Trail Trees and Fairy Crosses



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.

Photo Courtesy of Donna O’Neal

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.

Fairy Crosses

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.

Pezrok

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.

Photo Courtesy of Jim Korzep

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.

Spa-cial Mountain Treatment



When you visit a new area, don’t you wonder where the “locals” choose to eat, shop and play? After all, they have the benefit of experience and “word of mouth” before they spend their hard earned dollars. If you are vacationing with us here in the North Georgia Mountains, and you want to know where the “locals” go to be pampered, we’ve already scoped it out for you. Today we shine the spotlight on Serenity in the Mountains.

Himalayan Salt Cave

If after a few days here you need a great change of pace to all the outdoor activities you’ve indulged, then may we suggest a session in Serenity’s Himalayan Salt Cave. During your 45 minute session, you can relax in one of the zero-gravity chairs, lay back and take a nap, or sit and enjoy the soft music and stress-free environment while benefiting from the Cave’s healing salt atmosphere. Serenity’s Cave was built by hand with pure Himalayan salt boulders, rocks, bricks and sand.

Spa Services

If you are looking for a new hair style, a total manicure and pedicure, body scrub 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.

Hey Fellas

Gentlemen, pay attention. Spas are not just for women. We know that you have bought countless numbers of pampering gift certificates for your Mom, wife and daughters over the years. And when you walk in to purchase it and you feel like a fish out of water, swiping your credit card on high speed just to get out of the girlie palace. Trust us. You won’t feel that way at Serenity in the Mountains’ Gentleman Spa. Serenity offers a gentlemen’s locker room with steam and sauna as well as a relaxation area.  While almost all of the spa treatments are personalized, they are tailored for their male clientele, including facials, manicures, hair styles and hair colors.

Ladies, maybe it’s time to treat your man to an awesome experience he won’t soon forget. Serenity has a treehouse massage room. Yes, built very high in the clouds, this childhood fantasy style treehouse is equipped with the finest equipment and therapists.

Massage

One of the most popular services vacationers take advantage of at Serenity in the Mountains is the Couples Massage. With cozy, heated tables, in beautifully appointed private rooms, two therapists will give you the massage style you each prefer. Then afterwards, you both can relax alone in front of the fireplace, making this a total romantic experience.

If you are looking for a fun indulgence for your bridal party or best friend weekend, then look no further. Serenity’s staff wants to help you create the perfect memory. They will help you craft the ideal signature spa experience. And be sure to let them know that you want ample time to enjoy the sauna and steam rooms.

5 Stars

The reviews are all five star, with lots of mentions of “warm cozy atmosphere”, “friendly professional staff”, and “reasonable prices” as the most commented remarks. Many note that just arriving in the rustic relaxation lounge with its comfortable chaises and leather sofas is a charming experience, and we can whole-heartedly vouch for that!

Serenity in the Mountains makes it easy to book an appointment online or you can call them at 706-258-2244. We recommend that you book early. This is one very popular pampering destination! Their services are offered Monday and Tuesday from 9am-5pm and Wednesday – Saturday from 9am to 7pm. They are closed on Sundays, but if you are here during the week, be sure to ask about the mid-week specials.

We humans are very much like diamonds. We are created through the pressures of our lives, and very much like these precious stones, we can be massaged, buffed and polished to our full beauty. You came to the mountains to relax and renew. Let Serenity in the Mountains pamper you to a new brilliance. Don’t be surprised when this spa experience becomes one of your fondest vacation memories!

8 Cabins with Incredible Lake & Mountain Views



When you plan an escape to Blue Ridge there is nothing better than spending time with friends and family while taking in the sights and sounds of natures’ majestic beauty. When you add in stunning mountain and lake views to your cabin selection, you’ve just taken your vacation to a whole new level! These eight amazing cabins with picture perfect postcard views are all located in the desirable Aska Adventure Area.

Close to town yet miles away, you’ll want to get out and explore all the activities the Blue Ridge and Aska Adventure Area have to offer. Take the natural path and enjoy hiking, paddle boarding, tubing, fishing and geocaching or head just six miles into downtown Blue Ridge for shopping, restaurants, and winery and brewery tours. The wonder, excitement, and beauty of the North Georgia Mountains are waiting for your adventure to begin. So, what are you waiting for?

Above the Blue

Above the Blue is all about its million-dollar view! This private, 3-bedroom wooded oasis is convenient to popular attractions like Falls Creek Falls, the Swinging Bridge on the Toccoa River, and of course Lake Blue Ridge. 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.

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. It’s pet-friendly, so feel free to bring your dog with you to relax, celebrate, and enjoy the mountain vacation of your dreams!


Adventure Us

If your idea of the perfect vacation getaway is a private mountain oasis where you can gather with loved ones in a magnificent natural setting, the North Georgia cabin rental Adventure Us has exactly what you’re looking for and so much more!

Set on a hillside on more than two acres with breathtaking unobstructed long-range views of the mountains and Lake Blue Ridge, the unique three-bedroom property has its very own waterfall and lots of areas to explore. You can take your pet for a walk (yes, your dogs are welcome!) along the fenced-in property for a small taste of the wondrous nature that surrounds you.

Bearway to Heaven

Perched on a forested hillside with an absolutely breathtaking view of the lush green mountains in the distance and Lake Blue Ridge shimmering below, this magnificent log home is surrounded by the glory of nature, and close to all the outdoor activities that the Aska Adventure Area has to offer.

Bearway to Heaven is a tastefully decorated five-bedroom retreat with comfortable furniture that invites you to kick back, relax, and relish in the blissful way you’ll feel when you’re there. With a stellar location, wonderful ambience, and a picture postcard view, you’ll never want to go back home!

Blue Chase Lodge

There are many Blue Ridge mountain cabin rentals, some with a view of the water, others with a mountain view. But if you stay at Blue Chase Lodge, you don’t have to choose. This handsome home overlooking Lake Blue Ridge offers you both water and mountain vistas, and they’re spectacular! This lovely property in the heart of the Aska Adventure is a hiker’s dream and paradise for fishers and boaters, and perfect for anyone who wants to relax with friends and family in an amazing setting.

Whether you’re enjoying coffee at sunrise or a glass of wine at sunset, the view from the cabin’s three decks is absolute perfection! The open floor plan and two large screened decks provide ample space to gather and relax, and the three bedrooms, each with rustic log furniture, sumptuous bedding, private bath, fabulous view, and 32” TV, provide a hotel-like experience. With the beauty of the lake and mountains surrounding you, a stay at Blue Chase Lodge offers a unique opportunity to get away from it all and experience a carefree, blissful vacation with the ones you love.

Heavens Whisper

Heavens Whisper is a peaceful 3-bedroom oasis in the popular Aska Adventure Area of Blue Ridge. Tucked into a hill, its serene setting is a haven from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. A group of friends or couples looking for a relaxing mountain getaway will think they’ve found heaven on earth here.

Wake up to spectacular mountain and lake long range layered views set against picture perfect skies outside your window. You’ll feel close to heaven and nature at this quiet, secluded retreat… and if you listen closely, you’ll hear the Heavens Whisper, calling you back here time and again!

Lake Vista Lodge

Situated on Green Mountain just south of Blue Ridge, Lake Vista Lodge is a relaxing getaway where you can escape from the everyday world, enjoy the company of your family and friends, and marvel at the peaceful, 50-mile views of Lake Blue Ridge and mountains as far as the eye can see!

Featuring a wildlife and nature theme, Lake Vista Lodge’s rooms are rustic yet modern with hardwood floors and tongue and groove walls and ceiling throughout, making this four-bedroom cabin a warm and welcoming place. If you’re seeking a bit of rest and relaxation, there is nothing better than simply swinging or rocking on the porch and soaking up the beautiful vista of Lake Blue Ridge, the mountains surrounding it, and on clear days, the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina beyond!

Lakeview at Boulder Rock

Some say that Lakeview at Boulder Rock has the best view in the Blue Ridge area, and it’s easy to see why. Perched high on a hillside above a glistening Lake Blue Ridge with long-range mountain vistas stretching 50 miles into Tennessee and North Carolina, its magnificent show-stopping panorama will take your breath away.

Named for the big rocks surrounding it as well as its location, this exceptional property is in Necowa Cove adjacent to the National Forest, convenient to everything you want to see and experience. It’s just a mile to the Aska hiking trails, three miles to tubing and fishing on the Toccoa River, and five miles to both the boat marina and the shops and restaurants of downtown Blue Ridge.

Perfectly situated and custom designed to showcase the stunning picture-postcard-perfect view with soaring ceilings and enormous windows throughout, this elegant three-bedroom mountain home is professionally decorated in soothing neutral tones that enhance the relaxing, peaceful ambiance. But it’s the incredible view that really sets it apart, and it can be the backdrop for vacation memories you’ll cherish long after you leave.

Mountain Vista

There are a lot of fabulous things about the North Georgia cabin rental Mountain Vista, but the first one you’ll notice is the view. True to its name, its panoramic long-range mountain vistas overlooking Lake Blue Ridge are like a picture-postcard come to life!

Inside, the cabin is bright, airy and roomy enough for a big family or group of friends, accommodating nine people in four spacious, comfortable bedrooms. Imagine stepping out on the deck in the morning with a cup of coffee and enjoying a Technicolor sunrise or taking in the night air under the twinkling stars… simply breathtaking!

Hot Events, Cool Mountains



The days are heating up and so are the events in the North Georgia Mountains! Splash into Lake Blue Ridge on a hot July day and as the sun sets over the mountains and the temperature starts to cool off for the evening, enjoy some family time around the fire pit. There are so many fun and festive events happening in and around our little mountain community this month. Take a look and plan your Escape to Blue Ridge to experience all the mountains have to offer!

UPCOMING EVENTS & ACTIVITIES

Italian Wine & Food Tour: A Culinary Experience
July 2
LOCATION: Cucina Rustica

Photo Courtesy of Cucina Rustica

Enjoy a 5-course meal of authentic Italian dishes paired by the Chefs of Cucina Rustica with regional Italian wines! Reservations are required and space is limited.

Blue Ridge Freedom 5K and 10K
July 4
LOCATION: Downtown Blue Ridge

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Freedom 5K and 10K

If you want to start the morning off healthy, you could run in the Blue Ridge Freedom 5k or 10k, featuring a scenic route through beautiful and historic Blue Ridge!Show your American Pride by coming dressed in your finest red, white and blue running gear. Even more fun after the race with music, watermelon, sweet tea, and lemonade.

Old Timers 4th of July Parade
July 4
LOCATION: Downtown Blue Ridge

Photo Courtesy of Fetch Your News

Don’t miss the Old Timers 4th of July Parade! Anyplace downtown is a good viewing spot to enjoy the colorful floats, antique vehicles, and marchers dressed in patriotic attire!

Independence Day Fireworks
July 4
LOCATION: Meeks Park, Blairsville

In Blairsville, Independence Day Fireworks is on July 4th – at Meeks Park, beginning at around 9:30 pm. A day-long festival takes place just south of Blairsville at Vogel State Park, with a bicycle parade, pedal boat races, a watermelon eating contest, sack races and a number of other traditional activities for kids and families. Then head to town to watch the big fireworks show!

Music & Trivia
July 4 – 27
LOCATION: Misty Mountain Hops

Photo Courtesy of Misty Mountain Hops

If you love eating and music then you will love the laid back vibes of Misty Mountain Hops. Good food and sweet tunes make this Vinyl Pub a must!

July 4 – Trivia with Lauren
July 6 – Jeb Rogers
July 13 – Justin Bridges
July 20 – Gopher Broke
July 27 – Jeb Rogers

McCaysville Fireworks
July 5
LOCATION: Downtown McCaysville and Copperhill

The skies over the twin cities of McCaysville, Ga and Copperhill, TN will be lit up on Friday night. Anywhere downtown is a great viewing area! Don’t want to drive? You can board the Firecracker Express in Downtown Blue Ridge and arrive by train. There will be a street festival, vendors with food etc. Live music. First Baptist Church of McCaysville has a fair that is open to the public, festivities start around 6 pm.

Boat Dock Bar & Grill
July 5 – 28
LOCATION: Lake Blue Ridge Marina

Photo Courtesy of Lake Blue Ridge Marina

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!

July 5 – Travis Bowlin
July 7 – Shannon York
July 12 – Danny Rhea
July 13 – Johnathan Batten
July 14 – Lindsay Beth Harper
July 19 – Buck & Oz
July 20 – Trevor Patillo
July 21 – Gopher Broke Band
July 26 – Danny Rhea
July 27 – Buck & Oz
July 28 — Shannon York

Meet & Greet and Special Presentation
July 5 – 6
LOCATION: Expedition Bigfoot!

Photo Courtesy of Idaho State University

The Indiana Jones of Sasquatch, Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum, is coming to Blue Ridge to talk about that mysterious of all near-humans – Bigfoot, or Skunk Ape, or Yeti, or Sasquatch. Dr. Meldrum will discuss his experiences and near-misses he’s had over the 30 years he has tracked Bigfoot.

Live Music at The Blue Coyote
July 5 – 26
LOCATION: The Blue Coyote

Photo Courtesy of The Blue Coyote

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!

July 5 – Southern Vantage
July 6 – The Bone Daddys
July 12 – Natti Lovejoys
July 13 – Topper/Voices of Rock
July 19 – Mind the Stepchildren
July 26 – Donny Hammonds Band

Cartecay Vineyards Live Music
July 5 – 28
LOCATION: Cartecay Vineyards

Photo Courtesy of Cartecay Vineyards

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!

July 5 – Adrian Stover
July 6 – Gregg Erwin
July 7 – Craig Hendricks
July 13 – Timothy O’Donovan
July 14 – Rick Byers
July – 20 – Tommy Joe Conner
July 21 – Johnny Summers
July 27 – April Rooks
July 28 – Surrender Hill

Lake Blue Ridge Fireworks
July 6
LOCATION: Lake Blue Ridge Dam

Photo Courtesy of Teresa Foster Bidez

Fireworks are set off on the Lake Blue Ridge Dam and are viewable by boat, at various viewing locations along the shoreline, and from a large area adjacent to the Lake Blue Ridge Marina.

Namaste and Cabernet
July 6
LOCATION: Bear Claw Vineyards

Photo Courtesy of Yoga Over Blue Ridge

The perfect combination – yoga, followed by wine tasting at a vineyard with a view. Ashlee Lofton leads the yoga class, beginning at 10:45am and then there’s a moment of reflection before moving on to Bear Claw’s Grizzly Tasting. OMMM & AHHH. Nothing better!

Earth & Cosmic Creations
July 9 – 12
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association

Working with clay, painting and a wide range of exciting art classes make up this creative summer camp for kids. This camp is for emerging artists – which is what kids are, after all. And the focus is on allowing them to explore their own exceptional creative side.

A Funny Little Thing Called Love
July 11 – 28
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Community Theater

When you read a play summary that includes locations like a rooftop London bistro and a 12th floor window ledge, and descriptions of main characters like a car-selling Romeo from Dallas and ancient waitress who wields a wicked sousaphone, you know this is going to be a wild and wacky romp of a performance and you’d better be prepared to laugh. At the heart of all the craziness is love – and that alone should make it all worthwhile.

Appalachian Cooking Redux
July 12
LOCATION: The Folk Apothic

Photo Courtesy of The Folk Apothic

The great thing about a cooking class is you usually get to eat what you cook and this cooking class, which celebrates Appalachian roots is no different. Stories and local wisdom are shared in this hands-on workshop featuring Real Appalachian food brought to you by real Appalachian Grandmas!

Tap Into Your Forest
July 13
LOCATION: Brasstown Bald

Photo Courtesy of Brasstown Bald

Not quite a seminar and not quite a field trip, but the best of both. This program at Georgia’s tallest point is intended to help you understand the importance of a forest watershed. Water conservation techniques and this region’s ecologically turbulent history over the past 100 years are discussed – and you get a bird’s eye view of creeks, rivers and streams and an explanation of how they have evolved to form the Hiawassee Watershed. Extra special bonus – a glass of refreshing mountain lemonade at the end!

2019 Kids Farm to Fork Camp
July 15 – 19
LOCATION: The Cook’s Farm

Photo Courtesy of The Cook’s Farm

Where does food come from exactly? The grocery store, of course. Nope! Kids learn the value of agriculture production and how to take care of food products and animals during this highly popular summer camp. Tours and hands-on opportunities at three off-farm locations add variety to the experience.

Georgia Mountain Fair
July 19 – 29
LOCATION: Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds

Get ready for corn dogs and funnel cakes, but that’s not all. The Georgia Mountain Fair is a North Georgia icon, complete with living exhibits, arts and crafts, a pioneer village; a parade with antique cars, carnival rides and music that ranges from country to gospel including Pam Tillis, Ricky Skaggs, and more!

Harvey
July 26 – 28
LOCATION: Gilmer Arts Playhouse

There’s something about having a 6-foot rabbit at your side as a constant companion that tends to make a person feel safe and secure. That’s the way it is for Elwood P. Dowd, who is content in the knowledge that Harvey, the 6-foot rabbit, is always there for him. He’s also there for others, it’s just that they can’t see him. First made famous by Jimmy Stewart, this is a heartwarming story that’s fun for kids of all ages.

National Juried Photography Show
July 27 – August 25
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association

Open to all photographers, amateur and professional and all original photographic media, including film and digital images. This event showcases some of the best photographers in the nation, capturing the uniqueness of this region, and competing for cash prizes.

NEW HOMES ADDED TO OUR PROGRAM

Dock Holiday

When you think about your dream vacation, does a beautiful mountain setting, proximity to water, and plenty of space for your family and friends top the list? Then look no further than the North Georgia cabin rental Dock Holiday. This magnificent cabin is situated in a wooded lot on Lake Nottely, and true to its name, comes with a double-decker dock that’s tailor made for swimming, fishing, and sunning.

North Georgia Overlook

Perched on a hillside surrounded by tall trees with a breathtaking long-range vista of mountains and farmland as far as the eye can see, North Georgia Overlook makes a fantastic first impression. But take a closer look at this Blue Ridge cabin rental and you’ll find even more to love. This magnificent tri-level home has wraparound decks, lofty vaulted ceilings and huge picture windows to maximize the stunning view from sunrise to sunset, whether you’re indoors or out. Its beautifully decorated and furnished interior is the epitome of rustic charm and comfort!

Wolf’s Den

When it comes to North Georgia Cabin rentals, you can’t find a better location than Wolf’s Den. Nestled in the woods with a breathtaking view of the mountains, this beautiful jewel box of a cabin takes you worlds away from “real life,” but it’s just five minutes from the shops and restaurants of downtown Blue Ridge and not much more to the area’s wonderful wineries, orchards and Lake Blue Ridge. Driving to the cabin is quick and easy, and when you arrive you’ll instantly feel calm, peaceful and relaxed in this cozy home away from home!

Cloud Nine

At the Blue Ridge Mountain cabin rental Cloud Nine, great things come in twos: two beautiful, spacious family rooms, two comfortable master suites, and two levels of indoor and outdoor living space to accommodate a large family or group of friends. Newly constructed, elegantly furnished, and decorated in an eye-pleasing blend of contemporary and country style, this beautiful hilltop home is perfectly situated to maximize its most valuable asset: a spectacular, breathtaking, awe-inspiring view that stretches far into North Carolina and Tennessee!

Our Blue Heaven

What do you want most in a Blue Ridge cabin rental? If your wish list includes a beautiful wooded location that’s private but close to everything, plenty of space for your family or friends to gather and relax, and all the amenities you’d expect plus the comforts of an exclusive resort, look no further than Our Blue Heaven. Named for the old song of the same name, the cabin is ideally located on a magnificent wooded property just five miles from downtown Blue Ridge, surrounded by the wonders of nature and close to hiking trails, trout fishing, water sports and other activities. Inside, it’s built for comfort, with inviting, spacious rooms, all of them cozy and handsomely appointed with high-end furnishings in rustic mountain style.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

The 9 Best Lakeside Cabin Rentals

As the days grow longer and the temperatures begin to sore, it’s finally time for our favorite season of all – Sweet Summertime! Those sunshine filled days and star filled evenings are finally here and at Escape to Blue Ridge we want to help you create memories that are as happy and warm as the rays of sunshine piercing through the trees. Take some time out to relax on the patio with a cold glass of freshly squeezed lemonade while you take in the magnificent mountain and lake views of the North Georgia mountains. Once you get hot enough, splash into the lake and cool off or take a boat ride to explore all the coves of Lake Blue Ridge or Lake Nottely. As the sun begins to set, finish off your perfect day roasting s’mores around the fire or catch lighting bugs in a jar. Just because you’re grown up, doesn’t mean like you shouldn’t feel like a kid again while you’re on vacation! Slow down, savor summer, and soak up the Lake Life at one of these nine lakeside cabins! Keep Reading.

4th in the North



July will be here before you know it and we couldn’t be more excited! It’s time for lazy days at the lake, burgers and hot dogs on the back porch grill, and fireworks filling up the night sky! Here in North Georgia, we are proud Americans and we go all out to celebrate this great country that we love so much! Here’s a round-up of what to expect in Blue Ridge this Fourth of July.

First Things First

A celebration of America’s independence in these parts starts with pancakes. And why not?  There’s nothing better than a heaping stack, with some slathered syrup to remind of us of how lucky we are to live in the good ol’ US of A.

Plus, there are at least two pancake breakfasts on the morning of the 4th. The Habitat for Humanity,sponsored breakfast at the Faith Presbyterian Church is right on the Old Timers 4th of July Parade Route and, coincidence of coincidences, breakfast is finished when the parade begins at 10 am! Or you could visit the Epworth Community Club, where breakfast is followed by family activities throughout the rest of the day.

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Freedom 5K and 10K

If you want to start the morning off healthy, you could run in the Blue Ridge Freedom 5k or 10k which features a scenic route through beautiful and historic Blue Ridge. What a great way to start the holiday weekend!

Photo Courtesy of Fetch Your News

Whatever you do, don’t miss the Old Timers 4th of July Parade! Any place downtown is a good viewing spot to enjoy the colorful floats, antique vehicles and marchers dressed in patriotic attire!

Dare to Be Different

For something really unusual, you could spend some time on the 4th of July weekend hanging out with gentle alpaca at the 7th Annual Alpaca Farm Independence Day Celebration. Featured events include fiber arts demonstrations, snacks and fuzzy alpaca kisses!

Photo Courtesy of Lasso the Moon Alpaca Farm

Throughout the weekend, the Ellijay Farmers Market is open and gaining vibrancy every day.

Light Up The Sky

Fireworks for the 4th in Blue Ridge and surrounding areas are actually on the 5th and 6th, with one of the largest displays in Copper Basin/McCaysville on Friday night, July 5th.

A great way to view the fireworks is by train, on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway “Firecracker Special”.

A Fireworks and Family Picnic and fundraiser for Fannin County Family Connection is planned for July 6 at the Riverstone Medical Campus in Blue Ridge. Fireworks begin at dusk. h

Lake Blue Ridge Fireworks – “Fire in the Sky” – also the night of the 6th —  is being put on by the Lake Blue Ridge Civic Association. Fireworks are set off on the Lake Blue Ridge Dam and are viewable by boat, at various viewing locations along the shoreline, and from a large area adjacent to the Lake Blue Ridge Marina.

Photo Courtesy of Teresa Foster Bidez

Speaking of boats – the 4th Annual Lake Blue Ridge Boat Parade will be on Friday, July 5th at 9pm. The parade will follow the shoreline from Blue Ridge Recreation Area to Morganton Point Recreation Area ending at Lake Blue Ridge Marina. In Blairsville, the Independence Day Boat Parade on Lake Nottely takes place Saturday, July 6 starting at 12:00pm.  Anyone with a boat and the spirit to decorate is welcome to attend and be part of the fun!

Photo Courtesy of Norm Cooper

In Blairsville, Independence Day Fireworks is on July 4that Meeks Park, beginning at around 9:30 pm. A day-long festival takes place just south of Blairsville at Vogel State Park, with a bicycle parade, pedal boat races, a watermelon eating contest, sack races and a number of other traditional activities for kids and families!

Bonus

Aside from great celebrations, we also are fortunate to have some great restaurants to check out and fabulous little places to shop. However you spend your 4th of July celebration, we hope that it is spent with friends, family, and lots of good food!

Happy Birthday, America! We are so very grateful to live in the beautiful United States of America. It is an absolute honor to live in the land of the free and the home of the (very) brave! Thank you to all of our men and women that have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice to defend our great nation and allow us to enjoy the comfortable life we get to live.

Great Town, Great Events!



MARK YOUR CALENDAR, IT’S AN ANNUAL THING!

Some communities are fortunate to have county fairs in their backyards or a state fair within an hour’s drive or two – so when it comes to deep-fried anything outrageous (Krispy Kreme Burgers, deep-fried butter, python kabobs, etc), or a carnival ride or two, it’s available – at least once or twice a year.

Then there are communities known far and wide as festival towns. You don’t even have to ask if there’s anything going on, or fun things to do during the week and on the weekends – because there always is, and you’re not limited to crazy cuisine on a stick, octo-dogs, chocolate-covered bacon (yummo, by the way) or funnel cakes. Sometimes healthy food and fitness is the central theme, and you might actually lose weight rather than gain a pound or two.

Blue Ridge is one of those special towns where there’s always something going on – it’s a festival town, but also a destination for events – big ones and small ones – some tied to traditional holidays and some that have been created with care by locals who are passionate about books, music, the outdoors, or the arts.

A listing of festivals and events in Blue Ridge usually begins at the beginning – in January – but the beginning of the summer season starts with Memorial Day, when the pools are filled, the boat motor is tuned up and wineries and restaurants typically return to extended hours. So, let’s start with that.

Spring Arts in the Park – Memorial Day Weekend – May 25 & 26

Location: Downtown Blue Ridge City Park
Host: Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association

Arts in the Park is not just a spring kickoff to the festival season in Blue Ridge, another Arts in the Park brings things to a close in October. In both instances, artists and artisans, including musicians, fill the expansive Blue Ridge Downtown City Park with activities, performances and even some dancing. More than 200 juried art, craft and food booths are featured. This event is recognized as one of the Top 20 Events by the Southeastern Tourism Society. The Festival is held rain or shine. Pets are welcome as long as they are leashed and well-behaved. Weekend Admission: Adults $5 and children 12 and under are free!

Ride the Rails Festival – June 22 & 23

Location: Mineral Bluff Depot
Host: Tri-County Railroaders

Photo Courtesy of Shanna Beavers

You’ve seen ‘em, although you may not have known what you were seeing, railroad motor cars. They were used to monitor track conditions along stretches of railways. During a two-day Ride the Rails festival weekend, you’ll have a chance to actually ride in one in a five-mile round trip from the Mineral Bluff Depot, through the historic Iron Bridge and over the beautiful Toccoa River and back.  The trip begins (and ends) at the Mineral Bluff Depot, where there’s also a scale model railroad, built and maintained by the Tri-County Railroaders. Food and beverage will also be available. For railroad enthusiasts, and the intellectually curious, this is an event not to be missed!

Blue Ridge Mountains Wine & Jazz Festival – June 22

Location: Merciers Orchards
Host: Blue Ridge Mountains Wine and Jazz Festival

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Wine and Jazz Festival

Blue Ridge is becoming (if it isn’t already) a cultural tourism destination. That means wine, of course, and music. The wine will come from around the world, including those made locally in North Georgia and North Carolina and all you have to bring is a blanket or a few lawn chairs. Set wine, hard cider and some groove music against the gorgeous mountain backdrop of Merciers Orchards, and you have a classy and cultural event.

Independence Day – 4th of July Parade & Fireworks – Saturday Closest to July 4th

Locations: Downtown Blue Ridge, Lake Blue Ridge and McCaysville
More Information: Fannin County Chamber of Commerce

Photo Courtesy of Teresa Foster Bidez

It’s the ideal 4th of July weekend package: Independence day in a small patriotic town that also likes it’s fun and a beautiful lake to provide the perfect backdrop for fireworks. Blue Ridge’s Independence Day parade is a “blast” You will have a ball seeing floats that show creativity and a good sense of humor.  The Fabulous Fireworks will be shot off near the Lake Blue Ridge Dam and can be viewed from there as well as Morganton Point Recreation Area, Tammen Park and Lake Blue Ridge Marina. The marina will have live music and barbecue throughout the day. And if it’s an old-fashioned 4th that appeals to you, the small town Independence Day celebration in McCaysville is just the thing, featuring an impressive fireworks display from Tater Hill in downtown McCaysville-Copperhill. Here’s a thought – ride the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway to the fireworks for a totally unique Independence Day experience on July 5.  

Blue Ridge Kiwanis Rodeo – August 17 & 18

Location: Kiwanis Fairgrounds in Blue Ridge
Host: Blue Ridge Kiwanis

Photo Courtesy of Rick Young

The Wild Wild West has nothin’ on Blue Ridge. Every August, for the last 22 years, you would swear (but please don’t) that you have landed in Laramie, Wyoming or Tucson, Arizona, because Georgia’s red clay is being pulverized to dust by broncs and bulls. This is a classic western style rodeo, complete with bull riding, saddle bronc riding, calf roping, bareback, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing and special events. There’s great food and fun for all ages!

Plein Aire Festival – September 5-8

Location: Horse Creek Stable Rescue Sanctuary
Host: Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association

It sometimes takes a while to recognize and realize what’s happening in a town or out in the country, when you see artists standing stock still in front of easels and canvases, recreating a visual or a vista. When you approach the artist you can see what they see – beautiful mountains, or unique downtown scenes you may not have noticed (but they have – they’re artists, after all). If you peer over their shoulder you’ll see that these images are being captured in watercolors or charcoals or any number of arts mediums. It’s all part of an arts event that brings artists from across the region to Blue Ridge to capture the scenic beauty of this mountain community. Artists from across the southeast are encouraged to get outside and recreate nature’s beauty!

Blue Ridge Blues & BBQ Festival – September 14 & 15

Location: Downtown Blue Ridge
Host: The Blue Ridge Lodging Association

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Blues & BBQ Festival

One rule of thumb in the events realm is anything that starts with a crawl is going to be a good thing! So, the Blue Ridge Blues & BBQ Festival starts with a Blues Crawl on Friday night, followed by great blues and barbecue on Saturday. So, what is a Blues Crawl?  Well, it’s kind of a meander through eight different restaurants, enjoying live music, food and drink, kicking off the Blues Weekend in the mountains. Then on Saturday it’s on to the blues and barbecue portion of the festivities with barbecue smells from local and regional cookers filling the air downtown and blues musicians performing from stages set around Blue Ridge City Park.

Fall Foliage Train Rides – October to November

Location: Downtown Blue Ridge Historic Train Depot
Host: Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

And winter, and spring and summer… The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is an icon in downtown Blue Ridge, and all along the line to McCaysville and back. You can enjoy the brilliant colors of fall on a special train ride during October and early November or you can ride during the winter, spring or summer seasons as well! Learn about this region’s history along the way and you will have a deeper understanding about the beauty of this incredible part of the country!

Paws in the Park – 2nd Weekend of October

Location: Downtown Blue Ridge
Host: Humane Society of Blue Ridge

Photo courtesy of Humane Society of Blue Ridge

This is the perfect annual event for pet lovers! You can have a great time with your pets and get a few critical things done that need to be done before the end of fall, like a rabies vaccine at the rabies clinic and/or micro-chipping. Other pet friendly events include a pet parade, 5K race, pet education and demonstrations, a costume contest, prizes, photos and more for a fun day with your favorite pet!

Blue Ridge Fall Fest Arts & Crafts Show – 3rd and 4th Weekend in October

Location: Blue Ridge Farmers Market
Host: Fannin County Fire Explorers

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Farmers Market

Fall Fest features local arts, crafts, food and fun on two separate October weekends! This event has historically been called the Homemakers Fall Festival, but the event has stretched to include artisans as well as heritage crafts and food vendors. Come out to the Blue Ridge Farmers Market and experience the best in mountain creations.

Halloween Safe Zones – October 31

Location: Downtown Blue Ridge and McCaysville
Host: Blue Ridge Business Association

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Business Association

There’s nothing better than seeing the excitement that surrounds a group of kids all dressed up for Halloween and ready to head out to an early evening of trick-or-treating. The only thing better is knowing that where they’re going is safe. Kids of all ages get to trick or treat from shop to shop in downtown Blue Ridge and McCaysville. Pumpkin carving, costume contests, food, and entertainment are also part of the evening festivities!

Holiday Art Show & Sale, Light Up Blue Ridge & Hometown Christmas – Each November-December

Location: Downtown Blue Ridge, McCaysville, & Copperhill
More Information: Fannin County Chamber of Commerce

Photo Courtesy of Light Up Blue Ridge

Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association sponsors a regional arts and crafts event where you can shop for regional art and crafts at the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association from Thanksgiving through Christmas. Downtown Blue Ridge and Downtown McCaysville hold their Christmas festival on the day after Thanksgiving with music, refreshments, caroling and all-day activities. Official lighting of the Christmas tree in downtown Blue Ridge takes place at dusk and then Santa arrives! Santa’s arrival, food, refreshments and entertainment and the lighting of the bridge all are on the agenda that same night in McCaysville. 

AND SO BEGINS 2020 …

Fire and Ice Chili Cookoff – President’s Day Weekend

Location: Downtown Blue Ridge
Host: Blue Ridge Business Association

Photo Courtesy of Fire and Ice Chili Cook-Off

Is it really cold enough in Blue Ridge, Georgia in February to hold an ice carving competition? Yup.  It is – so bundle up. But you also have to be prepared for the heat – the heat of homemade chili that comes in all kinds of flavors and a range of hotness. The contrast of cool and hot also perfectly describes the weekend festivities that kick off the festival season. The event is cool – attracting thousands to City Park in downtown Blue Ridge and the ice sculptures are hot with a wide range of ideas and images that emerge from a block of ice. The event in 2020 will be the eighth annual, and it continues to grow every year!

Annual Blue Ridge Writers Conference – Early April

Location: Downtown Blue Ridge
Host: Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association Art Center

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Writers’ Conference

Writers write – that’s what they do. But writing is a solitary pursuit and sometimes writers just have to get together to compare notes and chat about what they do and how they do it. The annual Writers Conference is a literary tradition and unique cultural asset enjoyed by our many writers and aspiring writers each Spring as they gather in Blue Ridge to learn more about their special craft.

Blue Ridge Trout Fest & Outdoor Adventures  – Last Weekend in April

Location: Downtown Blue Ridge
Host: Blue Ridge Mountain Trout Unlimited #696 and the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Trout Festival

There are a lot of trout in Georgia. They are stocked, and caught, and eaten in large numbers. There are also several trout festivals designed to help anglers learn about and appreciate one of America’s favorite fish – the trout. But there is only one Official Trout Festival in the state of Georgia – and this is it. The festival includes great exhibits by outdoor organizations and businesses, education on trout fishing, entertainment, food trucks and more in downtown Blue Ridge’s City Park. 

Where To Stay?

Summit Escape

And as always, when you are looking to Escape to Blue Ridge, we have your best mountain accommodations. From cozy two bed cabins to massive six bedroom lodges. Not only can you enjoy festivals, but there is always live music in town, great shops to explore and fabulous restaurants to enjoy. When you’ve had enough “people” time, escape to nature and explore all the natural beauty that surrounds us. You’ll be happy you did.

Calgon, Take Me to the Mountains…What Moms Really Want



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

Daddy Daycare!

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 hot tub?)

Mom with Teen-agers

Growing up too fast!

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 Daughter

No matter how old you are, you’ll always be my baby.

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!

Dog Friendly Hikes



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

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

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

Duncan Ridge Trail

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

Lupa on the Duncan Ridge Trail

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

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

Appalachian Approach Trail

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


Princess Lupa on the AT Approach

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

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

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

Stanley Gap Trail

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

Lupa ready to take on Stanley Gap Trail

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

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

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

Learning and Leisure



Some of us just don’t “vacation” well. Swinging in a hammock, listening to the birdies go “tweet, tweet, tweet” is a might too boring. Nor does the quest to hike to the top of a waterfall hold any allure. We need a more constructive reason to leave home and head to the mountains. For those who need an educational prospect before booking a cabin, here are some awesome Blue Ridge conferences, workshops, and day trips available this spring. 

From Shabby To Chic

Outlaws Workshop – Stay with us while you venture into town for this 3-day hands-on workshop being offered by an incredibly talented group of home décor specialists. This workshop focuses on refurbishing that old piece of furniture and painting it with the latest techniques. This would be a great Mother-Daughter Weekend retreat – an early celebration of Mother’s Day. May 3-5, 2019

The Center

The 22nd Annual Blue Ridge Writer’s Conference – For more than two decades this writer’s conference has brought together would be authors with leaders in the publishing industry, offering instruction on both sides of the trade. This is a jam-packed conference in an amazingly comfortable atmosphere, aiding in the fostering of new friendships and maximizing business networking. April 5 and 6, 2019.

Leather Working Workshop – The Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Center is the regions premier facility for arts education. Have you wanted a taste of leatherworking without investing lots of time and money? During this one day class students will make something beautiful and learn a new skill.  Each student will take home their creative leather bag including a strap and tassel. April 16, 2019

Rock On!

Chimps Rock – This is the perfect event for kids and kids at heart. Project Chimps provides lifelong care to former research chimpanzees at its 236-acre forested sanctuary in the Blue Ridge Mountains. This is an opportunity to visit the sanctuary, receive a guided walking tour, see chimps behind glass and even participate in a Chimp Rock painting craft project. April 26 and April 27, 2019

Rock the Dome – The O. Wayne Rollins Planetarium at Young Harris College features more than 30 Friday-evening public shows. Guests are encouraged to arrive early for the best seats. No late seating is permitted. These public planetarium shows include a live-narrated “seasonal stargazing” segment in addition to the featured full-dome program. If you love classic rock, don’t miss the performances in late April/early May which will have that Dome rocking to Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Peter Frampton, to name a few. April 26, 2019, May 3, 2019

An Apple A Day

Mercier’s Blossom Tours – Visitors from all over the world flock to Mercier Orchards every year to purchase goods produced from the fruits of the orchards. Few know that in the spring, they can take advantage of guided tours during the blossom season, learning about the cultivation of the many varieties of fruit the Orchard harvests each year. Bring your camera on these tours, because the visual spectacle of the blossoms is almost as captivating as the marvelous fragrant bouquets. Because Mother Nature doesn’t care to keep a tight schedule, you can call the Orchard at 800-361-7731 to find out when the blossom tours will be offered this Spring.

The ABC’s of Horseback Riding



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

Appalachian Trail Rides

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

Cabin Suggestion

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

Blanche Manor

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

Cabin Suggestion

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

Cohutta Stables

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

Cabin suggestion

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