge Trail is one of the more difficult trails in the Northeast Georgia Mountains, spanning a total of around 30.1 miles. While the trail is  labeled as moderate to strenuous by most experienced hikers and backpackers out there (mainly because of the low usage and steep climbs), don’t let that discourage you from taking on this gorgeous trek back into the Chattahoochee National Forest! You don’t have to hike the whole 30.1 miles and for those with pups that aren’t too keen on making friends with other hikers/dogs, this trail will let you have the outdoor experience you always wanted without the anxiety of other dogs and hikers.

Lupa on the Duncan Ridge Trail

The Duncan Ridge Trail begins at Three Forks on the Appalachian Trail/Benton MacKaye Trail. Beginning at Three Forks, you’ll hop on the AT and walk the beautiful mile stretch out toward Long Creek Falls, following the soft sounds of the creek that runs alongside the trail. Hiking toward the falls, the Benton MacKaye Trail (BMT) and the Duncan Ridge Trail veer off to the right less than 0.1 miles after the short path down to the falls begins. There will be markers present that identifies which trail is the BMT and which is the Duncan Ridge Trail but just in case, follow the blue vertical blazes (marks on the trees) for the Duncan Ridge and the white diamond blazes for the BMT.

From there, hikers will follow the trail through a tunnel of laurels and rhododendrons during the spring and summer months deep into the Chattahoochee National Forest before reaching the swinging bridge over the Toccoa River. Hikers can choose to push on and make the climb up Tooni Mountain, or call it a day a hike back toward Three Forks. Regardless of what you decide, just remember to have fun and hike your own hike!

Appalachian Approach Trail

Roughly 75 percent of Appalachian Trail hikers, thru-hikers and sectioners alike, decide to take the Appalachian Approach Trail to begin the trail while the other 25 percent simply take off at the base of Springer Mountain as they start the 2,192 mile (or less) journey. But for those who want to join the majority, the 8-mile trail starts off from Amicalola Falls State Park, beginning the 78-mile Georgia portion of this famous hiking trail to Maine. Not planning on walking to Maine? Then just hop on the Appalachian Approach Trail with your favorite furry pal and enjoy one of the best day hikes in the North Georgia Mountains.


Princess Lupa on the AT Approach

Just above the top of Amicalola Falls (you can hike up the falls or just enjoy the view from the parking lot at the top), the trailhead begins. For the first ⅓ mile, the trail will coincide with the Len Foote Hike Inn. When the trail forks, follow the blue blazes, veer left, and head toward Springer Mountain.

Soon enough the trail will leave Amicalola State Park, climbing its way through the Chattahoochee National Forest and onward toward the Appalachian Trail. Though not strenuous, this trail is rated at moderate, so this might prove a challenge for some at certain parts of the trail. Elevation gain is steady over the eight miles, climbing gradually through the thick Chattahoochee Forest. During the spring and summer months, the trail beams with lush greenery and vibrant native wildflowers. In the fall, the trail is a technicolor of bright orange, yellow, and red. Regardless of the time of year, the trail promises spectacular scenery.

While much of the eight-mile stretch is shaded and covered with thicket, the last 1.5 miles will provide close to 500-ft elevation gain and thinning treeline as you make the final climb up Springer. And once you get to the summit, the blue blazes will fade to white, marking the Southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail and a gorgeous view of the rolling mountains and valleys of the Blue Ridge.

Stanley Gap Trail

If you’re looking for the typical North Georgia hiking experience for you and your furry friend, look no further than the Stanley Gap Trail. Full of bright red Georgia clay and plenty of white mountain granite and large roots, you’re in for an adventurous afternoon out in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Now, be forewarned, this trail doesn’t offer up any waterfalls or stunning summit views, but it’s great for those who just want to get out and enjoy the beauty of the North Georgia Mountains. Plus, you’ll have plenty of protection from the sun on hot, humid days.

Lupa ready to take on Stanley Gap Trail

Coming in at just under 5 miles — around 4.8 mi — the Stanley Gap Trail is rated at moderated, but those used to hiking easier trails shouldn’t find this one too difficult either. It’s fairly forgiving, with breaks in the upward climb every 50- 100 ft  along the way. The main thing hikers should watch out for are large upturned roots and rocks that can be a bit tricky to manage if you’re not careful. But as long as you are being mindful of them, the hike shouldn’t pose any problems whatsoever.

The highest point on the trail comes around Rocky Mountain, just below the summit, near the trail’s halfway point.  After reaching that point, you’ll have to scamper up one last incline before winding back down for 1,000 ft descent toward Deep Gap. If you’re not wanting to hike all the way back to the trailhead, you can always make arrangements ahead of time for someone to pick you up at the Deep Gap parking lot or even catch a ride with a trail system shuttle driver back to you (and your dog!) back to your car.

Where are your favorite places to hike with your favorite 4-legged family member? Be sure to share your pictures of your journeys with us on Facebook or Instagram. We’d love to see where your Escape to Blue Ridge takes you!

Blue Ridge – Fly Fishing Capital of Georgia



It has been said that if you are fishing to catch fish, you are fishing for the wrong reason. Now, don’t get me wrong, catching fish is a whole lot of fun and definitely the reward for all the effort you put forth, but what I’m talking about is the spiritual part of fishing. There is just something about being in the middle of the river, just you and your rod. The motion and the movement of your rod and line is like an artist painting a masterpiece. The subtlety of the line whipping back and forth until the fly ever so gently rests on the water just waiting for a trout to come take a taste. The quietness and the solitude of the rippling waters make you feel like you are one with nature. This is what fishing is all about.

Supple Waters

Blue Ridge, Georgia was designated the Fly Fishing Capital of Georgia because of the nature of our rivers, creeks, and streams. Here you can find large wild rainbow, brown and brook trout. Additionally, the Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery stocks our creeks with thousands of fish between March and July. Right now, in the coldest months of the year, is when you can put both your skill and knowledge to the test and fish for the native trout. They thrive in the most frigid of waters and are experts at hiding in eddie lines and behind rocks. If you are interested in fishing these plentiful waters, there are a multitude of outfitters in and around town that can provide instruction, equipment, and guiding services.

Meet Will Taylor

While the Toccoa River, Rock Creek, and Cooper’s Creek are popular fishing destinations, Will Taylor and his expert guides will take you to private locations where you can catch trout that you’ll want to write home about. At the very least, all of your friends will be jealous when they see the beauties you pull in and then of course release. Taylor and his family are longtime residents of Blue Ridge, Georgia. He has created a name for himself along with his wife, Lesa, with their native trout photography. Their shop, Fly Shop Co, specializes in locally tied flies, apparel, gear, and a large selection of made in the USA items. Conservation of our waters and the inhabitants of our creeks and streams are very important to the Taylors and they are taking steps to ensure that measures ahre set in place to not only protect the trout, but also the riverbanks themselves. Book a trip with Will and you will see for yourself. His passion and excitement for fly fishing is contagious and the fish you will catch will create special memories to last a lifetime.  

Trout Festival

On Saturday, April 27th the Blue Ridge Mountain Trout Unlimited #696 and the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce will host the 4th Annual  Blue Ridge Trout Festival & Outdoor Adventures event. Located in downtown Blue Ridge, you will have the opportunity to meet with local adventure outfitters and fishing guides. There will also be conservation information, clothing and fishing gear, home décor and gifts, along with fly making demonstrations. You don’t have to worry about being hungry or thirsty while at the festival. A food truck alley and beer garden will be available for you to enjoy if you don’t want to check out one of our wonderful downtown Blue Ridge restaurants. Admission is $5 per person and leashed dogs are welcome to join you as you learn more about the Blue Ridge fly fishing culture.

Hooked On Toccoa

Hooked on Toccoa is uniquely located with step-in entry directly into the river, giving you private access to world-class fly fishing and is also the perfect spot for tubing, kayaking or just splashing around in the refreshingly clear tailwaters of the Toccoa. With an expansive grassy waterfront, you can take your pick of places to unwind outdoors- on the sprawling screened-in porch, next to the fireplace under the pavilion or suspended right above the river on the large wooden dock. The cabin is located only minutes from the beautifully manicured Old Toccoa Farm golf course and a 10-minute drive directly into historic downtown Blue Ridge, which offers delicious dining and chic shopping options.

Noontootla Cottage

Noontootla Creek in the North Georgia Mountains is world-renowned for trophy trout fishing. Located in the highly desirable Aska Adventure area, Noontootla Cottage is a prize in and of itself. Noontootla Cottage is like stepping into a scene from classic American literature, but updated for this century. Sitting amongst the corn field with its sharp roofline angles, stacked stone chimney and open, front deck, the white farmhouse immediately sparks child-like enthusiasm. It sleeps seven and is perfect for a leisurely, fun-filled family getaway or for a couple of parents treating their kids’ to their first fishing excursion. This is the finest farmhouse in an anglers’ most prized location. Let Noontootla Cottage reward you, not just through great fishing, but through an entire experience that will reconnect you and your loved ones for a most memorable mountain vacation. 

River Run

River Run is aptly named— this stunning home is built right on the banks of the Toccoa River near the famed Shallowford Bridge in Blue Ridge. The views from this unique property are as close to the water as you can get, and the home is tucked into the corner of a lovely wooded lot. Here, life is about both the liveliness and calmness of the abundant river. You can cast your line to fish directly from the home’s huge deck, without moving from your comfortable rocking chair. Or, grab your inner tube to join the happy passersby on floating rides toward river’s end. The home’s level lot offers many vantage points to take in the plentiful views and activity whether from picnic tables, the charming outdoor swing, the huge hot tub or from around an outdoor horseshoe pit.

The ABC’s of Horseback Riding



There is nothing more enjoyable than unplugging form the digital world, saddling up on horseback, and heading out into the countryside. In Blue Ridge, forty percent of the county’s land is located within the Chattahoochee National Forest and has countless miles of trails to explore and enjoy. Fresh mountain air, beautiful scenery, abundant wildlife, and getting in touch with nature is what it’s all about. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced equestrian, one of the area’s local outfitters would love to show you our country side and provide you with a rewarding, memorable, and exhilarating trip.

Appalachian Trail Rides

A love of family and horses led to the creation of S&T Stables and then in 2017 they designed and created Appalachian Trail Rides at S&T Stables. Proudly providing trail rides on 250 acres of privately-owned mountainous farm land, visitors can ride through pastures on scenic trails and gallop around private lakes and cross creeks while seeing wildlife frolic in their natural habitat. The youngest family members can enjoy pony rides and anyone 6 years and older can enjoy trail rides. Luke and Blair of Appalachian Trail rides have created a Proposal Ride for blossoming love or Dinner Rides complete with a delicious meal and songs around the campfire!

Cabin Suggestion

Almost Heaven is a spectacular cabin set high up on a mountain crest. This three-bedroom three bath cabin is snug in the treetops of an enchanting forest that makes for natural framework around layered panoramic mountain views. Whether you wish to lock yourself away for a romantic or sentimental gathering or create a wonderful family vacation filled with adventure — Almost Heaven will have you on Cloud Nine.

Blanche Manor

Year-round horseback riding adventures are available at Blanche Manor in Blue Ridge for all age levels and skill levels. Trail rides will take you through unspoiled scenery and take in views from three states – Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. You can choose from a leisurely stroll through wooded trails or sign up for the City Slicker Special where you can learn how to barrel race or do an obstacle course on horseback! Complete with Sunset rides, pony rides, and full day experiences you will enjoy every minute of your time with Kimberly and her team of experienced guides.

Cabin Suggestion

Taking its name from the hundreds of acres of picturesque horse farms in the surrounding area, Bucking Horse is a distinctive Georgia Mountain cabin rental that offers the peaceful getaway from your everyday life that you are craving. Perfectly situated in the Cashes Valley Area, this four-bedroom, 4-bath cabin invites you to enjoy the sounds and sights of nature from the spacious, multi-level decks and balconies. Take in the majestic mountain views as you rock your cares away on the back deck or sink into the steamy and rejuvenating waters of the hot tub. Let the scenic woods and calming mountain views from Bucking Horse envelop you as you create a truly memorable mountain experience that will last a lifetime- and having you longing to return!

Cohutta Stables

Spend a half day or a full day riding trails through the Cohutta Wildlife Management area. This family owned and operated horse farm is widely known for training, boarding, sales, riding lessons, and outfitted trail riding in the Chattahoochee National Forest. They believe in the importance of finding a horse to suit your needs and skill level. Heather and her team will take guests on a thirteen-mile trip through stunning landscape. The ride takes a break at Jacks River Fields, a primitive campground, for a picnic lunch and a leg stretch, before picking up the trail and returning back to the stables.

Cabin suggestion

If you love the peace from quiet mountain vistas and beautiful sunsets, then let Cashes Serenity wash over you. Located in the desirable Cashes Valley area of Blue Ridge, this three-bedroom, three bath home offers spectacular views of the Cohutta wilderness, a 37,000-acre protected wildlife sanctuary with more than 95 miles of hiking trails. Enjoy the beauty of the meandering streams and grazing horses in Cashes Valley as you wind your way up the mountain to breathtaking views. Horseback riding trails are within walking distance down the mountain and white water rafting on the Ocoee River is nearby. When you visit Cashes Serenity cabin, we hope you will echo the words of John Muir: “Keep close to Nature’s heart and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”

Winter Hiking in Blue Ridge



There are few better places to hike than on the hundreds and hundreds of miles of trails that crisscross the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Georgia. Not only is this an area that speaks to the hiker in familiar terms – Appalachian Trail, Benton MacKaye Trail, Hike Inn, Amicalola Falls – but it’s the wide variety of experiences, from the casual to the challenging, that make these hikes some of the most popular in America. You can come prepared and packed to the hilt or just carry a water bottle and be perfectly pleased with the result.

Every year thousands of hikers start the Appalachian Trail journey – north–to-south, south-to-north, or a split blend of both – and roughly one-quarter of those who start with intentions of a thru-hike manage to complete the 2,000-mile plus trek. Those are usually serious hikers with high aspirations, deep determination, and a lot of time.

Many, many more hikers take a day (or two), or just a morning or an afternoon to enjoy the beauty of nature, 50-mile views, and the peace and solitude of a recreational hike. For those, and the more determined and dedicated both, there’s no better place to start than Blue Ridge, Georgia and Fannin County.

What draws hikers to Blue Ridge in the first place is the variety of terrain and the landscape that surrounds it. This region has been called the “hinge of botany” for its unique ability to sustain the widest variety of plant life on the East Coast – a robust mixture of northern and southern species.

Constant surprises greet those who look for unusual trees, shrubs and ground cover. You may end up in the midst of mountain laurel, rhododendron and hemlock trees all at the same time – an experience not at all common in any other part of the country.

So, where to go to discover all this?  Well, it doesn’t take more than 10-20 miles, and 30 minutes or less to get you to where you want to go.  You can avail yourself of guide services like Blue Ridge Mountain Outfitters, ready willing and able to chime in on suggestions, or to lead the hike itself.

Springer Mountain

Just minutes from downtown Blue Ridge, Springer Mountain is best known as the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. It’s the southern equivalent of Maine’s Katahdin Mountain – where hundreds per year start or finish their AT thru-hike adventures. A thru-hike isn’t a necessity to enjoy the beauty, tranquility and sense of camaraderie on the country’s most famous hiking trail. Sections of the 2,181-mile AT starting at Springer are at times both challenging and peaceful, so it’s best to consult the proper guide to determine a section of trail that suits your level of ability.

 

The Benton MacKaye Trail

Named for Benton MacKaye, the originator of the Appalachian Trail, crosses the AT about 15 miles south of Blue Ridge and features a 260-foot suspension bridge across the Toccoa River known as the Swinging Bridge. The Benton MacKaye is great option for day hikers, or you can warm up for a thru hike by doing the entire 300 miles ending in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.

 

Grassy Mountain Tower Trail at Lake Conasauga

A couple of special things are going on here with this 4-mile trail – all at once. 1) The location of Grassy Mountain Tower Trail begins and ends with gorgeous views of Fort Mountain and the Cohutta Wilderness.  2) Lake Conasauga is a small, crystal clear mountaintop lake with remarkable beauty; and 3) The historic Grassy Mountain fire tower provides a perch from which to view the length and breadth of this shimmering mountain lake.

 

Emery Creek Falls Trail

This trail follows lushly forested creek banks to a pair of stunning, beautiful, remote waterfalls. The trail is refreshing, and especially fun in the summer months.  The Emery Creek Falls Trail splashes through 20 creek crossings to the pinnacle, cascading Emery Creek Falls.

 

The Jacks River Trail

If you are looking for and adventure, Jacks River ia a 14.8 mile trail located within the Cohutta Wilderness Area. This trail is slightly more advanced and parts of it crosses moving water. Forest service guidance is strongly recommended. However, if a crystal-clear river and a series of waterfalls gets you excited, then you really need to add this hike to your list.

 

The Hemp Top Trail

About 10 miles from Blue Ridge, The Hemp Top Trail is a hike of about 30 minutes, but well worth the trek. This hike accesses peaks that are among the tallest in Georgia — and the views are breathtaking.

 

Hiking anywhere in close proximity to Blue Ridge, Blairsville, Ellijay and Dahlonega in the North Georgia Mountains is an experience not to be forgotten. The exercise, exhilaration and discovery of true companionship along the way always makes for memorable moments. Most of these trails are pet friendly as well, so don’t leave Roscoe at home. Be sure to share your pictures of your journeys with us on Facebook or Instagram. We’d love to see where your Escape to Blue Ridge takes you!