Adventure Awaits in Aska



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

Eat Off Aska

Photo Courtesy of Toccoa Riverside Restaurant

If you’re looking for a tasty meal without breaking the bank, Van Zandt’s Riverwalk Grill & Grocery is a country diner serving breakfast and lunch. Their shelves are stocked with basic groceries and a gift shop with goods crafted by local artisans.

The Toccoa Riverside Restaurant is a true ‘taste-and-see’ spot, as this eatery sits alongside rushing river waters. Here you can feast upon fresh local trout prepared several different ways or choose from the finest and freshest steaks, seafood, ribs, and signature pasta dishes. Pets are welcome and Fido can even enjoy some canine cuisine from the Pooch Porch Goodies menu!

Play

Photo Courtesy of Ashley Williams

Channel your inner child and get ready for a day full of fun and adventure at the Lilly Pad Village. Explore the two acres of picturesque land and choose to go gem mining, fishing, and mini-golfing! You are sure to get lots of smiles out of your little ones, and who knows, you might end up having more fun playing along with them!

Roll up your sleeves and get ready for an entertaining and educational gem mining experience. Once you’ve discovered some shiny treasure, head over to the fishing pond for some peaceful relaxation. The fishing hole, sitting on one-third of an acre, is stocked with catfish, bream, and bass. Fishing tickets and rental equipment are offered on-site. End your trip at Lilly Pad Village with a competitive game of mountainside mini-golf. The nine-hole mini-golf course takes players through tall trees with sounds from a variety of birds and frogs at the lily pond. The best part about Lilly Pad Village is that your activity ticket lasts all day so you can stay as long as you would like!

Explore Trails

Map Courtesy of the Blue Ridge Ranger District Office of the US Forest Service

Because of its mountainous terrain, hiking is one of the main reasons that travelers add Aska to their must-visit list. The Aska Trails Area consists of a 17-mile trail system where hikers and mountain bikers of all skill levels can explore. This trail system highlights the landscapes of North Georgia by revealing mountain peaks, shorelines of Lake Blue Ridge, and a series of hardwood trees among thickets of Mountain Laurel and Rhododendrons.

A few of our favorite hiking and mountain biking trails include:

  1. Long Branch Loop (2.3 miles round trip)
  2. Green Mountain Trail (2.8 miles round trip)
  3. Flat Creek Loop (6 miles round trip)
  4. Stanley Gap Trail (9.5 miles round trip)

A River Runs Through It

Photo Courtesy of Dell Neighbors

The Toccoa River flows parallel to Aska Road and is at the heart of outdoor activities in this idyllic mountain region. The 93-mile-long river journeys through the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Ocoee River Basin and is one of the South’s few north-flowing rivers. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful Toccoa by their choice of tubing, kayaking, rafting, or fishing.

Photo Courtesy of the Toccoa Valley Campground

A tubing trip down the Toccoa River is a popular activity that allows visitors a simple way to capture the river’s beauty. Depending on the drop-off site, you can float on your river tube for an hour or close to four hours. The Toccoa Valley Campground, Shallowford Bridge Tubing, and Van Zandt’s each offer tube rentals, life vests, and a shuttle trip.

Rafting and kayaking allow you to embark along the Toccoa River at your own pace. If you’re looking for a route alone or with a guide, both options are available in Aska. Pack a lunch and enjoy cruising along the mountain waters. Kayaks and rafts can be rented at the Jon Ron Toccoa Outfitters.

Photo Courtesy of Cohutta Fishing Company

Fishing in the surrounding Aska areas provides peace and relaxation for all outdoor enthusiasts. Sandy Bottoms is an excellent spot to splash in the swimming hole or catch fish on a hot summer day. Another great fishing location is at the Shallowford Bridge. Underneath the steel one-lane bridge, fishermen (and women) can set up their line and patiently wait for a bite. Private guided trout fishing tours are also available through companies like Cohutta Fishing Company.

The breathtaking scenery and endless adventures are waiting to be explored off Aska. This adventure area is rich in history and wildlife, and it will be a trip that you won’t forget. Hop in the car and Escape to Blue Ridge to explore the Aska Adventure Area!

Hiking Blue Ridge



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!

Lake Blue Ridge Trail

Photo Courtesy of Ginny Young

Hike alongside this simple and scenic trail and experience one of the most stunning lakes in Georgia for yourself. The Lake Blue Ridge Loop comes in at about 0.8 miles and is well maintained, making it achievable for all ages. Once the hike is finished, head on over to the Morganton Point Recreation Area to splash in the cool lake at their sandy beach!

Toccoa River Swinging Bridge Trail

Photo Courtesy of Cindy Hushon

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!

Grassy Mountain Tower Trail

Photo Courtesy of Robert Shaw

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!

Emery Creek Falls

Photo Courtesy of Susan Burkley Brock

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

Photo Courtesy of Bill Lee

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!

Three Forks to Springer Mountain

Photo Courtesy of Ina Richards

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

Photo Courtesy of Nate Kirby

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

View from Blue Mist Heaven

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!

Fall in Love with Blue Ridge



Fall took a little longer than usual to arrive this year, but as soon as we had our first frost, BAM, the colors started popping! Now everywhere you look you can find brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows. So, grab your favorite boots and cozy sweater and Escape to Blue Ridge for leaf peeping at its best!

3 Falls and a Car

The Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway is a nationally designated Scenic Byway that is 40.64 miles in length and makes a loop through the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest.  Beginning in Blairsville take Hwy 129 South towards Blood Mountain. Turn left on Hwy 180 then right onto Hwy 348 – The Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway. Along the way, you will pass Hatchet Creek Road that leads to Helton Creek Falls. Stop and enjoy both the Upper and Lower falls. The hike is short and easy, less than a mile long and super rewarding!

Continue up the mountain passing Tesnatee Gap, home to the original Old Logan Turnpike Trail. Just around the bend you’ll find Hogpen Gap which has an amazing overlook and picture-perfect opportunities. If you are up for a more challenging waterfall hike, Hwy 348 passes right by the trail-head for Raven Cliff Falls. While Raven Cliff is one of Georgia’s most popular waterfalls, be prepared to take a 2.5-mile journey through the woods.

The last waterfall opportunity on your travels down the Russell-Brasstown Byway is at Dukes Creek Falls. A happy medium between Helton Creek and Raven Cliff, Dukes Creek Falls is a two mile round-trip hike. Passing several small falls along the way, you’ll be rewarded at the end of the trail with a 150 foot, multi-tiered waterfall.  The Russell-Brasstown byway dead ends into Hwy 75 which will take you into the Alpine Village of Helen, Georgia.

See 4 States

The Southern Highroads Trail can be traveled in its entirety or in sections.  This very scenic route travels through four national forests (Chattahoochee, Nantahala, Cherokee, and Sumter) and four states (North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia).  Enjoy shopping, dining, entertainment and outdoor activities in all 13 counties the route passes through.

Another way to see four states without all the mileage is to visit the top of Brasstown Bald. The approach to the Bald is worth the car ride alone. Turning onto Hwy 180 from Hwy 129 South in Blairsville, travel approx. 9 miles to Spur 180. Wind yourself up the mountain and be cautious of the hairpin turns, they’re liable to take your breath. Once you get to the top parking area, you still have another mile to go to reach the highest peak in Georgia at 4,784 feet above sea level! You can choose to hike the steep summit trail or take a shuttle bus up to the top. Either way, you will enjoy a breathtaking 360 degree view of four states (North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia) from the observation deck. Inside you’ll find a museum featuring Georgia and Native American History. It is even said that you can see the Atlanta skyline on a clear day from the top of the Bald!

An Adventure

Just on the other side of downtown Blue Ridge, you’ll find the outdoor adventure area of the Aska Trail Systems. Here you can hike, fish, bike, and leaf peep. Being that Blue Ridge is the Trout Capital of Georgia, access to the Toccoa River is just off Aska Road. If you get hungry the Toccoa Riverside Restaurant is ready to serve you fresh trout, a top sirloin or a plethora of sandwich and salad options. They even have a full Pooch Porch Goodies menu featuring canine cuisines for Fido!

Whether you are biking or hiking, you can choose from strenuous to moderate trails. Our favorite is the hike down to Fall Branch Falls. This is a short half mile, family friendly hike that follows the Benton MacKaye Trail and ends at one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Georgia. The trail is mildly challenging, and the path is mostly uphill, but it is definitely worth the effort! As you approach you will hear the roar of the falls get louder as you near the multi-tiered falls. Notice a short side trail and take this down to the observation deck.

Pinnacle of Beauty

If you really want a mountain experience, you need to take the back roads and experience the simple life we enjoy here in the mountains. Take Highway 60 towards Dahlonega. Start your trip off right with a wine tasting at the picturesque Serenberry Vineyards. When you’ve built up your nerves of steel you can test your balance on the Swinging Bridge. This 270-foot-long suspension bridge is the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi River!

Continue down highway 60 to Georgia’s best secret, Suches, or the Valley Above the Clouds. At 3k feet above sea level, the Suches area provides a stunning view of picture perfect landscapes and glorious mountain views. Here you’ll also find the smallest public school in Georgia educating children from Kindergarten through 12th grade all in one building.

Take Hwy 180 to Lake Winfield Scott. This secret hideaway is a recreation area in the Chattahoochee National Forest. With a beautiful lake as the centerpiece, Winfield Scott beckons you to get out of the car, stretch your legs and take in the untouched beauty of this special part of Georgia. Continue down Hwy 180 with its hairpin turns and lush forest to Vogel State Park, Gerogia’s most beloved State Park. Here you can enjoy the beauty of Lake Trahlyta and take a short walk down to Trahlyta Falls.

Legend Has It

So interesting fact, Lake Trahlyta was named after a Cherokee Indian Princess.  Vogel State Park is located at the base of Blood Mountain where the Native Americans fought many years ago. They say that Slaughter Creek, which runs adjacent to Blood Mountain ran red for 3 days with all the blood that was shed. Lake Winfield Scott, just above, Vogel and Lake Trahlyta, was named after the General that led the Indians out on the Trail of Tears. You can take the full Suches loop around and pass by Trahlyta’s grave which is the rock pile at Stonepile Gap. Legend has it that if you stop and place a rock on Trahlyta’s grave, you too can be as young and happy as she once was.

Photo of Lake Winfield Scott courtesy of Gene Crawford.