The moments when we conquer our fears are the moments when we feel most alive! Extreme activities in the great outdoors allow you to capture the place we all call home from an entirely different perspective. You’ll be chasing the adrenaline rush for days to come! And what better place to try out a new and unusual outdoor activity than in the Blue Ridge Mountains?
These 7 extreme activities will swipe you off your feet…literally!
Choose from 13 extraordinary zip line adventures ranging from 25-75 feet at this property. Ages 10 and up are welcome to experience any of the zip lines. While zipping through the treetops, you’ll catch views of mountain peaks, pastures, and Fighting Town Creek. There are one-hour and two-hour guided tours available to pick the route most suitable for you. The cable lines extend up to 1,000 feet in length so you’ll be soaring as far as the eye can see!
After you’ve completed your zip line tour, head over to the Blue Ridge Adventure Park, located only 15 minutes away from the Zipline Canopy Tours site. This park features climbing walls, zip lines, suspension bridges, and other exciting obstacles. There are three courses with varying levels of difficulty offered for ages seven and up. The paths are designed to stretch your physical and mental ability!
If you’re looking for an action-packed day of fun, you can find it at Rolling Thunder River Company. This thrilling experience can be shared with friends or family and can be enjoyed for a half-day or a full-day long. The two scenic options for whitewater rafting include the Ocoee River in Southern TN or the Nantahala River in Western NC. The Ocoee River rafting center is located only 15 minutes from downtown Blue Ridge, and holds the most continuous class III and IV rapids in the country! These river waters were chosen as the whitewater events venue for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, making them a popular destination since then. A whitewater rafting trip will leave you with a new-found passion, a greater appreciation for wilderness, and probably soaked clothes!
Rolling Thunder River Company 20 Hughes St. McCaysville, GA 30555 | (800) 404-7238 | Hours: Reservations can be made 7 days a week, 10am-5pm
This activity is truly next level! This place is an amusement park for ages 15+ and where every artillery enthusiasts’ dreams come true. At Tank Town USA, visitors can drive real tanks, crush cars with tanks, operate construction excavators, and shoot M-1919 machine guns. These activities are once in a lifetime opportunities or you can become a regular visitor! Group rates are available. Tank Town USA is designed for anyone willing to put the daredevil within them to the test!
Tank Town USA 10408 Appalachian Hwy, Morganton, GA 30560 | (706) 633-6072 | Hours: Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Monday by reservation only
It’s time to let the wind take you away! At Lookout Mountain Flight Park you can learn to hang glide or paraglide through the sky. With stunning views of the Georgia and Tennessee mountains and valleys, this is an activity that will allow you to gain some wings! There are solo and tandem flights available. After lessons and practice with instructors, you will be soaring high with the clouds!
Freefall like never before! Take a chance and fall from an aircraft 14,000 or 18,000 feet in the air. The Chattanooga Skydiving company offers various levels of packages, and their team has been providing skydiving instruction for over 50 years. The skydiving experience is done with a highly experienced skydiving instructor strapped on your back. The instructor will film your jump from their perspective for free!
You can capture the beautiful North Georgia mountains and lakes all in one trip. Their flight packages are available with tours in Gainesville, Blairsville, Blue Ridge, and Hiawassee. The Blue Ridge aerial flight takes passengers around the Blue Ridge Mountains, Lake Blue Ridge, and Lake Nottely. The flight tours range from 15 to 60 minutes. Reach new heights with Wing-N-It seaplane adventures!
Wing-N-It Seaplane Adventures 1660 Palmour Dr. Gainesville, GA 30501| (678) 971-9922 | Hours: Vary. Call for reservations
Calling all thrill-seekers, backpackers, and outdoor enthusiasts! We believe that the view from up above will always be greater than the view from down below! The adrenaline that motivates you to keep going and the feeling of conquering a new trail only make up a fraction of what makes hiking worth the while. The hiking trails located around Blue Ridge remind us why we are so lucky to call this beautiful earth our home!
While hiking through Fannin County you can experience the steep mountain terrain and flowing rivers, making it one of the best ways to spend a sunny afternoon. We rounded up a the top 7 trails for beginners, experts, and everyone in between. Whether you have been hiking for years or just hoping to begin, we have found that the trails can’t tell the difference!
Accessing the 270-foot-long suspension bridge above the Toccoa River can be as short as a .5 mile hike or make it a 2-mile mountain hike and fully take in the beauty of North Georgia! This hike offers a cool breeze from the Toccoa River and the excitement of bouncing along the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi River!
The Swinging Bridge Trail is a part of the Benton MacKaye Trail (BMT) which consists of 300-miles of nature just waiting to be explored! If a 2-mile hike is like a walk in the park for you, keep following the BMT for more mountain views and a multitude of adventures!
Mountain Tower Trail
Hiking through the Cohutta Wilderness on the Grassy Mountain Tower Trail comes with amazing outdoor perks on a 5-mile moderate hike. The adventure begins along the shore of the Lake Conasauga, a spot ideal for a picnic to fuel up for the trek. Once you make your way around the lake, the elevation and the views begin to increase. As you make your way to the trail peak, hikers can expect to see Fort Mountain and long-ranging views. The best part of this trail is climbing the stairs of the historic Grassy Mountain Fire Lookout Tower for an outstanding view of the surrounding countryside!
Serenity and a remote escape from civilization can be found while on the Emery Creek Falls Trail. This intermediate trail takes hikers through 20 creeks and past several waterfalls throughout the 6.2-mile round trip hike. These double waterfalls, located outside of Ellijay, provide plenty of adventure with wildlife and green forestry surrounding your every step!
Hemp Top Trail offers sights with some of the highest peaks in Georgia and provides breathtaking sights of the Tennessee Valley as well. With Blue Ridge located only 10 miles away, this quiet hike will submerge you right into the beauty of the North Georgia wilderness. The abundant hardwood trees provide enough shade for moderate-skilled hikers along the 6.2-mile course and if you’re lucky you may experience a chilly mountain breeze!
Forks to Springer Mountain
This hike to Springer Mountain comes in at 8.6 miles round trip includes mountain peak views, tranquil streams, and a lush environment. This trail intersects with the Benton Mackaye Trail and the Appalachian Trail. Your summer hiking boots will lead you to the official end of the Appalachian Trail once you hike the 4.3 miles to view the Springer Mountain summit. At the Springer Mountain peak, you can take a rest with your portable hammock, grab a handful of your favorite trail mix, or simply sit in awe to marvel at the gorgeous views!
Jacks River Trail
Immerse yourself in the hardwood trees of North Georgia while hiking alongside the Jacks River. Located within the Cohutta Wilderness, the Jacks River Trail invites hikers to witness one of the most captivating waterfalls in the state! This moderately challenging trail reaches a there-and-back total of 9-miles. While a highlight of the hike is the spectacular 80-foot Jacks River Falls, the trail also features wildflowers, mossy river banks, and rocky paths waiting to be explored!
Escape to Nature
If you are looking to Escape to Blue Ridge for the weekend, one week, or even one month, there are a plethora of trails in the Blue Ridge area for you to explore! When our summer schedules get hectic, a change of scenery and a good hike can be the perfect remedy to calm our minds. Before you head out on the trails, don’t forget to bring sunscreen, a healthy snack, and plenty of water!
We would love to see your photos of when you hit the trails this summer! You can find us through our Facebook page or tag us on Instagram @escapetobr and we’ll be sure to feature you!
I’m not sure
if I was in my right mind when I let my two cousins convince me to spend a week
with them in the cabin they rented in Blue Ridge last September. It started as
friendly banter between us at the annual 4th of July family reunion.
My Aunt asked me about my love life, and my cousins snickered. They accused me
of being a workaholic. I assured them that was not the case. They asked me how
much vacation time I had accrued at my job. I admitted to three weeks (It was
actually 5). They challenged me to join them on their annual fall fishing trip,
promised me the master bedroom, and said that if I’d agree to cook the fish
they caught, they’d foot the bill for everything, all week. That included my
choice of wines.
I contemplated. I made them pinky swear to the wines of my choice. My Aunt chided me when she kissed me goodbye that evening. “I look forward to hearing all about you great escape adventure”.
later I was in the back seat of a jeep sans shock absorbers, my suitcase
stuffed with ten books I had been collecting to read on the vacations I had
never found time to take and my cast iron frying pan (because frying fresh
trout in anything else would be a crime).
That evening when we arrived at Eagles Landing, all my trepidations about the “deliverance” experience were evaporated. This cabin was gorgeous. And true to their word, they dropped my bags in the upstairs master suite. I decided to explore the kitchen to see what might already be there to help me execute my “duties” in the next six days. I was impressed with the tools of the trade and took out my tablet to start to create my menu.
Jake and Jeff are twins. My Aunt and her sister (my Mom) were pregnant at the
same time. I was born a mere 34 hours after they were. At family reunions, we
were referred to as the triplets. Growing up we lived just two blocks away from
each other until we all left for college. Our families took summer trips
together for as long as I can remember. Vacationing with these guys wasn’t
going to be a new journey. In many ways, I was hoping it would be a rekindling
of such joyful past adventures. While deciding on the culinary options, I knew
what they’d eat, what they’d abhor, and what would make them gastronomically
morning I woke up to find the car keys on the counter and a credit card. The
note from my cousins said their guide picked them up and I should feel free to
take the jeep into town and shop for whatever was needed to keep us all well
fed and hydrated.
I had done
my internet research on possible provisions before our arrival. My first stop
that morning: Out of the Blue. This is one of the finest gourmet
shops I’ve ever had the pleasure of shopping, and now, on my cousin’s tab, I was
going to indulge for all three of us.
Sara, Out of
the Blue’s founder, who travels all over the world to select wines from small
producers, asked me my vin likes and dislikes. We also discussed my menu ideas
for the next week. I settled on wines from three countries, craft beer for the
boys from the region as well as from Europe, and a selection of cheeses that
she packed on ice for me so I could continue on my shopping adventure. I left
feeling accomplished and I also bid farewell with a promise to revisit before
heading back to the city.
stops were Blue Ridge Olive Oil Co. and Tupelo Tea, two sister stores that abut
one another. My morning rituals are always accompanied by at least one cup of
freshly brewed tea so the first door I chose was Tupelo
Tea. It was amazing;
a “candy store” for tea drinkers. I browsed and sniffed and tasted. After
having indulged in a cup of MOCHA NUT MATE, I left with pouches of PU-ERH
HAZELBERRY and CHINA MILKY OOLONG, as well as a pump jar of honey.
Next door, I found the Blue Ridge Olive Oil Co. to be more than irresistible. I wanted to taste-test every one of their 65+ olive oils and balsamic vinegar from around the world, but alas, the day was short and my palette overwhelmed. I had two salads and two appetizers on my menu that needed the right dressings. Two bottles of olive oil and two of balsamic seemed a bit excessive, but it was my cousins’ nickel. I added a small bottle of blood orange olive oil to the purchase and made a note that I was going to have to make a dessert with this that both of the guys would adore (recipe below).
While downtown, I found my way over to Huck’s General Store. I nearly didn’t find my way back out of there. This is the kind of place that our parents would find on past summer trips, knowing that we kids would be occupied for at least an hour deciding on how we were going to spend the five dollars they gave each of us. Then we’d negotiate with each other for the rest of the trip, swapping pieces of candy and taking turns wearing the raccoon hat. Even though the barrels of candy were overwhelmingly nostalgic, my adult tastes led me to the outstanding selection of rubs, sauces, jellies, pickles, and other canned delicacies. I took a long time deliberating before making my choices: pickled okra, habanero pickled garlic, and Huck’s sweet potato pecan butter. (recipes below).
Man (or in
this case “men”) can not live on just fish alone, so it was off to find some scrumptious
protein. I knew that easy grill meats were in order this week. These guys were
going to want to just kick back with a beer (or 3) after trolling the fishline
all day. I needed to keep it simple but succulent. I wanted a variety of
sausages so my research took me to Margo’s Gourmet Polish Kitchen. Not only did I find a great selection of European weiners
and sausages, but she also carried locally raised beef, pork. chicken and free-range
Now it was
time to take a lovely drive out to Mercier’s Orchard. Mercier’s started over 40 years ago as an apple
orchard, but the second and third generations of the Mercier family have
developed an amazing farm to table experience that draws visitors twelve months
of the year, seven days a week, and from all over the world. I decided that I
would have lunch in their café, and stuffed myself with a delicious salad and a
fried peach pie. That gave me all the energy boost I needed to continue on my
shopping throughout their huge market for the best of provisions.
Mercier’s fresh produce, homemade cheese spreads, and a hefty selection of hard
cider, I had just left myself enough time for my last stop of the day, Ingles Supermarket, Blue Ridge’s large grocery chain
store. Trip Advisor reviews gave Ingle’s nearly 5 stars. It didn’t disappoint.
I found all the rest of the staples on my list and made it home in time to sip
a glass of fine wine while I read three chapters of my first vacation book
before starting dinner.
Snakebite Cocktail: Mix the following in a chilled mug: Six ounces of a dark German Guinness ale from Out of the Blue. A pinch of salt. A tablespoon of liquid from the jar of Huck’s General Store pickled Okra. Stir. Now pour six ounces of Mercier’s Sneaky Jack Hard Cider over the beer mixture. Serve with Huck’s Pickled Okra, (slit down the middle and scoop out the seeds) stuffed with Mercier’s Pimento Cheese Spread. Shake a dash of Cayenne pepper over each filled okra.
Garlic Mashed Potatoes: I cheated and bought Bob Evans family size at Ingles. You can’t tell the difference after I spiced them up with three minced cloves of habanero pickled garlic from Hucks and drizzled with Garlic Olive Oil from Blue Ridge Olive Oil.
Trout: What can one do to fresh trout besides adding a light dusting of flour, salt, and pepper then pan-fry in a hot cast-iron skillet and a large slab of Amish Butter? Well, I topped each filet with a tablespoon of Sweet Potato Pecan Butter from Huck’s General store. The guys devoured it all.
Vegetable: Steamed shredded red cabbage with a side of Spice Apple Chutney from Mercier’s.
Blood Orange Olive Oil Pound Cake
INGREDIENTS (Makes one 9 inch loaf) 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for the pan 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon baking powder Pinch of salt 3 large eggs 1 cup of sugar 1 cup of Blood Orange olive oil 1/2 cup whole milk 4 tablespoons brandy (or bourbon) 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest 1 tablespoon grated orange zest 1/4 cup fresh orange juice ¼ cup of grenadine (maraschino cherry juice) Frosting Ingredients: ¼ cup of sugar ¼ cup of orange juice
PREPARATION Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter a 9 × 5-inch loaf pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and 1 cup of the sugar. Whisk in the olive oil, milk, brandy, lemon zest, orange zest, and 1/4 cup of the orange juice. Add the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. The batter is wet. It’s okay. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean. You will smell the cake when it is done. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool enough to handle, then flip over onto a rack to cool thoroughly. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup orange juice. Turn the cake right side up. Using a pastry brush, brush the glaze all over the cake. Allow the glaze to harden some before serving.
Not a cook? Call the Chef!
Local area professional chefs will come to your cabin, prepare an incredible meal suited to your tastes and dietary needs, and the best part is they clean up all the mess! We recommend you consider one of these amazing options (listed alphabetically because we love all 3!):
Steven Lash is a veteran of the the restaurant world having worked in some of the top kitchens in Atlanta for over 15 years. Steven’s food is best described as “inspired American cuisine” combining fine dining with local influence inspired by his extensive travel, passion for the outdoors, and hunger for understanding cultures.
With over 15 years of restaurant experience, this 33 year old Executive Chef takes pride in sourcing his produce from local farmers, and bringing the best quality to the table for every plate he delivers, so you know it’s fresh!
Using the freshest, often locally sourced ingredients, Chef Trey will create an imaginative menu for your family or friends, all in your kitchen. Giving consideration to food allergies or dietary restrictions is something he takes into account when writing the menus.
For most American kids, our first introduction to the concept of trail markers is Hansel and Gretel’s attempt at leaving crumbs on their venture into the woods. The birds thwarted their efforts and that’s where their fictional journey begins. First published in 1812, their story was read to children in Germany at the same time the Cherokee Indians were creating their own trail markers here in the North Georgia Mountains. Or are Trail trees just folklore?
Trail Marker Trees
Trail trees, trail marker trees, crooked trees, prayer trees, thong trees, or culturally modified trees are hardwood trees throughout North America. One unique characteristic of the trail marker tree is a horizontal bend several feet off the ground, which makes it visible at greater distances, even in snow. These distinctive characteristics convey that the tree was shaped by human activity rather than deformed by nature or disease. The legend is that Native Americans intentionally shaped these trees for navigational purposes or to mark important places, such as sacred burial grounds.
Throughout the North Georgia Mountains, a day of hiking can find you encountering one or more of these gentle bent giants in our forests. As you hike through one of the twenty four top forests in our area you’ll stumble upon some of the most incredible shaped trees and wonder if they are the work of Mother Nature or did an American Indians walk these same trails 200 years ago. It is both highly possible and very likely that the tree was there marking a specific direction or possibly an area where a plant grew at its base that was used for healing.
For many, a hike in the woods is an adventure you remember from your childhood days. It is a child’s foray into uncharted territory, a field or a wooded area close to home where they might discover an old unidentifiable bone, a creek filled with crayfish, or a cluster of butterflies on a floral bush they’ve never seen the likes of before. They come back from these walking expeditions with pockets filled with pretty leaves, unusual shaped stones and always a bird feather or two. As adults we reawaken that lust for exploration and here on these mountain trails, there seems to be one treasure that many are hunting: Fairy Crosses.
The Legend of the Fairy Cross derives from the Cherokee Indians and thought to be over 2000 years old! It is said that long, long, ago fairies inhabited a certain quiet and remote region in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The fairies roamed freely, enjoying the beauty and serenity of that enchanted place. One day, the fairies were playing in a sunny dell when an elfin courier arrived from a far-away city bearing the sad news of Christ’s death. When they heard the terrible details of the crucifixion, the fairies wept. As their tears fell to the earth, they crystallized into little stone crosses. Though the fairies have long since disappeared, the little stone crosses, known as “fairy stones,” still remain as vestiges in that enchanted spot. There was a belief among the Cherokee that the crosses had the power to reduce the owner invisible at will. In some instances, the tiny crosses were supposed to give the owner the power of diving into the ground and coming up again among the enemy to scalp and kill with unexpected terror.
The Scientific Side
Fairy crosses (aka fairy stones) are small bricks originally formed seven miles underground of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Staurolite crystals form into little tiny “bricks” that, under pressure, twist in 60 degree or 90 degree angles, forming crosses. As they push their way up to the earth’s surface, the action of wind and rain dissolve the softer surrounding stone called schist to reveal the precious cross-shaped minerals within.
The good fortune of finding fairy stones is best after a heavy rain. Dig with your hands along the soft dirt at the base of the trees. The cross stones are the same color as the dirt, so use your hands to sift the stones from the soil until you find a cross shaped stone about the size of a small marble, usually less than an inch in length. They are wonderful keepsakes when found, and can be polished and used as a lucky pocket token, or designed into a necklace, bracelet, or earrings.
If you haven’t had the good fortune to find a fairy stone on your hiking trip, you can still find a wonderful collection of fairy crosses at Pezrok in downtown Blue Ridge, a gallery full of artistic creations of exquisite minerals, fossils, gems and carved driftwood.
There are countless numbers of adventures to be had on your visit to these mountains. You’ll want to capture many of your explorations in pictures to take home and share with us, your family, and your friends. Oh, and while you are taking a cell phone selfie at one of the bent trees you are likely to encounter, remember your phone is also equipped with GPS, which will assure your chances of getting back to your car in the parking lot. As we already know from 19th century literature, leaving a trail of breadcrumbs will not suffice.
The Southeastern United States is known for having some of the best whitewater around. Here in Blue Ridge we are within 1 hour of 3 action packed, exciting rivers and 2 hours away from one of the most challenging rivers in the state! Our cabins make the perfect Home Base for day trips, exploring the beauty of Mother Nature and soaking up the Appalachian Lifestyle.
Just thirty minutes from downtown Blue Ridge, you can access the put-in to the 91-mile Cartecay River off Highway 52. This class I-II river starts in foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and runs West and if you follow it pass the common commercial takeout, you’ll float right through the center of town! The river begins with a nice, calm current as it meanders through the valley. About halfway through your float, the rapids begin to increase in frequency and in fun! The last quarter of the river offers some fun rapids that aren’t too terribly technical and end in a last hurrah at Blackberry Falls. This intimidating looking rapid is really just a big slide and is tons of fun to run down regardless of the your water vessel. There are two outfitters, Cartecay River Experience or Ellijay River Outfitters, to help you with shuttle assistance or to rent you a tube, kayak, or canoe.
Bonus: Since Ellijay is the Apple Capital of Georgia, there are plenty of Apple Houses around to stock up on cider, breads, and of course a wide variety of apples!
About an hour Northeast of Blue Ridge after passing through
the mountain towns of Murphy and Andrews in Western North Carolina the road
will narrow up and you will begin to drop down into the Nantahala Gorge. There’s
just something about this gorge that’s special. You can hang a right on old
river road and watch the pro kayakers take on the Cascades and Upper Nantahala
or continue straight to the lower Nantahala and stop at one of many outfitters that
offer guided and non-guided rafting adventures.
The 8-mile Nantahala River is a Class II-III River that runs
right along US HWY 76 deep through the Nantahala National Forest. There is no shortage
of fun on this exciting river! The opening rapid Pattons Run is a good class
III rapid to get your blood pumping right off the bat! After that enjoy a good
hour or two of fun, fast, cold water and about 20 named rapids. The river ends
with the Grand Finale of The Falls. This class III rapid has an observation
deck for passerby’s to stop and watch as the kayaks, canoes, and rafts navigate
the technical section of fast white water as they try to pick the perfect line to
conquer The Falls!
Bonus: Eat at River’s End after a fun day on the water. Enjoy delicious food, friendly service, and a spectacular view of the river below.
Traveling a little less than an hour Northwest from Blue
Ridge the Ocoee River, home of the 1996 Olympics is 10 miles of Whitewater fun!
The aforementioned Olympic competition took place on the upper section of the
Ocoee River. This super technical section of the river features some of the
biggest most challenging rapids and is only able to be experienced for 34 days
per year. The Middle Ocoee is 5 miles of class III and IV rapids. Hop on Mother
Nature’s natural roller coaster and squeal with delightment as your trusty raft
guide navigates you and your party down the river with great care to maximize
the fun! From the put in at Grumpy’s to the ending rapid at Hell’s Hole, you
will never forget the fun and excitement of a trip down the Ocoee!
Bonus: Love to mountain bike? The Cherokee National Forest features miles of mountain biking trails.
Made famous after the filming of the movie Deliverence, the
Chattooga River is about two hours from Blue Ridge. Flowing across both Georgia
and South Carolina, the Chattooga River is divided into 4 sections with section
4 being probably the hardest in the Southeast. The class III section increases
in difficulty from a mild beginning to a challenging final rapid at Bull Sluice. Being that section 4 of the Chattooga begins at
the hardest rapid on section 3 should lead you to believe that this will be a much
more challenging run, and you’d be absolutely right about that. The crux of
section 4 is at the Five Falls Section of the river. These Class IV rapids are
no joke with a 75 foot drop from the beginning to end.
Bonus: Add to your adrenaline rush by booking a Zipline trip where you fly through the sky, over lakes, and among nature!
Whether your family gets together every year or every few
years, it’s always a good time to come together and celebrate your history and
heritage. Reunions give the older generations time to sit together and
reminisce and the younger generations and meet each other and develop lifelong
Blue Ridge, Georgia is the perfect location to plan a family
reunion because there is something to entertain the entire family. Book a ride
on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway or plan
a hike to Long
Creek Falls along the Benton Mackaye Trail.
Maybe a tractor ride and apple picking at Mercier Orchards is on the agenda
or an exhilarating rafting trip on the Ocoee River will bond together
long-lost family members. Either way, you need a base camp and we have the perfect
cabins to accommodate your group!
Not every Georgia mountain cabin rental looks like the
elegant homes in “Southern Living” magazine, but Ambleside is that
kind of place! Exquisitely appointed, this five bedroom, five and a half bath lodge
is roomy enough to accommodate (16) sixteen guests in comfort and style. Add in
magnificent mountain and river views from every window and fun things to do
right on the property and nearby, and you have the makings of a magical vacation!
Ambleside rests on a hillside in a
secure, gated community eight miles from downtown Blue Ridge, between the
seventh and eighth holes of the top-rated Old Toccoa Farm golf course which you
have “member rate” access to play. The cabin’s property overlooks the fairway
and the Toccoa River below inviting your family to fish, kayak, or explore the
beautiful hiking trails.
Take turns preparing meals in the
fully stocked expansive kitchen with its new stainless-steel appliances,
granite countertops, and conveniences like an icemaker, coffeemaker, blender,
and anything else you may need to prepare a feast for your crowd. After dinner,
enjoy a friendly game of ping pong or foosball or take it outside for a corn
hole tournament! End the day relaxing in
the hot tub or roasting s’mores over the fire pit area.
Situated directly on Lake Blue
Landing is a spectacular showplace that has incomparable views of the
surrounding mountains! If the epitome of rustic elegance is what you’re looking for, this spacious
lodge has seven bedrooms to accommodate (19) nineteen guests!
By day, the whole family can enjoy
boating and swimming at the lake and all the activities the nearby Aska Adventure
Area has to offer. Unwind afterward with good food, conversation, and
entertainment indoors or under the stars. Whether inside or out, enjoy views
and privacy that cannot be found anywhere else. You may even be lucky enough to
spot the family of bald eagles that nests nearby!
There are three decks spanning the
length of the home, a hot tub, swings, and a picnic table, but that’s
not all! This home comes complete with a two-story dock that has enough
furniture enough to accommodate sixteen! Enjoy a picnic on the water,
fishing directly from the dock, taking a ride on the paddleboat, or
swimming. There are also two ramps for watercraft, as well accommodations
for a motorboat. Whether you and your family spen time watching the skiers
and wakeboarders, or watching an incomparable sunset, you’ll spend as much time
as possible on the dock!
Falling Waters Lodge
Falling Waters Lodge sits at the pinnacle of luxury in every way. The four bedroom, three and a half bath retreat can comfortably accommodate (12) twelve guests. Lucky for you, the home’s location is at one of the highest points in the Aska Adventure Area. Step out on the expansive decking, which provides the best seat in the house, as you become the ultimate spectator of nature’s most majestic scenic views!
Every detail put into Falling
Waters is living testimony that craftsmanship is alive and well. It is large
and spacious with abundant windows, yet it is also – somehow – inviting and
snug. You will become invigorated as you inch up the driveway
passing the gazebo, fire pit and of course, the home’s multi-level waterfall
for which it is named, and that bids you welcome.
At Falling Waters, every luxury is
thoughtfully provided from high-thread linens to a gourmet kitchen. The home
offers entertainment you can share from the game library or billiards, ping
pong and air hockey fun. Or, make your time as personal as a work out in the
home’s private gym. In the evening, take in the sun set over the mountains,
from the hot tub which is set on the lower-level deck or choose to cap off the
evening with a movie in the theater-quality media room.
Just Like Heaven
Heaven is a gorgeous mountain retreat that features six bedrooms for up to (16)
sixteen guests making it perfect for a vacation with your entire family!
With incredible seasonal mountain views this
cabin in the Blairsville woods is your own private, secluded hideaway but close
to activities like hiking, horseback riding, fishing and boating at Cozy Cove
Marina. There’s even an ATV trail at nearby Davenport Ridge!
Inside, Just Like Heaven is warm, airy, and bright, with décor
that’s a professionally decorated mix of modern and traditional furnishings,
colors and touches. The solid pine interior, vaulted ceilings and spacious open
living area provide a welcoming setting for gathering before the wood-burning
fireplace. Upstairs in the media room, you’ll find billiards, shuffleboard,
board games, a karaoke machine, foosball, an enormous 103” flat screen TV with
DirecTV and DVD for hours of fun and entertainment!
There’s even more fun to be had
outside, where you can play corn hole, basketball, ping-pong or fire up the
charcoal grill for an al fresco meal. There’s plenty of comfortable seating on
the covered deck, where there’s a wood burning fireplace to keep you cozy on crisp
evenings while you enjoy the mountain air. But the best attribute of Just Like Heaven is the feeling it
gives you while you’re there and the experience you’ll take home with you. The
name says it all!
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!
You’ll have everything you need to
entertain your (13) thirteen guests in this six bedroom, six and a half bath
lodge and on the land surrounding you. Bring your fishing pole and spend the
day at the stocked trout stream rushing right outside your door, or simply have
fun splashing around and getting a little sun! Go on an exhilarating hike
through one of the property’s hiking paths, or enjoy a leisurely stroll in the
pastures, taking in breathtaking mountain views around you. The gang can even
play a little touch football on the sprawling lawn. You can also take a
foursome just a short drive to one of three fantastic golf courses in the area
or indulge in a little pampering at a spa in town followed by some shopping.
In case of inclement weather you can spend an afternoon in the
game room downstairs playing pinball, billiards, foosball, ping pong or board
games — there’s a little something for everyone. And with another gourmet
kitchen and wet bar at the ready, you’ll have everything you need — no need to
even go upstairs for snacks and drinks! 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!
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. With
the smoker and gas grill at the ready, host a mouthwatering barbecue — with two
picnic tables, there’s plenty of room for everyone to dine al fresco, with the
soothing sounds of the nearby stream as background music. Or, perhaps make a feast
in the enormous gourmet kitchen, and everyone can gather ’round the large
dining table in front of epic mountain views!
is the name, the view will explain. The
largest of our cabin rentals, this six bedroom, five and a half bath
home can comfortable accommodate (21) twenty-one guests. 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. The palatial custom gourmet kitchen is made for
entertaining, with two refrigerators, two dishwashers, two drawer warmers, a
double oven and wine cooler. Relax after a meal in the great room
with its 32 ft. vaulted ceiling, imposing iron chandelier, custom woodcarvings
of wildlife adorning the walls, and a huge stone fireplace as the room’s
centerpiece. The curved, windowed wall has built-in seating for a perfect view
of the hills and starlit sky offering wide-open 40-mile views!
Outside the fire pit is an enchanted place for stargazing and making s’mores. During the day, 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. They can also have lunch at the picnic tables whenever they’re ready. And there’s plenty of room for everyone at dinner as well – you can seat 20 between the formal dining room and informal dining seating.
We are here to help make your family reunion one for the books! Our helpful Reservation Specialists can assist with any concierge services you would like. From stocking your fridge to booking an excursion, we are here to help! Escape to Blue Ridge for an unforgettable family vacation!
A vacation usually means a bit of sightseeing and possibly seeking that one celebrity spotting you always associated with your destination. If visiting the Palm Beaches you might be hoping to catch a glimpse of the Presidential motorcade, where on LA’s famous Rodeo Drive, a glimpse of Brad sipping an iced Caramel Macchiato at Starbucks might be your quest. And what (or whom) are some tourists visiting the Northeast Georgia Mountains yearning to see? Well, Bigfoot, of course!
A legend or not?
To many in this neck of the woods, Bigfoot (aka Sasquatch, Yowie and Yedi) isn’t just a 20th-century folk legend. The first recorded sighting of him here in Fannin County was June 26, 1873. Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest has long been known as a hotbed for Bigfoot activity amongst the Bigfoot research community. And if you think that those who have an interest in this mysterious creature are just a little bit left of center, take into consideration that the famed anthropologist and highly regarded scientist Jane Goodall has said of Sasquatch beings, “I’m fascinated by them and would actually love them to exist”.
This reddish-brown hairy creature is reportedly about 8 feet in height and his alleged footprints that have been found all across the globe suggesting he has a 24-inch long foot that measures 8 inches across. To put that into some perspective, NBA giant Shaquille O’Neal is 7’1” and the length of his foot measures 15 inches.
Blue Ridge Museum
If taking a hike out into the forest after the sun sets, night vision glasses in place, to snap your photo op with Bigfoot is too much effort, don’t let that deter you from finding out all you can about him. While here in Blue Ridge, plan to visit EXPEDITION: BIGFOOT! The Sasquatch Museum, located just east of the city. 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.
See For Yourself
The quality of the displays and the huge amount of content are most impressive. In addition to the extensive collection of artifacts, the museum has interactive exhibits, lots of scientific analysis making the credible case that there are Sasquatches roaming the earth, and audio-video presentations that captivate even the least likely believers, young and old. Yes, kids are fascinated with this self-guided tour that usually lasts 90 mins to two hours. We highly recommend this as a Plan B family destination when a rainy mountain day messes up your original outdoor intentions.
The museum, located at 1934 GA-515, Cherry Log, GA, is open Wednesday through Monday from 10 am till 5 pm. Admission is $8 for adults and $6 for children age 5 to 12. Kids under 5 and Active Military (with ID) are free! It’s more than a fair price for an educational and entertaining museum of this quality, with such fun opportunities for photo ops that will sure to bring gasps to your friends back home. And though you will be welcomed by a super cool staff that is known for sharing free coffee and cookies to their guests, you might want to be prepared to drop a few bucks on souvenirs at the museum’s bountiful gift shop, where Bigfoot really comes to life.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
It’s hard to imagine anything more tranquil, peaceful, powerful and appealing than a waterfall. And if one is good, many are better. Fortunately, in Blue Ridge and Fannin County, there is an abundance of rushing water, and impressive elevations – and, thanks to gravity, it all inevitably leads to waterfalls in various forms or fashion – all about 30 minutes’ drive from town.
Starting with waterfalls closest to downtown Blue Ridge, Long Creek Falls provides easy access and an impressive view of a 50-foot drop in two sections. The bonus here is that the falls are at the intersection of the Appalachian and the Benton MacKaye trails, both of which offer a reasonable, but not daunting hike in.
Also nearby, is the upper part of Fall Branch Falls, which is a series of cascading waterfalls leading to a single drop of about 30 feet into a deep pool at the base of the falls. Fall Branch is a slightly less dramatic drop, but the hike is more challenging and the sound of cascading falls along the trail can be heard before it’s seen.
Just north of Blue Ridge, close to Morganton, Sea Creek Falls rewards a hiker’s driving indulgence with a short walk to a series of steep cascades. Like Long Falls, Sea Creek drops in two sections, and at high water times of the year (usually later winter and early spring) these cascading waterfalls are enormously impressive.
It’s not a well-known fact that the Blue Ridge Mountains are older than the Rockies, but it explains the softer and relatively less severe ridge lines, thanks to centuries of weather wearing away the rough edges. Still, there are areas in these mountains that feature geological fissures affording deep drops and in the case of Amicalola Falls, just south of Ellijay, the result is a 729-foot cascading waterfall, the steepest east of the Mississippi.
Amicalola can be accessed by way an arduous hike from Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, or by car through Amicalola State Park. If you choose the State Park route, there are a few viewing options – 1) drive to the top of the falls and look down; 2) walk up the meandering staircase, which features switchbacks and landing platforms; or 3) hike up the backside of the falls to the top and have drinks or lunch at Amicalola Falls Resort. Any and all are good options.
Whatever you choice in waterfall hunting, you can’t go wrong. From pastoral to pounding waterfalls, they are a great destination and a rich reward after a drive, hike, walk or run. Additionally, they are a great way to experience family fun together, build camaraderie among buddies, or add a bit of romance to a relationship. Get out and explore. You’ll be glad you did.
We love to see your Blue Ridge adventures! Please share your favorite waterfall photos with us on our Facebook page or tag us on Instagram @escapetobr. We can’t wait to see!