When we say the old Blue Ridge mountains, we mean it! As part of the Appalachian mountain range, the Blue Ridge mountains are the second oldest range in the whole world. Over 1 BILLION years ago, shifts in our Earth’s tectonic plates caused the Blue Ridge mountains to form in a system of peaks and valleys that span eight states!
Sometimes it’s a little confusing that you can see the Blue Ridge mountains in other states besides Georgia but these mountains are vast. There is a Northern section that includes Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. The Southern section includes West Virginia, Tennessee, North & South Carolina, and of course right here in Blue Ridge, Georgia! Our particular section of the range is known as the Appalachian Mountain Range and we are a part of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest.
They Really are Blue!
Have you ever wondered why these mountains are called Blue Ridge? If you catch any section of the range at the right time of day, you’ll see that the mountains have a distinctive blue color. The forests that cover these rocky protrusions are predominately made up of spruce and fir trees and they emit isoprene into the atmosphere creating the blue hue!
The Blue Ridge Mountains can span across 60 miles in some locations. While the tallest mountain in this system is Mount Mitchell in North Carolina rising at 6,684 feet high, just 30 minutes from downtown Blue Ridge is the tallest peak in Georgia, Brasstown Bald rising at 4,784 feet above sea level! Here you can see 4 states!
The Native Americans, and specifically the Cherokee, lived in the Blue Ridge area more than 12,000 years ago! The moderate climate and the character of the mountains themselves, made a perfect region for inhabitants to settle. They farmed and hunted in the valleys and mountains that they called “the Enchanted Land” until they were forced to leave on the Trail of Tears.
One popular trail system that follow the Blue Ridge mountains all the way through Virginia is the Appalachian Trail. Hikers along the trail get the advantage of seeing the stunning untouched beauty of the mountains.
At the extreme Southern tip of the Appalachian Trail and the
entire Blue Ridge mountain system is the spectacular Amicalola
Falls, the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi!
It’s time to cool off and soak in the views from North Georgia’s creeks, rivers, and streams. These small, but mighty, bodies of water offer an extensive variety of activities and adventure. The canopy trees, wildlife, and stunning boulders all around the waters provide plenty of sights for the whole group.
The spectacular waters found in the North Georgia Mountains are truly hidden gems. With hot temperatures rising, jumping into these cool waters is a must. These parks and recreation areas will allow you to experience the beauty of nature in a family-friendly environment. The best part is you can stay as long as you’d like! The sun is shining, the water is flowing and the mountains are calling! So what are you waiting for?! Grab your water shoes and let’s go!
Cooper Creek Recreation Area
Nestled in the North Georgia Mountains, Cooper Creek Recreation Area is a prime location for an afternoon or a weekend of adventure! Activities at this recreation area include hunting, hiking, and trout fishing. Cooper Creek is stocked with rainbow trout so all fishermen will not leave disappointed! After you’ve explored the shady banks of Cooper Creek, grill some burgers and hot dogs for a creek-side cookout!
Mulky Recreation Area
Another spot located along Cooper Creek is the Mulky Recreation Area. This is a simple, yet serene environment to spend some time. Activities involving hiking, fishing, and creek splashing are all offered at the Mulky Recreation Area. Test out your hiking boots on the Yellow Mountain Trail, which follows an old logging road for 3.6 miles through forests of hemlock, pine and hardwood.
Deep Hole Recreation Area
The Deep Hole Recreation Area is just north of Suches, GA, and sits alongside the banks of the Toccoa River. This campground has picnic tables, benches, and trails through the lush forest. There is also a canoe launch available if you’re looking to experience the river in a new way. Bring your portable hammock to swing within the trees and take a nap with the soothing sound of the Toccoa’s waters!
Sandy Bottoms Recreation Area
The Sandy Bottoms Recreation Area is filled with towering hardwoods and views of the Toccoa River. It is in Morganton, GA, making it not too far from the town of Blue Ridge. There are places to camp, fish, swim, or sit and enjoy the outdoor scenery. This is a site that is pleasant all year long, but there is no better time than now to check it out for yourself!
Tammen Park is only a few miles north of the town of Blue Ridge and is a great place for the entire family. The park amenities here include a softball field, sheltered pavilions with picnic tables, river access, and a playground. The Toccoa River access at the park is the perfect spot to cast a line or load in your kayak or canoe. With Lake Blue Ridge sitting right around the corner, you’ll find yourself wandering around the area all day!
The Amicalola River is a stream part of the Etowah River and lends its name from the popular Amicalola Falls. This site offers walking trails, stunning sights of the water rapids, and a swimming hole. With its sandy beaches, there are multiple places alongside this stream to enjoy an outdoor picnic! After your adventure, head over to Amicalola Falls State Park to catch the 729-foot cascading falls. You can then watch the sunset fall behind the mountains at the Amicalola Falls Lodge and grab a bite to eat or a refreshing drink!
Horseshoe Bend Park
This park offers a full day of fun! Located in McCaysville, it is a wonderful place to bring the entire family. The Toccoa River flows alongside the Horseshoe Bend Park offering non-stop views. Picnic tables, volleyball nets, and playgrounds are all available for use at this park. Horseshoe Bend Park is also the location of ‘Pickin’ In the Park’. ‘Pickin’ In the Park’ is an event with live music from local artists. It occurs every Thursday, May- September, from 6pm to dusk and is a relaxing place to enjoy a summer’s evening!
The Hiwassee River
The Hiwassee River begins in Towns County and flows through the spectacular North Georgia Mountains, into North Carolina, and eventually merging into the Tennessee River. Activities at the Hiwassee River include walking, fly-fishing, kayaking, or tubing. There are plenty of sights and plenty of opportunities for adventure!
Waterfalls are one of nature’s most beautiful sights and the surrounding areas around Blue Ridge have plenty to explore. These waterfalls offer views that appeal to all ages and the anticipation leading up to the waterfall can be an enjoyable experience of its own. Nature is calling and it’s waiting for you to explore these falls on your next Escape to Blue Ridge!
Located right on the edge of the North Georgia Mountains, Amicalola Falls State Park is one of the most visited parks in Georgia. The 729-foot falls, south of Ellijay, make it the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi River. The forest and mossy terrain surrounding the waterfall truly complete the picturesque scene.
The ease of access to Amicalola Falls is another factor that contributes to the visit. The top part of the falls can be viewed by a drive through the State Park and looking down. Another popular option is to park your car at the State Park parking lot and access the falls by climbing the lengthy staircase with viewing platforms leading up to the cascading water. The 600 stairs are well worth the effort and offer views of Amicalola Falls throughout its mildly steep course. The waterfall can also be viewed by a 7.5-mile hike starting at Springer Mountain, the southern end of the Appalachian Trail. All three options offer breathtaking scenery along the way and the Amicalola Falls Lodge is an ideal spot for a refreshing drink or meal to complete your day!
Only 20 minutes from Blue Ridge, Fall Branch Falls is a location where you can spend a half-hour or a half-day! The adventure begins with only a 0.5-mile shaded path that leads visitors to a series of cascading waterfalls reaching 30 feet. The area below the falls is great for a picnic or water break. The mist from the side of the cliff and the water at the base of the falls make for a perfect place to cool down from a hot summer’s day. But watch your step because the rocks can sure be slippery! The observation deck at the falls can be used to snap a picture or to admire nature’s beauty.
This pair of waterfalls can be found near Blairsville and by following a brief 0.3-mile trail. The trail consisting of wildlife and greenery brings visitors to the smaller Lower Helton Creek Falls first. The trail continues ahead to the Upper Helton Creek Falls, where the 50-foot rush of water can be seen. If you make the short journey up to Helton Creek Falls on a sunny afternoon, we promise you won’t regret it!
Long Creek Falls
With towering trees and a 50-foot double-tiered waterfall, Long Creek Falls is easily one of Fannin County’s most treasured sights. The falls are only a short drive from downtown Blue Ridge and can be found at the intersection of the Appalachian and the Benton MacKaye trails. This makes Long Creek Falls a beautiful stop for a variety of travelers and explorers. The hike to admire the waterfall is under a mile and the boulders along the edge of the falls offer visitors a peaceful spot for a water break or a nature-filled conversation!
Sea Creek Falls
Most breathtaking after a summer rain, Sea Creek Falls can be accessed after only a 0.1-mile walk. A trip to see the double cascading falls at Sea Creek Falls, located outside of Blairsville, can be appreciated by skill levels of all ages. The falls displaying 30 feet of mountain water offer sounds, views, and relaxation for any visitor. The water flowing at the base of Sea Creek Falls is available for feet or paws to splash around in while enjoying a break from the Southern heat.
Remarkable in any season, North Georgia is lucky to claim these waterfalls. A breath of fresh air, a cooling mist from the cliffs, and a leisurely mountain walk are all waiting for you at these five waterfalls just a short drive away from Blue Ridge.
embark on your next waterfall adventure, be sure to share your trip with us on
our Facebook page or tag us on Instagram @escapetobr. We can’t wait for you to
experience these stunning falls for yourself!
As we ring in not just a New Year, but a new Decade, 365 opportunities await you to get out and explore the beautiful North Georgia Mountains. Here are a few of our favorite ideas to enjoy your 2020 Escape to Blue Ridge!
1. EAT BLACK-EYED PEAS & COLLARD GREENS
After all, it’s a southern
tradition. Eat these as your first meal for the New Year and you will
increase your luck and prosperity for the year ahead. The Village Restaurant
will be open and ready to serve you the very best in Southern Cuisine
2. WALK THE LINE
Take a walk on the state line between the twin
cities of McCaysville, Ga and Copperhill, Tn! This newly revitalized town
features great shopping, delicious restaurants, and plenty of photographic
3. HIT THE LINKS
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!
4. ENJOY LIFE ON THE LAKE
Blue Ridge offers 3,290-acres of crystal-clear water to explore. Bring your
own water craft, rent a pontoon boat, or take a guided tour with Capt’n
Joe. Whether you are kayaking, tubing, fishing, or just floating along,
there is no prettier place in the world than where the mountains meet the
5. SADDLE UP & RIDE
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.
6. TAKE IN A FESTIVAL OR 5
There is always something happening in these here mountains.
Festival season begins in February and ends in October, plus holiday activities
are abundant in November and December. You will be blown away with the ice
sculpting that takes place at the annual Fire and Ice
Chili Cookoff. Blue Ridge festivals are family friendly, pet friendly, and
7. FLY FISH IN THE TROUT CAPITAL OF GEORGIA
Brown trout, rainbow trout, and native trout are abundant in
our freshwater mountain streams. Stop by and see Andy Bowen at the Cohutta Fishing Company for some
flies and a pole. Then head out to the headwaters of the Toccoa River,
Noontootla Creek, or Rock Creek for premier trout fishing.
8. WALK IN THE WOODS
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
MacKaye Trail, 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.
Plan to visit EXPEDITION:
BIGFOOT! The Sasquatch Museum. You may be 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 Big Footers from around the globe
make the pilgrimage to Blue Ridge just to explore this museum and its many
11. SWING INTO THE NEW YEAR
Pack up a picnic and hit either the Benton MacKaye Trail or
the Duncan Ridge National Recreation Trail to the Swinging
Bridge. This 270-foot-long suspension bridge is the longest swinging bride
east of the Mississippi River! If you do decide to jump in the middle, make
sure you are faster than your travel buddies or you might get thrown off!
12. CHASE WATERFALLS
A short, family friendly hike makes Fall
Branch Falls a must do activity for the young and young at heart. Explore
both the upper and lower area of the falls and take time to relax on the rocks
and enjoy the views. Don’t forget to bring your best friend. Dogs will enjoy
the trail as much as their humans.
13. CHOO CHOO
The iconic Blue Ridge Scenic
Railway is a must do when in town. Enjoy the scenery every season of the
year as the train departs from Downtown Blue Ridge and travels the countryside
to the revitalized towns of Copperhill, TN and McCaysville, GA
14. DRIVE IN
If you haven’t been to a drive-in movie since you were a
kid, we encourage you to make plans to go to the Swan Drive In Theater
and take in a show or a double feature! A throwback to yesteryears, there is
just something so fun about watching a movie outdoors.
15. FAIRY CROSS & TRAIL TREES
Legend has it that as the Native Americans embarked on the
Trail of Tears, they shed tears of sorrow that fell to the ground and formed
tiny crosses of stone known as Fairy
Crosses. Commonly known as staurolite crystals, these minerals are abundant
in Fannin County.
16. HIT THE RAPIDS
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!
If you are looking for a new hair style, a total manicure
and pedicure, body scrub, massage, or a special facial treatment/peel, you will
find an amazing staff of creative and accomplished cosmeticians, estheticians
and stylists, the caliber you would only expect to find in a metropolitan area,
in the Mountains.
18. TAKE IN A SHOW
Immerse yourself in the culture of the area at Blue Ridge Community Theater.
This cozy community theater offers quality productions, live music, and a
robust children’s program. The 2020 line-up includes the first ever Blue Ridge
Film Festival, surprisingly saucy comedies, musicals, and even a sweet summer
19. SCENIC DRIVES
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.
Drive the 41 miles of Georgia’s only national scenic
drive, The Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway as it circles around the
Chattahoochee National Forest.
20. BOOK AN ESCAPE TO BLUE RIDGE
There is just something about these mountains that is so
good for the soul. Whether you want to come for a romantic getaway, to
reconnect with friends and family, or to enjoy the abundant outdoor adventures,
we have the
perfect cabin for you!
We wish each of you and yours a prosperous year ahead filled
with lots of love, exciting adventures, and many opportunities to make
heartfelt memories. Happy New Year!
Who needs Napa Valley, when you have North Georgia?In fact, North Georgia, and specifically Dahlonega, has been called the Napa of the East. So, what’s the point of hopping on a plane, enduring crazy traffic, and dealing with stifling crowds? Right here in North Georgia you will be better served, remain relaxed, and meander the charming and scenic back roads of Blue Ridge, Ellijay, Dahlonega, Blairsville, and Helen to enjoy a wine experience that’s even better than what the wild west can offer!
1st Place Winners
Surprisingly enough, it turns out North Georgia wines also are winning quality competitions in California’s very own backyard which is causing quite the “Bottleshock” to all the more seasoned western vineyards. So quality-wise, the wine is not a concern. Which makes another good reason to stay close to home!
Starting in Blue Ridge, it doesn’t take long to feel like you’re in wine country. Within an hour’s drive you might swear you just caught a glimpse of Tuscany, or around the corner there’s what looks like Oregon, California, or Upstate New York. North Georgia looks like a lot of other states in the beauty department. That’s why Hollywood likes Georgia, and especially North Georgia, so much. It could look like the Midwest, inland Oregon, or maybe even New England.
For wine production purposes in these parts, the secret lies in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains, which provide ideal weather, geography and geology for successful vinifera grape growing due to its long springs, hot, dry summers, and elevations between 1,300 – 1,800 feet.
It’s All About The Grapes
The trail of six farm wineries that lead from Dahlonega north and east into White County and Helen is a great example of how terrain changes dictate grape production and variety of purpose. Designated as the “Dahlonega Plateau”, an AVA (American Viticultural Area), on July 20, 2018, the area encompasses 133 square miles with the same climate, soil, elevation and physical features creating conditions that are ideal for growing grape varietals such as Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Merlot.
Passport to Wine
2020 Wine Highway Week is now a MONTH long! Enjoy touring 24 participating vineyards in the beautiful mountains while you discover Georgia wines! There will be a $50.00 fee for each participant which will be collected at the first winery visited. Travelers will receive a “Wine Highway Week” collectors’ glass and Passport which will give them admission to ALL participating wineries at no additional charge. Be sure to keep you Passport and Collectors glass with you at all wineries visited! You can purchase your Passport on line at: www.georgiawineproducers.org/shop
The Wine Highway
Wolf Mountain Vineyards & Winery is tucked in the hills just 45 minutes from Blue Ridge and a five-minute drive from downtown Dahlonega. Wolf Mountain is elegant, with spectacular views, the perfect wedding and event venue, but also the ideal place for Sunday brunch, or fun gatherings with friends. A lot of the North Georgia wineries multi-task that way.
Montaluce Winery and Restaurant, with its elegant, ivy-covered walls, and its porches with views to the vineyard, conjures up images of Italy, but is also the site of bike races that have featured the likes of Lance Armstrong and Georgia Hincapie. This breathtaking destination offers a spectacular brunch on Sunday and lunch and dinner Monday through Sunday.
Kaya Vineyard & Winery, in White County, makes the best of the perfect perch, with 360 degree views of Blue Ridge scenery. Wines produced from Kaya’s vines have received over fifty awards and most recently, the vineyard was recognized for producing grapes for one of the “Top 50 Wines of the Year” reviewed by the Wine Report.
The Cottage Vineyard & Winery, one of the earliest Georgia farm wineries on the scene, founded in the late 1990s, actually has church services on Sunday mornings, with inspiring views of the vineyard. Paying homage to all military men and women is a North Georgia Honor Wall that features the 5 service flags of the US Armed Forces: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corp., and Navy as well as the POW and U.S. Flags.
The wineries of all three – Dahlonega, White County and Gilmer make for a pleasant mix of wine trail possibilities – from upscale to downhome; and from farm to fancy. At Cavender Creek Vineyards and Winery you can even pet donkeys and alpacas. It’s a local favorite, especially on Friday nights, and live music is always a draw, as it is at most wineries on the weekends.
You’d guess by the name, that Three Sisters Vineyards was a family winery started by siblings – good guess, but wrong. It is indeed a family winery, but the name refers to the three Blue Ridge Mountain ridges that form the perfect backdrop for wedding and special events.
Frogtown Wine, a perennial winner of prestigious national and international wine competitions, offers dramatic 50-mile views, but the ambiance is decidedly California casual, especially the bright white main lodge with deck seating. There are 23,000 grape vines in Frogtown’s North Georgia vineyards capable of producing up to 180 tons of premium wine grapes each year. This tonnage equates to over ten thousand cases of Estate grown wine per year!
On the Ellijay side of Blue Ridge, Fainting Goat Vineyards (yes, they actually have fainting goats), and Cartecay Vineyards, with its distinctive fireplace and iconic chimney, both make for fine outdoor enjoyment most times during the year. Chateau Meichtry specializes in combining wine tasting with learning a lot about the wines, and the entire process of wine production. All three feature live music most weekends.
Right here in Blue Ridge we are lucky to have two great wineries: Bear Claw Vineyards and Serenberry Vineyards. Bear Claw Vineyards is welcoming for every member of the family, both two legged and four. Well behaved pets are welcome and there are plenty of games to keep the kids busy while you catch up with your friends and family while you sip their delicious wines. At Serenberry, you are invited to savor the day by relaxing in a beautiful mountain setting while tasting delicious wines!
So, who needs Napa? With the broad variety of wines, and the expanse of experiences, plus the proximity and easy scenic drives (be sure to stop along the way at Amicalola Falls, the highest cascading waterfall on the East Coast), or at charming farmers markets, orchards and food stands – that is indeed the question.