5 Scenic North Georgia Overlooks



If you want to take in the sights of North Georgia and explore some awesome places along the way, then these 5 scenic drives are for you! You’ll have, literally, a front row seat of the most stunning long range mountain views in the state and you’ll want to make some fun pitstops along the way! Roll the windows down, enjoy the weather, and cruise through the Blue Ridge Mountains. *Featured Photo courtesy of Scott Michael Anna

Richard Russell Scenic Highway

Photo Courtesy of Metro-On-The-Move

A scenic journey on Highway 348 should be at the top of your list for a mountain drive. Just about 30 minutes East of Blue Ridge you can access the Richard Russell Scenic Highway via the town of Blairsville. Winding and curving as mountain roads should, you’ll feel the climb in altitude as you make your way down the 23 mile stretch of a National Scenic Byway. Once you’ve climbed to peak altitude, there is a perfect spot at HogPen Gap to stop and take in the glorious mountain views! Snap a picture and hop back in the car for the next overlook as you cross into Helen/White County. You’ll encounter a trailhead of the Appalachian Trail and maybe see some hikers passing through. In the winter time, the rock walls turn to ice and you can catch ice climber’s practicing their sport! As you start descending the mountain you’ll find access trail to Dukes Creek Falls and Raven Cliff Falls. Highway 348 dead-ends into Highway 75 where you can hang a left and go adventure in the quaint town of Helen, Ga!

129 South

Photo Courtesy of Lindy Callahan

Highway 129 South will take you right through Chattahoochee National Forest, which takes up a large part of North Georgia, a whopping 749,689 acres! You’ll also climb through the North Georgia Mountains on your way, taking in the sights as you go. But before you start the climb, we highly recommend you stop at Sunrise Grocery to load up on boiled peanuts and provisions to enjoy as you wind through the Blue Ridge mountains. Along the way you will pass the access road for Helton Creek Falls, Lake Winfield Scott, and the stunning Vogel State Park. Eventually, you’ll make your way to the top of Neels Gap and the base of Blood Mountain. Stretch your legs, take some pictures at the beautiful overlook or take a hike to the top of Blood Mountain if you’re up for it. Either way, you’ll be right on the Appalachian Trail so if you’re not up for an intense hike, you can still walk the width of the Appalachian Trail here! After you do, stop into Mountain Crossing, an outdoor sports store, for a keepsake or souvenir. Here you can also learn about thru-hiking, section hiking, and pick up any outdoor equipment or gear you may need!

Highway 60

Photo Courtesy of Explore Georgia

Take a drive through the countryside of Suches on Highway 60. This drive will take you through the scenic Chattahoochee National Forest, so if wilderness is your passion this drive is the one for you! On your drive, you’ll pass access points to some of our favorite spots like Serenberry Vineyards and the Swinging Bridge over the Toccoa River. As your drive continues, you will get to some of the most stunning and untouched wilderness you’ve ever seen! The Suches area is known as “The Valley Above the Clouds” and you’ll definitely feel like since this ride takes you 3,000 feet above sea level! This ride will loop around until you reach Stonepile Gap, where you can continue to Dahlonega, hang a right to head towards Blairsville or ring around the Stone Pile and head back to Blue Ridge on Highway 60.

Highway 5/S.R. 2

Photo Courtesy of Nate Shivar

For a true mountain experience, we recommend taking a ride through the Cohutta Wilderness. Beginning right in the heart of Blue Ridge, take Highway 5 (by McDonald’s) and head north passing the famous Mercier Orchards on your left. We recommend stopping for fried pies, apple bread, or apple cider donuts to take on your trip. If you stay straight on Hwy 5, you’ll end up in the twin cities of McCaysville, GA and Copperhill, TN where you can stand on the state line and get a little shopping down at the Riverwalk Shops! But to get out in the deep mountains, you are going to hang a left on South Road 2. Fair warning – the road is no longer paved, but you will be surrounded by a hardwood forest on both sides of the road. You’ll travel on until you reach Watson Gap at 2,700 feet in altitude! Hang a right to head towards the Ocoee River or take a left on Forest Service road 64 to Lake Conasauga. Continue your way up climbing to 2,840 feet above sea level to Dyer Gap. As you continue your journey you will pass access points to Jacks River Falls, Three Forks Mountain, Cowpen Trail, and the Mountaintown Creek Overlook at an altitude of a whopping 3,484 feet!

Highway 180

Preacher’s Rock courtesy of Hike the South

Highway 180 is a truly beautiful drive from Helen to Suches. As you take in the beauty of the Chattahoochee National Forest, you can take a quick turn off onto Spur 180 and begin climbing the mountain up to the base of Brasstown Bald, the highest peak in Georgia. The views from the top are stunning and here you can see four states – Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. On a clear day you can even see the Atlanta skyline which is about 90 miles as the crow flies. If you don’t take the spur, Highway 180 continues and takes a little jog on Hwy 129 before you pick it back up again to start climbing Woody Gap. Untouched and pristine, the winding road will take you on the backside of Vogel State Park and up to the top where you’ll find Lake Winfield Scott and the Woody Gap overlook. Here you can also access the Appalachian Trail and one of the most photo worthy spots on Preacher’s Rock.

Hiking out the Back Door



When you come to the mountains, you come to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and get out in nature. So it’s important that you’re close to all the trails and outdoor adventures that Blue Ridge has to offer; www.escapetoblueridge.com/blog/seven-blue-ridge-hikes.

But what if these trails were right outside your cabin doors? Step outside and start on the trails, no driving necessary! Immerse yourself in the great outdoors and get moving with access to miles worth of trails, right in your backyard.  These 6 cabins are the perfect retreat for all the outdoor lovers and hikers out there! 

Aska Adventure Lodge

This beautiful cabin is right in the heart of the Aska Adventure Area and less than 5 minutes from Toccoa River, Lake Blue Ridge, and town. Just off of the vast, wraparound porch, you’ll find yourself just steps from The Benton MacKaye Trail. Along the trail, you might run into Fall Branch Falls, Long Creek Falls, Toccoa River Swinging Bridge, and even Springer Mountain. You’re also close to many great tubing and canoeing opportunities.

After a long day on the trails, lay back and soak in the hot tub or play a game of pool in the game room. Even inside you won’t feel far from the outdoors, with themed rooms like “Trout Camp”, a bear room, and an all-around rustic, natural look throughout. Aska Adventure Lodge sleeps up to 10 people, so grab a group of your favorite hikers and get ready to adventure! 

TreeTops

Perched high on the mountain overlooking the Aska Adventure Area, this classic mountain cabin is close by to a variety of great outdoor activities! Tube down the Toccoa River, catch fish in Lake Blue Ridge, or walk down the driveway to Long Mountain Trail which connects to both the Benton MacKaye Trail and the Aska Adventure Trail, where all kinds of beautiful hikes await you!

Even enjoy a long, scenic ride on the winding Aska Road to Highway 60 and take in all the mountain views. TreeTops also has a hot tub and game room; perfect for unwinding after a busy day. You can even bring your furry friend along to join in all the fun! 

Sanctuary Summit

For a relaxing escape to the wilderness, Sanctuary Summit is your place! This newly constructed cabin, built-in 2020, sits high on a hillside overlooking the National Forest. You’ll have stunning mountain views all around and can see Lake Blue Ridge off in the distance.

Located in the Aska Adventure Area, you’ll be just steps away from all kinds of fun outdoor activities. With access to dozens of hiking trails, the beautiful Toccoa River, and so much more, you’ll basically be living outdoors for a week! And Sanctuary Summit is pet friendly as well, so be sure to bring your pup along with you on the trails

Even when you’re inside the cabin you can enjoy the great outdoors with multiple wrap-around decks and enormous windows where you can sit to watch the sunset. In the evening, you can grill out on the deck and cuddle up next to the wood-burning fireplace. And of course, this cabin has both a hot tub and a game room as well so you can unwind however you choose! Hike, relax, and escape at this wonderful cabin!

Lake View Retreat

Perfect for a small group of nature lovers, Lake View Retreat is built right into the side of the mountain with an amazing view of Lake Blue Ridge framed by the trees. Since it’s located right next to Lake Blue Ridge it’s the perfect getaway for those who’d rather be on the lake. Boat and kayak on the lake, catch lots of fish, and if it’s summertime enjoy a nice swim.

Not only is Lake View Retreat close to Lake Blue Ridge but it’s also nearby countless hiking trails and the Toccoa River, where more outdoor adventures await! After a long day at the lake or on the trails soak into one of the comfy leather couches and watch some TV by the fire. It’s also pet friendly, and has a hot tub and game room as well! Grab your closest friends and go live a week by the lake! 

Take a Hike

As its name implies Take a Hike is perfect for all the hikers out there! Located in the Cohutta Wilderness and on Mt. Pisgah, you’ll experience stunning mountain views from any of the cabin’s 3 decks and be fully immersed in nature. Right from your cabin, step on the trails and enjoy an easy hike to a waterfall, cave, and even Colonel Magnum’s memorial. Or take a quick drive to get to any of the major trails in the Cohutta Wilderness like Daily Gap, Jacks River, Benton MacKaye, and Hemptop.

Also enjoy fantastic mountain biking trails around the mountain base. And within just 20 minutes from the cabin, you’ll find fishing, boating, and rafting adventures at the Ocoee River, Lake Blue Ridge, and Fighting Town Creek. You’ll have a full day of fun and adventure in store with so many great outdoor opportunities so close by.

When your day of hiking, biking, fishing, and boating is done enjoy dinner with a view at the picnic table and rocking chairs on the back deck. You’ll get cozy by the outdoor fireplace and watch the sunset. Then after dinner is done and the sun has set, step on down to the yard for s’mores by the fire or a dip in the hot tub. This cabin was truly made for outdoor lovers and adventurers! 

The Overlook 

Last but not least on our list is the beautiful and secluded cabin, The Overlook. It gets it’s name because it overlooks the Aska Adventure Area, Lake Blue Ridge, and has panoramic mountain views. And lucky for you outdoor lovers, it’s in short walking distance to the Benton McKaye trail, which takes you to past numerous falls, rivers, and mountain hikes. Its prime location and easy access to the trails makes this cabin the ideal escape for hikers.

Even while at the cabin you can take full advantage of the great outdoors by sitting out on the deck in a rocking chair and taking in the views. Or soak in the hot tub to warm up and relax after a long day on the trails. You’ll absolutely love having your own private and secluded oasis, far away from the rest of the world! 

How Did the Blue Ridge Mountains Form?



When we say the old Blue Ridge mountains, we mean it! As part of the Appalachian mountain range, the Blue Ridge mountains are the second oldest range in the whole world. Over 1 BILLION years ago, shifts in our Earth’s tectonic plates caused the Blue Ridge mountains to form in a system of peaks and valleys that span eight states!

Sometimes it’s a little confusing that you can see the Blue Ridge mountains in other states besides Georgia but these mountains are vast. There is a Northern section that includes Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. The Southern section includes West Virginia, Tennessee, North & South Carolina, and of course right here in Blue Ridge, Georgia! Our particular section of the range is known as the Appalachian Mountain Range and we are a part of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest.

They Really are Blue!

View from “Adventure Us” cabin

Have you ever wondered why these mountains are called Blue Ridge? If you catch any section of the range at the right time of day, you’ll see that the mountains have a distinctive blue color. The forests that cover these rocky protrusions are predominately made up of spruce and fir trees and they emit isoprene into the atmosphere creating the blue hue!

The Blue Ridge Mountains can span across 60 miles in some locations. While the tallest mountain in this system is Mount Mitchell in North Carolina rising at 6,684 feet high, just 30 minutes from downtown Blue Ridge is the tallest peak in Georgia, Brasstown Bald rising at 4,784 feet above sea level! Here you can see 4 states!

Photo Courtesy of Brasstown Bald

Early Inhabitants

The Native Americans, and specifically the Cherokee, lived in the Blue Ridge area more than 12,000 years ago! The moderate climate and the character of the mountains themselves, made a perfect region for inhabitants to settle. They farmed and hunted in the valleys and mountains that they called “the Enchanted Land” until they were forced to leave on the Trail of Tears.

Two Features

Photo Courtesy of @ancole78

One popular trail system that follow the Blue Ridge mountains all the way through Virginia is the Appalachian Trail. Hikers along the trail get the advantage of seeing the stunning untouched beauty of the mountains.

At the extreme Southern tip of the Appalachian Trail and the entire Blue Ridge mountain system is the spectacular Amicalola Falls, the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi!

High Class in the High Hills²



(If you haven’t had the chance to read our Part I blog, we encourage you to click here and see what indulgent amenities the North Georgia Mountains has to offer in the way of pampering services and adventure experiences! Now we’d like to take you to other areas of resort vacationing that you might not expect to find here in a 30-mile radius of your luxurious cabin rental.)

Outdoor Fun and Entertainment (Including Spirits)

“Wine is the only artwork you can drink” 


Luis Fernando Oliverri
Photo Courtesy of Bear Claw Vineyards

If this quote is accurate than the North Georgia mountains boasts over 20 “museums” or vineyards. With its high elevation, warm temperatures, sandy red clay and aged granite soil (which soaks up extra moisture that could potentially affect proper grape ripening), this region is ideally suited for producing varietals more often associated with France – Cabernet Franc, Viognier, Malbec – and other parts of Europe (Touriga, Sangiovese).

Nearly every one of these vineyards has a tasting room, and all are picturesque. Yet the disadvantage of visiting these wineries on your own is the need for a “designated driver”.  Now everyone in your party can partake with the lavish way to tour and taste your way through some of the region’s finest vineyards and wineries. VIP Southern Tours has different wine tours available to their clients, but they also will help you build your own personal winery tour based on your vino preferences coupled with their years of experience touring North Georgia’s wine country.

Mountain High

Photo Courtesy of Wing-N-It Seasplane Tours

In Part 1 of our High-Class blog we covered adventure by land and by sea, but we didn’t mention the thrilling adventure of seeing the mountaintops by air! It was 60 years ago when TV’s Lloyd Bridges took his seaplane up in every episode in the 1960’s show “Sea Hunt”.  More than a half-century later you can charter your own Seaplane just 30 miles up the highway in Hiawaseee on Lake Chatuge. Wing-N-It Seaplane Tours has air tours of all the regional lakes, including Lake Blue Ridge. We suggest you also sample the mountainscape tours which are particularly breathtaking in the peak of Autumn or customize your own tour package.

Par!

Photo Courtesy of Old Toccoa Farm

Is it the trails or the links for your vacation? Old Toccoa Farm , in neighboring Mineral Bluff, GA, is one of the courses that has shaped the golf world in 2019. This 18 hole course is the most attractive and challenging course in the North Georgia Mountains and selected as the 4th Best Golf Course in Georgia by Golf Advisor! The course winds through 125 acres of ridges and meadows, featuring over 280 feet of elevation change with spectacular views of the Chattahoochee and Cherokee National Forests and surrounding valleys. You’ll be more than smitten with the spectacular views, lush fairways and the immaculate condition of the greens and bunkers.

Trail

Photo Courtesy of Appalachian Trail Rides at S&T Stables

If you feel more like donning Hoss’s 10 Gallon cap than Payne Stewart’s scally cap, then a trail ride on horseback is in order. And there are no friendlier and knowledgeable trail guides than the staff at Appalachian Trail Rides at S&T Stables.   This 250 acre privately owned mountainous farm features a large stable facility, pasture, scenic trails, private lakes, and creeks.  There is a full menu of trail rides to take advantage of, but they also will provide a private trail ride for just you and your guests. 

Epicurean Fantasies Become Reality

“A great meal is an experience that nourishes more than your body. “


Ruth Reichl
Photo Courtesy of The Black Sheep

This stylish, and classy restaurant believes in fresh food that’s locally sourced and artfully prepared. Set in a historic house (circa 1814) you have your choice of pet-friendly patio seating under a 200-year-old oak tree, the enclosed porch with its flaming heaters, up at the beautifully appointed bar or in the main dining room, where service is second to none.  Start with an appetizer of pork belly and marmalade, add a perfect beet salad and eventually savor the lamb pappardelle. We can’t forget to mention that The Black Sheep offers a killer Brunch menu every Saturday and Sunday from 12 noon to 4pm. The Sunday paper, an inspired Bloody Mary and a chicken & red velvet waffle. Who can resist? Reservations are recommended.

You can also choose to eat at higher elevations. Cucina Rustica is located just down the road and up a wooded hill in neighboring Morganton. Upon entering this rustic dining experience you will find yourself transported to an established trattoria on a Tuscan hillside. The finest of dining experiences features the Italian cuisine of Chef Danny Mellman. This highly reviewed establishment is a true farm-to-table experience, with Chef Mellman growing many of the vegetables and herbs on his own organic farm. His interpretation of Old World Italian foods range from Sicilian fish dishes to Northern Italian pasta and succulent roasted meat dishes has a bountiful loyal patronage, so be sure to call or make online reservations. 

Concierge Services at Your Fingertips

Part of our amazing Escape to Blue Ridge team

We hope we’ve helped you consider another opulent option to that oceanfront resort you head to each year. When booking your cabin with Escape of Blue Ridge you also have available to you our knowledgeable concierge team.

We can connect you with most any experience you want to try (i.e. fly fishing guide, whitewater rafting etc).  Share with us the type of experience that you are looking for and we will offer suggestions on where to go and what to do, and then enlist us to book the experience.