In the North Georgia Mountains, we celebrate four gentle yet very distinct seasonal transitions, each measured very close to the designated tri-month celestial calendar. Mother Nature’s landscape specialist (shall we call her Flora?) takes a particular interest in altering our mountainscape on a quarterly basis, cloaking it in very different hues, depths of foliage, and fragrances.
To get a full appreciation of Flora’s artistry in any one of the seasonal changeovers, we encourage you to drive the 41 miles of Georgia’s only national scenic drive, The Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway. The Byway, one of only 120 highways across our fifty states so designated, circles around the Chattahoochee National Forest and can be launched just seventeen miles southeast of Fannin County, at the intersection of Hwys 129 and 180, located in neighboring Union County.
Highest Peak In GA
Following Hwy 180 northeast, you’ll travel twelve miles to the entrance to Brasstown Bald, the highest mountain elevation (4,784’) in Georgia. When you get to the top of the Bald’s observation tower, you will have a spectacular 360-degree view of three states!
Anna Ruby Falls
Back on Hwy
180 and after heading southeast for ten miles, you will turn south onto Hwy
75/17. Over the next 10 miles, you will motor through some of the heaviest of
forestry, including designated recreation areas Unicoi Gap and Andrews Cove. These are ideal places to hike,
fish, picnic or just relax before heading out on the next part of your
adventure. Driving for just a few minutes you will arrive at one of the
region’s finest natural gems, Anna Ruby Falls. This double waterfall is formed from the merging of two
creeks, both sourced from underground springs.
more miles south you will find yourself at Unicoi State Park, where you can jet off on a bicycle, paddleboard on Unicoi
Lake or eat at the Unicoi Restaurant located in the beautifully appointed
If you haven’t visited Bavaria’s USA sister city, quaint Helen GA, here’s the best opportunity, located just 3 more miles south of Unicoi State Park. But if Helen isn’t part of your plans for this scenic trip, then backtrack up 75/17 for only two miles where you’ll arrive at the entrance of one of the State’s most beautiful wooded parks, Smithgall Woods/Dukes Creek Falls State Park. Covering over 5,600 acres, this Park focuses on conservation. It’s also an angler’s paradise with some of the very best trout fishing in the State on the waters of Dukes Creek. Visit their event calendar to see what is scheduled during your visit.
There’s one more leg to this journey, and it is perhaps the most spectacular. Just a hair north of Smithgall Woods you will come upon the gateway (Hwy 348) to Richard Russell Scenic Hwy. These next 23 miles are not only a favorite for motorists, bicyclists and motorcyclists, but wildlife also love to roam all over the cliffs and valleys along this route. Do drive with patience and caution.
Helton Creek Falls
After nearly a 10 mile ascent, you’ll reach Hogpen Gap, (elevation 3,525′). This is a very popular, year-round hiking trail. But for just leaf lookers, the vistas at the appointed observation areas at this elevation are breathtaking! And in the spring there is no better place to view the “greening of the mountains”. As you begin the steep descent traveling north on Richard Russell, the valley brings more surprises as the fields open up and the farmlands, an integral facet of life in historical Choestoe Valley, are dotted across the highway. Look for a turn heading west at Hatchett Creek Rd. Follow this road till it merges with Helton Creek Road and visit one of the area’s favorite family waterfalls, Helton Creek Falls. The short hike (.24 miles) from the parking area leads to two falls. The lower falls has a wading pool area. The upper falls has an observation deck with bench seating.
Seasons of Fun!
Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway is a 4 season wonderland. In the spring the hiking trails boast 1500 varieties of wildflowers with over 200 plants indigenous to just this Southern Appalachian region.
Stop, look and listen and you’ll see fawn and bear cubs emerging from the woods, beavers building dams to reroute the heavy spring rainwater, and you’ll hear the songbirds who’ve migrated back to these mountains from their winter retreats.
Open the windows on your summer drive and capture the fragrances of the season as you pass cavernous areas of native azalea, rhododendron and mountain laurel. The farmers cut hay around Memorial Day and again at Labor Day. The smell of fresh-cut hay, watching the baling process or just coming upon a field of hay bales peppering the countryside all leave an indelible imprint on one’s senses.
visits to the waterfalls along this road will often find the thunderous waters
framed by a rainbow. And as the days become shorter and autumn ushers in, the
forest canopy bursts with vibrant colors as the sweetgum, red maples, and oak
trees display their final fashion before shedding their foliage. In winter the
starkness of the bare forest, covered in frost is an incredible photo
opportunity. The cliffs near Hogpen Gap are covered with ice and a favorite
spot for ice climbers to hone their skills.
Plan on this driving adventure the next time you visit us. It promises to impress you, whatever the season. Share your adventures with us by tagging #escapetobr on your social posts. Enjoy!
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!
There is nothing like sweet summertime in the mountains! Lounging on the lake by day and sitting around the fire pit in the evening. Hiking up to waterfalls or splashing down a river. Exploring downtown or exploring nature. However you vacation, you’ll be happy to Escape to Blue Ridge for your summer getaway!
Local produce, handmade arts and crafts, baked goods and more! What better way to usher in June, the summer and the growing season! Every Saturday throughout the summer, vendors will set up in front of the Courthouse from 8am until “Noon-ish”.
Artisans, beekeepers, bakers, potters, painters, and more gather every Saturday morning starting at 7am to display and sell their wares. Home grown and handmade is their promise, which comes with freshness, quality, flavor and variety!
The perfect combination – yoga, followed by wine tasting at a vineyard with a view. Ashlee Lofton leads the yoga class, beginning at 10:45 and then there’s a moment of reflection before moving on to Bear Claw’s Grizzly Tasting. OMMM & AHHH. Nothing better!
Help raise funds and awareness for lung cancer at LUNGevity. The concert starts at 6pm with music by Kharisma Jazzmatic Funk, a 10-piece jazz/funk band covering a variety of genres, including Motown, smooth jazz, classic rock and country. Admission is $20.
One of downtown Blue Ridge’s finest restaurants and night spots! With an operating brewery at its core, for optimal fresh beer, this place has a fun-with-your-friends vibe and a reputation for bringing great music to the stage!
June 1 – The Highbeams June 7 – Shannon York and Rob Harper June 15 – Gopher Broke
The Blue Coyote is known for their live music and entertainment. While you’re there you can enjoy their tasty bar food and a whole bunch of beer! They even have a dog-friendly patio! Stop by, check it out, and enjoy the music!
June 1 – Bottoms Up Band June 7 – Topper June 8 – Southern Vantage June 14 – Steven Phillips & The Midnight Express June 15 – The Bone Daddy’s June 22 – Breaking Point June 28 – Azus! June 29 – BEATS Workin’
Looking for a serene setting on the hillsides near Ellijay with twisty grapevines, a fireplace with outdoor seating (including a statuesque still-standing chimney, which is the winery’s icon), and live music on weekends? Come out to Cartecay Vineyards!
June 1 – Dom Weir June 2 – Tommy Joe Conner June 8 – Man Bites Dog June 9 – Robert Ferguson June 15 – Timothy O’Donovan June 16 – Buck & Oz June 22 – Rose Brown June 23 – Surrender Hill June 29 – Travis Bowlin June 30 – Scott Stambaugh
If you like songs by famous country stars like Patsy Cline, Ray Price, Merle Haggard, Tammy Wynette and George Jones, you’re going to love Gail Bliss and the Nashville Barn Dance! Gail has actually played Patsy Cline in a hit musical that spans Patsy’s career. If you enjoy fiddle and steel guitar, don’t miss this concert!
The definition of “senior” these days is 55 or older, so if you fit that description, this event is free! All you have to do is bring fishing gear and bait and you can fish for beautiful rainbow trout in Rock Creek. The event starts at 9am and continues to noon.
The art of weaving a market basket is not only truly art, and an admirable avocation, it is also pretty darn practical, if you’re planning a trip to a farmers market anytime soon. Plus you learn about historical uses, designs and materials that were used years ago in Appalachian culture.
An American play, accompanied by the Bergonzi String Quarter is a wonderful mix of theater and concert to tell the story of a modern couple living in Appalachia, tracing their families’ story through letters saved from the 1800’s.
Great beer (18 beers on tap), a fun atmosphere and a stellar philosophy (delicious beer, dog-friendly, people tolerated). Plenty of craft beers, including those brewed in the brewery, and lots of live music! It’s one of those places that locals like!
June 7 – Gerry Herndon June 14 – Lindsay Beth Harper June 21 – Highbeams June 28 – Gregg Erwin
You can’t get a better venue or greater acoustics than right on the lake. With delicious food and jamming tunes, you’ll love the atmosphere and entertainment at the Boat Dock Bar & Grill at the Lake Blue Ridge Marina!
June 8 – Gopher Broke June 21 – Buck & Oz June 22 – David Welch Unplugged June 23 – Gopher Broke
There’s nothing quite like the sound of bagpipes on a lovely summer day – and you’ll hear and see that and more at the Blairsville Scottish Festival. Enjoy pipe and drum bands, a parade of tartans, border collie demonstrations, amateur athletics, children’s games, and more as Blairsville celebrates its Scottish heritage!
First of all, it’s not a rodeo – so don’t expect horses and cowboys. It’s another kind of rodeo, where kids gather up and fish for fun at a hatchery with a lot of fish. You see what you’re about to catch, and then you catch ‘em. It’s fun and enormously rewarding when you see the look on a child’s face as he or she catches their first fish!
The great thing about looking at the sun in an observatory is you don’t have to stay up late at night, like you do when you’re trying to catch a glimpse of a planet or two through a telescope. Looking directly into the sun is highly not advised, but the Brasstown Bald astronomy people have tools for that. They just recommend you wear a fair amount of sunscreen, since elevation equals an increase in the sun’s rays intensity and Brasstown is Georgia’s highest point at 4,784 feet. You’ll learn a lot, and it’s free, just the cost of admission to the park. This event aligns with Junior Explorers Day also on June 8.
Come out for the first in a series of live concerts at a great outdoor venue on the shores of Lake Blue Ridge. You have access options – come by boat and anchor in Morganton Cove, or carpool and park on Lakeshore Drive. The lineup of artists include Buck & Oz, Kurt Thomas Band, and it all starts with Jacob Davis Martin at 5pm.
A real rodeo straight out of the Wild West – with plenty of action, rumbles and tumbles and opportunities to see bronc riding, roping and barrel racing. Always held on the third weekend of June, this rodeo has become one of the most popular in North Georgia.
It’s hard to beat hot jazz, good wine and stunning mountain views, but add in the setting: in the middle of Georgia’s largest orchard, and you have a wonderful recipe for a great day! Bring a blanket or lawn chairs and get ready for the Rhythm Jets, Cadillac Jones and Kharisma Jazzmatic Funk to perform. And wine – did we mention wine?
Yes, there’s the Wild West. But this event asks that we don’t forget there’s also a Wild East and a lot of it is along a narrow, 2,000-mile strip of hiking trail known as the Appalachian Trail. Each year thousands hike sections of the trail and some try to thru-hike it. It’s sometimes hard to imagine the challenges, hardships and rewards of that journey, but this Day in the Life attempts to capture a slice of that.
New Homes Added to Our Program
You have a lot of choices when deciding where and how to spend your vacation, and it can be overwhelming. But if you want magnificent architecture, and first class amenities in a secluded setting less than five miles from downtown Blue Ridge, look no further than Hilltop Hideaway. Truly spectacular inside and out, this Blue Ridge cabin rental is the perfect relaxing retreat to enjoy with family and friends. Located on a mountain with wraparound decks to showcase the view from every angle, the cabin is the epitome of rustic elegance, with plenty of country charm and a relaxed, welcoming ambiance.
Aptly named for its perfectly situated location above the Blue Ridge Mountains and Lake Blue Ridge, the North Georgia cabin rental Above the Blue is all about its million-dollar view. Breathtaking, magnificent, and stunning are words you might use to describe its spectacular sunrise-to-sunset picture postcard vistas, if you’re not rendered completely speechless by nature’s beauty. This private, wooded oasis is convenient to popular attractions like Falls Creek Falls, the Swinging Bridge on the Toccoa River, and of course Lake Blue Ridge, and the shops and restaurants of Blue Ridge are just five miles away. Constructed of the finest pine and furnished in modern rustic style, the tri-level cabin is warm and inviting, the perfect place to relax, unwind and enjoy a carefree experience with friends and family.
What qualities do you crave most in a mountain vacation? Is it the peace, quiet and serenity your daily life lacks, the magnificent beauty of unspoiled nature, or experiencing all the fun and adventure the Georgia Mountains have to offer? At the Blue Ridge cabin rental BUCKingham Palace, you can have all of the above, and so much more. Located on more than an acre in the heart of the Aska Adventure Area just 10 miles from downtown Blue Ridge, this serene woodland oasis replaces asphalt with lush forest greenery and traffic noise with the sound of a nearby waterfall. Here, you’ll have privacy, tranquility, and a sense of calm that allows you to leave the world behind.
In Case You Missed It
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. Keep Reading.
Farmers in the state of Georgia produce more than 26 million pounds of apples annually with nearly all the orchards concentrated in the North Georgia Mountains. Distinguishing oneself from the other apple orchards might be a large task for some. But Adele Mercier was never easily daunted by the business challenges of competition presented to her and her husband Bill and their 27-acre family orchard they started together in 1943. She had big plans for this little orchard in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Little did she know that it would take her to the dawn of the next century to execute her plan.
In 1999, Adele presented her vision for the Mercier Orchards to the regional tourism association. She shared with them her dream that Mercier’s was going to become an international tourist attraction, right along with her friends from the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway who had just started running scenic excursions to McCaysville and back. That afternoon, the tourism professionals chuckled at the naiveté of this eighty-year-old with such outlandish pipe dreams. Over the past two decades since, many of those in attendance that day have eaten their fair share of humble pie (or maybe apple fried pies?).
Mercier Orchards has grown ten times its original size, with 300 acres of apples, peaches, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries. The farm market that once boasted just bins of apples from July till December is now open seven days a week from 7 am till 6 pm, 361 days a year. The Market Store has enlarged to several thousand square feet with outstanding food products, fresh, frozen and canned, with the majority locally sourced. If you are planning on preparing meals during your cabin stay with us, you must visit Merciers. Don’t bother with a shopping list. Every item will take you on a new culinary journey.
The Market has also grown to include a bakery boasting several varieties of fried pies, as well as apple cider donuts, and a large variety of bread, cookies and many other delectable baked goods. The bakery also supplies the recently enlarged Market Café (open 7am-6pm daily) with award-winning biscuits, bread and rolls served at breakfast each day till 11 am. Breakfast buffet on Saturdays and Sundays is a great place to gather with family and friends, with buffet hours extended to noon. After a morning in the orchards, picking your own fruit, lunch at the Market is the best place to hydrate, chill and nourish.
Yes, part of Adele’s dream was to bring multi-generational families in to enjoy the seasonal harvests of the orchards. Adults of all ages will enjoy the memories of their childhood days while picking apples, and the children will enjoy every moment, from the wagon ride out to the u-pick them area to delighting as they fill their buckets with berries, peaches or over 30 varieties of apples. U-Pick is subject to availability and the weather. For current picking dates, click here.
Maybe choosing your fruit at the Market is more to your liking than picking your own in the field. That doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the Orchard experience. From 10 am till 4 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, indulge yourself with a $5 tractor ride and tour of the 300-acre orchard. The Mercier family loves to share all there is to see and know about their orchard with their guests.
The fruits of the orchard are best enjoyed fresh, but for some, pressed and fermented fruit has as much allure. Mercier’s knows this first hand and would like to invite you to their Tasting Room at the Market. A variety of delicious hard ciders and wines, made with all “Georgia Grown” fruits can be sampled and purchased. “We are currently the only apple orchard in Georgia that can say they grow, press, ferment, and bottle their own product.” avowals their website.
As for Adele’s vision? Late last November, this writer visited the orchard with a friend to purchase a couple of bags of apples. It was late on a Sunday afternoon, three weeks past the high volume tourist season and we expected to be able to run in and out with our fruit purchase. We found the enormous parking lot to be nearly full. Walking into the Market, we discovered every cash register manned and customers were five plus deep waiting in those lines. My friend and I counted six different languages being spoken around us while we patiently waited our turn to pay for our purchases.
Adele Mercier passed away in 2013, leaving her internationally known Market in the very capable hands of second, third and fourth generations of the Mercier Family. They strive to bring to every visitor an experience that they will soon not forget. To learn more about Mercier Orchards and to see their event calendar, visit them at www.mercier-orchards.com.
What Mom really wants for Mother’s Day might surprise you.
It rarely has to do with those lovely wrapped little boxes from the jewelry
store. And it has less to do with gift certificates to get body maintenance
done, like massages and manicures.
It was 50 years ago that this iconic ad first ran. “Calgon,
take me away”. It still epitomizes what
every Mom wants and needs – time away from the daily grind, if even for just
time for a private, quiet bath. So, this Mother’s Day we think we can help you
with giving Mom that Calgon moment she’ll remember for many years to come.
Mom with Little Ones
Mom is rising close to noon and not hearing a peep. As she
clears the cobwebs from her sleep, she realizes that she woke in the cabin they
came to last night. Oh, the bed felt so luxurious, and somehow, she was the
only one in it. Next to the bed is a note from hubby. “The kids and I are gone
for the day. White
wine in the fridge with brie, apple, and crackers. The hot tub is
waiting for you. Don’t forget your book at the bottom of the suitcase. We’ll see you at 6. Bringing dinner with us.
Relax and enjoy the solitude. You
deserve this. You’re the best Mom in the world. We love you.” She looks out over the magnificent view of
the mountains from her bedroom window. This is the best gift I could ever
imagine, she thought. Six hours later the gang rolls in, running into her arms
to tell her all about their visit to Lilly Pad Village, where they gem mined and went
trout fishing. After a great boxed
dinner from Blue Ridge Mountain BBQ was consumed, they all
packed up to head to the Swan Drive-in Theater for a nostalgic experience
watching the 21st-century Avengers on the outdoor screen. (Did you
know that you can choose from 177 of our properties that have at least two bedrooms and a
Mom with Teen-agers
Mom marvels at how they are growing and maturing. She
realizes that in just a few short years they will be leaving the nest. She
wants to make these times away to the mountains something special for them all
to remember. They all agree that ziplining
had been on their bucket list. But first, while the day was still cool, they’d
challenge themselves to trek on the swinging bridge across the Toccoa River. After an afternoon of adventure, they pull up
to the Rum Cake
Lady’s outdoor dining. Mom loves Cuban food, and they sit at the
picnic tables all sharing their menu picks, joyful and tired. When they get
back to the cabin, the fire pit is lit, the oldest son brings out his guitar,
the youngest starts to make S’mores. Mom gazes at her family in the glow of the
fire and wonders how she got to be the luckiest Mom in the whole world.
(Thirty-eight of our rentals have either fire pits or outdoor fireplaces. Which one would your family choose?)
Mom with Grown
Every Mom feels the same way once their chicks have grown and flown the coop. They yearn for one on one time with them again. When her daughter texts her to ask if she’d like to spend the weekend with her in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Mom searches to find an emoji that can express her excitement. She ends up sending 10 happy faces, and the words, “yes, yes, YES!”. Saturday it’s a quick, trouble free keyless entry into their little lakefront cabin and off to the Himalayan Salt Caves for a 45-minute session of pure bliss, relaxing in zero gravity chairs, listening to soft music in a stress-free environment. After, they head into downtown Blue Ridge and make a stop at Blue Ridge Booksellers. As different as they can be in many respects, Mom and daughter share a love for vintage bookstores. With just enough time, they make their reservation at Harvest on Main for a relaxing evening of fine dining. Back to the cottage, another glass of wine to top off the evening and a wonderful heart to heart chat on the porch overlooking the moonlit lake. They sleep in late, pack up their things, close the door behind them and take a lovely drive out to Mercier’s Orchards for brunch and then to pick strawberries together, a memory they share from a Mother’s Day trip 20 years before. Now, they head home and banter back in forth as to whether it’s biscuits or pound cake that will host these sweet, juicy berries.
We think everyday should be Mother’s Day! Thank you to all the wonderful Moms who celebrate their families with us throughout the year. We hope your Mother’s Day is a Calgon day for you!
If you’re looking for a scenic
trail with beautiful falls at the end, and to check off a couple high profile hiking
trails while you’re at it, Long
Creek Falls in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Blue Ridge, Georgia
should make it to the top of your list.
An easy to moderate difficulty
rating, Long Creek Falls is a two-mile round trip “out-and-back trail” that
sits directly on the Appalachian
Trail (AT), with access to both the Benton
McKaye Trail and the Duncan Ridge Trail. Uniquely, the Appalachian Trail
and Benton McKaye Trail run together as one route during this particular
section of the footpath.
With full falls, even in the
middle of summer, Long Creek Falls is one of the first attractions along the
Appalachian Trail and one of the prettiest you’ll find not only in Fannin
County, but also throughout all of the North Georgia Mountains! Exposed rock
frames the cascading water, allowing for optimum sitting spots along the bank
of the falls and the creek that it feeds. Before tumbling over one large rock
face, Long Creek runs over smaller rocks, making the final drop into a shallow
pool at the base of the falls even that much more impressive. Since the falls
are only a short walk off of the AT, it’s a hot spot for thru-hikers who want a
quiet place to rest their feet, take a nap alongside the river, or simply sit
and take in the beauty of the falls.
Family & Pet Friendly
Over the years, Long Creek Falls
has also become a destination for day hikers, particularly families and those
with dogs who want a decent trail to visit on the weekends. In fact, it’s grown
so much in popularity that the parking lot at Three Forks (the area you’ll
drive to the start of the trail) is always packed, sprawling out down the dirt
service road, especially on the weekends. So, if you’re wanting a less crowded
view of the falls, going on the weekdays would give you more privacy to enjoy
the trail and the falls once you get there.
For those with kids or grandkids,
the falls are a huge hit since the shallow pool serves as the best spot to take
a refreshing dip in the cool water, especially on those particularly sticky,
southern summer days!
Take It Up a Notch
If you’re feeling especially
ambitious after hiking Long Creek Falls, you can extend your hike another 8.6
miles and head toward Springer Mountain, the southern terminus for the Appalachian
Trail. Though more difficult than Long Creek, the “out-and-back” from the
trailhead at Long Creek to the peak of Springer Mountain offers one of the most
diverse terrains on all of the Georgia section of the AT. Just follow the 2 x
6-inch white blaze north!
Are We There Yet?
You can hear that soft rustle of
water from the start of the trail all the way through.
As far as getting to the trailhead
goes, it isn’t a hard one to find. In fact, you can even plug the location into
your GPS and it’ll take you right to the parking lot. From Blue Ridge, you’ll
take Old Highway 76 and hop on Aska Road until it dead-ends into Newport Road.
Take Newport Road until it ends and turn left onto Doublehead Gap Road.
Doublehead Gap will turn into a dirt road, which you’ll follow until the
three-way split. On the split, follow Forest Service Road 58 until you reach
Three Forks, which is just over five miles.
Once you’ve made it, park your car, follow the trail across the road from the footbridge, and take in all the wonder and beauty of Long Creek Falls!