Top 5 Scenic Fall Drives



Fall is finally here! And that means taking the more scenic route, to enjoy all the beautiful fall foliage that Blue Ridge and the surrounding areas have to offer. Here are our 5 favorite scenic roads to drive this fall that will provide you with the best views and a variety of fun stops along the way that the whole family will enjoy!

Suches

Preachers Rock courtesy of The Hobson Homestead

A drive through Suches, on Highway 60, has to be one of the most beautiful drives through Blue Ridge’s countryside!  It is one of the most elevated areas in the state of Georgia, approaching 3,000 feet above sea level, which is why many people call it “The Valley Above the Clouds”.  It’s such a beautiful place that, up until recent years, the Tour of Georgia bicycle race went directly through Suches and onto Dahlongea. Suches is completely surrounded by the Chattahoochee National Forest so there are many fantastic hiking trails and pit stops to make. If you’re up for a little adventure there’s the Swinging Bridge over the Toccoa River. It’s the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi River at 270 feet long! It’s the perfect place to hike or even kayak down the river. Nearby is also Preacher’s Rock, a great place to hike and catch some stunning views. 

Cohutta Wilderness

Jacks River Falls Trail in the Cohutta Wilderness courtesy of Atlanta Trails

We couldn’t make this list without a trip through the beautiful Cohutta Wilderness! The Cohutta Wilderness is the largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi taking up over 40,000 acres of land. They also make up a part of the oldest mountain chain in the world, running all the way from Fannin County to the Tennessee and North Carolina borders. For the best views take Highway 5, which will lead you through the Cohuttas and be surrounded by fall beauty all around! Make sure to take a pitstop at Mercier Orchards to pick up some fresh apples and enjoy fun for the whole family. And be sure to check out the historic site of Prater’s Mill, a pre-civil war building and continued working mill.  

Cherohala Skyway

Cherohala Skyway photograph by Mike Waller

Cherohala Skyway passes through Tennessee and parts of North Carolina, but we assure you it’s worth the drive. It’s a 43 mile long National Scenic Byway and National Forest Scenic Byway, passing through both Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests which gives the road its name Chero-Hala. While on the drive be sure to make a stop at Bald River Falls. It’s a beautiful, 90-foot waterfall and a great place to take some awesome pictures. Another great stop is located in Tellico Plains, TN; The Charles Hall Museum and Visitor Center. The museum features many antiques from Charles Hall who was a local businessman and resident of Tellico Plains. From old photographs, guns, telephone equipment, and other historic artifacts there’s sure to be something fun and interesting for the whole family!

Ocoee Scenic Byway

Chilhowee view courtesy of Jim Caldwell

Ocoee Scenic Byway is another Tennessee road filled with stunning mountain views, rock peaks, Lake Ocoee, and the Cherokee National Forest. The area is also filled to the brim with Civil War and Cherokee Indian historic sites. One historic site to check out on your drive is the Old Copper Road. Originally, the road was used to transport copper ore from Copperhill and Ducktown to Clevland, TN. They moved the copper by horse-drawn wagons and once they reached Cleveland the copper was then transported by train all the way to Richmond, VA and Birmingham, AL. The copper transported here was the main source of copper for the Confederacy during the Civil War. The original Old Copper Road has now been rehabilitated into a hiking trail at Ocoee Whitewater Center. The river at the Ocoee Whitewater Center was even the site of the canoe and kayak competition in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games!

Highway 180

Hwy 180 courtesy of Scott Michael Anna

Highway 180 connects with Georgia’s only national scenic drive, The Russell-Brasstown Scenic Drive. You’ll circle around the Chattahoochee National Forest on this road and have a front row seat to all the trees changing colors.  If you follow highway 180 for about 12 miles you’ll reach Brasstown Bald, which has the highest elevation in the whole state of Georgia. Make sure to check out the observation tower where you’ll have a view of 3 different states at once! Hop back on 180 and pass through Helen, GA where you can stop at Habersham Vineyards & Winery, one of Georgia’s oldest and largest wineries. Relax for a bit and enjoy a refreshing glass of one of their award winning wines. Also in Helen, GA be sure to check out The Georgia Mountain Coaster. It’s the first alpine roller coaster in Georgia and a quick ride on it will be sure to be a thrilling experience!

These roads are the perfect trip to enjoy the views and the vibrant colors that the mountains have to offer. So grab your family, fill up your tank, and keep the windows rolled down for an awesome trip through the Blue Ridge Mountains this fall! And please share your photos with us. We love to see them!

Hit the Rapids



Photo courtesy of Ocoee Rafting

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.

Cartecay River

Photo Courtesy of Ellijay River Outfitters

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!  

Nantahala River

Photo courtesy of Nantahala Outdoor Center

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.

Ocoee River

Photo Courtesy of Ocoee Rafting

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.

Chattooga River

Photo Courtesy of Wildwater

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!