A Four Season Scenic Ride



In the North Georgia Mountains, we celebrate four gentle yet very distinct seasonal transitions, each measured very close to the designated tri-month celestial calendar. Mother Nature’s landscape specialist (shall we call her Flora?) takes a particular interest in altering our mountainscape on a quarterly basis, cloaking it in very different hues, depths of foliage, and fragrances.

To get a full appreciation of Flora’s artistry in any one of the seasonal changeovers, we encourage you to drive the 41 miles of Georgia’s only national scenic drive, The Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway. The Byway, one of only 120  highways across our fifty states so designated, circles around the Chattahoochee National Forest and can be launched just seventeen miles southeast of Fannin County, at the intersection of Hwys 129 and 180, located in neighboring Union County.

Highest Peak In GA

Following Hwy 180 northeast, you’ll travel twelve miles to the entrance to Brasstown Bald, the highest mountain elevation (4,784’) in Georgia. When you get to the top of the Bald’s observation tower, you will have a spectacular 360-degree view of three states!

Photo Courtesy of Steve Grundy Photography

Anna Ruby Falls

Back on Hwy 180 and after heading southeast for ten miles, you will turn south onto Hwy 75/17. Over the next 10 miles, you will motor through some of the heaviest of forestry, including designated recreation areas Unicoi Gap and Andrews Cove. These are ideal places to hike, fish, picnic or just relax before heading out on the next part of your adventure. Driving for just a few minutes you will arrive at one of the region’s finest natural gems, Anna Ruby Falls. This double waterfall is formed from the merging of two creeks, both sourced from underground springs.

Anna Ruby Falls Photo Courtesy of Bill Mantooth

Just three more miles south you will find yourself at Unicoi State Park, where you can jet off on a bicycle, paddleboard on Unicoi Lake or eat at the Unicoi Restaurant located in the beautifully appointed Unicoi Lodge.

Alpine Helen

If you haven’t visited Bavaria’s USA sister city, quaint Helen GA, here’s the best opportunity, located just 3 more miles south of Unicoi State Park. But if Helen isn’t part of your plans for this scenic trip, then backtrack up 75/17 for only two miles where you’ll arrive at the entrance of one of the State’s most beautiful wooded parks, Smithgall Woods/Dukes Creek Falls State Park.  Covering over 5,600 acres, this Park focuses on conservation. It’s also an angler’s paradise with some of the very best trout fishing in the State on the waters of Dukes Creek. Visit their event calendar to see what is scheduled during your visit.

Photo Courtesy of Alpine Helen – White County Convention & Visitors Bureau

Hogpen Gap

There’s one more leg to this journey, and it is perhaps the most spectacular. Just a hair north of Smithgall Woods you will come upon the gateway (Hwy 348) to Richard Russell Scenic Hwy.  These next 23 miles are not only a favorite for motorists, bicyclists and motorcyclists, but wildlife also love to roam all over the cliffs and valleys along this route. Do drive with patience and caution.

Hogpen Gap Photo Courtesy of Scott Michael Anna

Helton Creek Falls

After nearly a 10 mile ascent, you’ll reach Hogpen Gap, (elevation 3,525′). This is a very popular, year-round hiking trail. But for just leaf lookers, the vistas at the appointed observation areas at this elevation are breathtaking! And in the spring there is no better place to view the “greening of the mountains”. As you begin the steep descent traveling north on Richard Russell, the valley brings more surprises as the fields open up and the farmlands, an integral facet of life in historical Choestoe Valley, are dotted across the highway. Look for a turn heading west at Hatchett Creek Rd. Follow this road till it merges with Helton Creek Road and visit one of the area’s favorite family waterfalls, Helton Creek Falls. The short hike (.24 miles) from the parking area leads to two falls. The lower falls has a wading pool area. The upper falls has an observation deck with bench seating.

Helton Creek Falls Photo Courtesy of Molly Carreras

Seasons of Fun!

Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway is a 4 season wonderland. In the spring the hiking trails boast 1500 varieties of wildflowers with over 200 plants indigenous to just this Southern Appalachian region. 

Stop, look and listen and you’ll see fawn and bear cubs emerging from the woods, beavers building dams to reroute the heavy spring rainwater, and you’ll hear the songbirds who’ve migrated back to these mountains from their winter retreats.

Open the windows on your summer drive and capture the fragrances of the season as you pass cavernous areas of native azalea, rhododendron and mountain laurel. The farmers cut hay around Memorial Day and again at Labor Day. The smell of fresh-cut hay, watching the baling process or just coming upon a field of hay bales peppering the countryside all leave an indelible imprint on one’s senses.

Photo Courtesy of Mountain Mem’ries Photography

Summer visits to the waterfalls along this road will often find the thunderous waters framed by a rainbow. And as the days become shorter and autumn ushers in, the forest canopy bursts with vibrant colors as the sweetgum, red maples, and oak trees display their final fashion before shedding their foliage. In winter the starkness of the bare forest, covered in frost is an incredible photo opportunity. The cliffs near Hogpen Gap are covered with ice and a favorite spot for ice climbers to hone their skills.

Plan on this driving adventure the next time you visit us. It promises to impress you, whatever the season. Share your adventures with us by tagging #escapetobr on your social posts. Enjoy!

A Season of Fun



September is a time of transition, when summer is coming to an end, but the crisp nights promise something even better! Life at the lake goes on, the rivers are flowing with enough intensity to host a kayak championship, apples are ripe and ready for picking, and weekend festivals feature
live music, BBQ and brews! Check out the events below and come stay with us this month.

UPCOMING EVENTS & ACTIVITIES

Everybody Loves Opal
August 29 – September 1
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Community Theater

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Community Theater

Every small town has an Opal. She’s a middle-age recluse who lives in an old, falling down mansion on the edge of town. She’s quirky, to say the least and she collects things, hauling them through town to her house in a little red wagon. She’s harmless, she’s also a target, but she’s oblivious and those trying to do her harm end up getting theirs in the end. Familiar story and funny. Check it out!

3rd Annual Labor Day River Run
August 31
LOCATION: Horseshoe Bend Park

Photo Courtesy of the Boys & Girls Club of North Georgia

A fun and beautiful run for all ages, sponsored by the Boys and Girls Club of North Georgia. Awards presented for the top three runners in 5-year incremental age groups, as well as overall firsts for male and female. Welcome the first fall weekend with an exercise activity and some spirited encouragement!

Mountain Heritage Festival
August 31 – September 1
LOCATION: Mountain Life Museum, Blairsville

Photo Courtesy of Visit Downtown Blairsville

It’s a tradition each Labor Day Weekend in Blairsville to celebrate local history and heritage at the place where it all began. Focused on the restored 1861 Payne family log cabin, the Mauney family barn, the Duncan family cabin and other structures from the area’s past, music and craft activities will be very much in evidence, providing entertainment as well as education!

The Art of Dylan Pierce
August 31 – September 28
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association

Photo Courtesy of Dylan Pierce

Beautiful watercolors capturing the soul of his subjects and the heart and beauty of animals, Dylan Pierce has been painting, presenting and touring since he was 12 and hasn’t lost a step.

Low Country Boil at The Cooks Farm
September 1
LOCATION: Cooks Farm in Morganton

Photo Courtesy of Better Than Bouillon

Mountains and sea meet with some Lowcountry cooking, local brews from Grumpy Old Men Brewery and a bit of New Orleans thrown in for good measure. This is a a little bit country Cajun and a little bit charming Charleston. Diversity for sure. The culinary team from Cucina Rustica monitors the fusion to make sure there’s no- con-fusion!

Apple U-Pick
September 1 – 30
LOCATION: Mercier Orchards and Area Orchards in Blue Ridge & Ellijay

Photo Courtesy of Mercier Orchards

It’s apple-pickin’ time! Which means it’s also time for tractor rides through the orchards, corn mazes, and definitely time to enjoy breathtaking mountain views from the top of an apple pickin’ ladder (why is it, by the way, that the best apples always seem to be at the top of the tree?!). Mercier Orchards is in its 76th year of operation, and Labor Day Weekend has always been the time to kick off the season. It’s also time to drive slowly through the lovely stretch of highway near Ellijay, watching for just the right orchard to catch your attention. Look for apple signs all over!

39th Annual Labor Day BBQ & Gospel Music Show
September 1 – 2
LOCATION: Downtown Blue Ridge City Park

Photo Courtesy of the Good Samaritans of Fannin County

Yes, barbecue and gospel music do go together! In fact, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of voices harmonizing, with a bit of sauce on the side. In addition to music and “cue”, there’s also an ice cream social and a chance to discover local churches in the area.

Cartecay Vineyards
September 1 – 29
LOCATION: Cartecay Vineyards

Photo Courtesy of Cartecay Vineyards

A beautiful vineyard and winery set in pastoral farmlands in the heart of the Southern Appalachians. Cartacay’s wine history dates to 2007, but it’s heritage is comprised of Cherokee roots (in fact, Cartecay translates to “bread valley”). The winery features plenty of locally sourced wines, tastings and special events, plus live music on most weekends.

Live Music at Cartecay Vineyards:
September 1 – Downtown Roy
September 7 – Gopher Broke Band
September 8 – Tommy Joe Connor
September 14 – Gregg Erwin
September 15 – Surrender Hill
September 21 – Timothy O’Donovan
September 22 – Ricky Byers
September 28 – Man Bites Dog
September 29 – Cagle & Pitts Duo Review

Plein Air International Paint Out
September 5 – 8
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association

Be on the lookout for artists painting everything everywhere in Fannin County during this four-day international event. You may see artists in parks, in farm fields, even alongside the road – wherever the spirit has moved them to sit, or stand, and capture the beauty and uniqueness of this region on canvas. This is a judged show with various events surrounding it, including opportunities to meet the artists and purchase their work. Art will be on exhibit at the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association from September 10 through October 13.

Grumpy Old Men Brewery
September 6 – 27
LOCATION: Grumpy Old Men Brewery

Photo Courtesy of Grumpy Old Men Brewing

Great beer (18 beers on tap), a fun atmosphere and a stellar philosophy (delicious beer, dog-friendly, people tolerated). Plenty of craft beers, including those brewed in the brewery, and lots of live music. It’s one of those places that locals like!

Live Music at Grumpy’s:
September 6 – Doctor Paul
September 13 – Travis Bowlin
September 27 – Gregg Erwin

Namaste and Cabernet
September 7
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!

Diane Durrett
September 7
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Community Theater

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Ridge Community Theater

Diane Durret, who has performed with Sting, Gregg Allman, the Indigo Girls, Chuck Leavell and countless others will perform at the Blue Ridge Community Theater with her blend of raw soulful vocals, sultry tones and strong original songs!

Ocoee River Championships
September 13 – 15
LOCATION: Ocoee Whitewater Center

Photo Courtesy of Ocoee River Championships

World class whitewater and a bunch of folks who know how to navigate it, it’ll be like watching the Olympics in your own backyard, because these are truly Olympic-level competitors! This three-day event on the Upper Ocoee will feature raft, canoe and kayak competitions in formats ranging from slalom racing to freestyle, set against a spectacular backdrop! During down times you can enjoy the live music and regional vendor booths.

Herbalist Medicine Making
September 14
LOCATION: The Folk Apothic

Photo Courtesy of The Folk Apothic

They used to say “let food be your medicine”…and how many times are diets based on a simple change of what you eat? In this class you will learn how to make and set up an herbal first aide kit, discover poultices, and try out some compresses. Each participant will be given a packet describing how to create your own herbal preparations along with a lot of lecture time and hands on, a small herbal profile, and all materials will be furnished for you to make your own concoctions.

A Facility For Living
September 19 – October 6
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Community Theater

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Ridge Community Theater

For these bored seniors living at the “Home”, life is a monotonous cycle of pills, old movies and 7pm bedtimes, all while overseen by the killjoy nurse. But when a new arrival shakes things up, this geriatric group of grandparents hatch a scheme to break all the rules and rediscover their purpose and dignity.

Blue Ridge Blues and BBQ Music Festival
September 21
LOCATION: Downtown Blue Ridge City Park

Photo Courtesy of the Blues & BBQ Festival

There’s nothing like some cool blues riffs. And, there’s nothing like some tasty, mouth-watering barbecue. Hmmm – put those two together on the same day and you have a sure-fire winner of a fall festival! Which is what the Blues and BBQ Music Festival is, just a beautiful way to spend a day with friends, family, good sounds, and good smells!

Boat Dock Bar and Grill
September 27
LOCATION: Lake Blue Ridge Marina

Photo Courtesy of the Boat Dock Bar & Grill

The Boat Dock Bar and Grill at the Lake Blue Ridge Marina has one of the best views of Lake Blue Ridge around. The restaurant features a full kitchen, outdoor seating, a beachy atmosphere, and it’s dog-friendly (if your dog is dog friendly).

Live Music at the Boat Dock:
September 27 – Gerry Herndon

Music at The Blue Coyote
September 27
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!

Mudcat
September 28
LOCATION: Mystic Mountain Pizza

Photo Courtesy of Kelly Thompson

Danny ‘Mudcat’ Dudeck is an internationally known gospel and bluesman continuing the traditions of the early blues pioneers while adding his own Mudcat edge, resulting in one of Atlanta’s greatest treasures. Don’t miss this show. At Mystic Mountain Pizza you’ll enjoy good food, cold beer, and an inviting atmosphere!

Live Music at the Blue Coyote:
September 27 – Bone Daddy

Dancing Goats FolkFest
September 28 – 29
LOCATION: Downtown Ellijay

Photo Courtesy of the Dancing Goats

First of all, there are no guarantees that these goats really will dance, but you can probably count on them to eat, and provide pretty good backdrops for a great folk festival. Mostly, it’s a pretty snappy name that catches your attention. Once captivated by the possibility of goat dancing, you can settle into a celebration of regional culture and local traditions, including talented artisans plying their crafts, storytelling, and showcases of true folk art. Well worth the trip.

Ride the Rails Festival
September 28-29
LOCATION: Mineral Bluff Depot

Photo Courtesy of Kathy Thompson

You’ve seen ‘em, you just don’t know you’ve seen ‘em. They’re sometimes called Railroad Hand Cars, and sometimes you have to pump them to get around, an exercise best accomplished with two. Operating one of these is just a part of a weekend’s worth of tribute to the world of railroads – hosted, of course, in a train depot, where you can also enjoy a large “HO Scale” model railroad based on the L & N Railroad’s Old Line from Atlanta to Etowah, Tennessee.

NEW HOMES ADDED TO OUR PROGRAM

My Mountain Retreat

What matters most to you in a mountain vacation? Whether it’s a wide range of great activities nearby, a magnificent setting that brings you closer to nature, or the chance to relax, unwind and leave everything in your ‘real life’ behind, you’ll find it all at My Mountain Retreat. Perched on a hillside in a forest clearing overlooking a verdant canopy, with spectacular long-range mountain views, this spacious tri-level showplace is the ideal getaway retreat.

UPGRADED PROPERTIES

Summit Escape

Escape to a mountaintop in Blue Ridge to a home with some of North Georgia’s best views that extend out to two more states. Summit Escape is in the wonderful community of Sun Rock Mountain, and is easily accessible off of paved roads. This property is adjacent to 100 acres of pristine, undisturbed wilderness, yet is convenient to downtown Blue Ridge and McCaysville. There is no better place than this cabin’s expansive wraparound deck or beautiful screened in porch to watch the area’s abounding wildlife from wild turkeys, to deer and hummingbirds.

There are new owners as of 2019, and with the new owners, there are numerous updates! All new kitchen stainless steel appliances, new granite countertops and refinished hardwood floors. The main and downstairs bedrooms have new premium queen pillow top mattresses/boxsprings and there’s new bedding on all levels. Even the basement has a brand new look, with an all new ceiling!

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

8 CABINS WITH INCREDIBLE LAKE & MOUNTAIN VIEWS

Heavens Whisper

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. KEEP READING.

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!

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 four-bedroom cabin is situated in a wooded lot on Lake Nottely. True to its name, this retreat comes with a double-decker dock that’s tailor made for swimming, fishing, and sunning. The nearby marina provides boats and jet skis for rent, and it’s an easy drive to activities like tubing, golf, hiking, or exploring vineyards, parks and waterfalls. The possibilities for adventure are endless here, but if you just want to relax and unwind, you’ll find that too, without leaving the property. You can soak your cares away in the eight-seat hot tub with a view of the lake, settle into a rocking chair with a book, a beer or a glass of wine, or simply enjoy a spectacular sunset from the porch!

Eagles Landing

Take in the breathtaking beauty of natural surroundings and the serenity of a lodge situated against the National Forrest and directly on Lake Blue Ridge. Eagles Landing is a spectacular showplace that has incomparable views of the surrounding mountains and will capture your attention and your heart before you even step through the front door. The epitome of rustic elegance, there are seven bedrooms to accommodate 19 guests, making it ideal for large families, reunions, couples’ weekends or getaways with all your friends. By day, enjoy boating and swimming at the lake and all the activities the nearby Aska Adventure Area has to offer. Unwind afterward with good food, conversation, and entertainment indoors or under the stars. Whether inside or out, enjoy views and privacy that cannot be found anywhere else!

Firefly Lake House

Ahh, the lake! If you’re looking for a waterfront home away from home, Firefly Lake House offers a refreshing respite right on Lake Nottely during the summer months. This contemporary, spacious three-level house provides plenty of room for everyone, easily accommodating several couples or one or two families. Professionally decorated, it features upscale furnishings throughout the home and four luxurious bedrooms awaiting you at the end of each fun-filled day on the lake. Like catching fireflies in a jar, capture brilliant memories here that you’ll treasure forever!

Lake Blue Ridge Overlook

This unique three-bedroom cabin is situated directly on Lake Blue Ridge, which makes it perfect for water sports enthusiasts. It comes with a private dock and boat slip, so you can swim, water ski, and go fishing, boating, kayaking or canoeing to your heart’s content, all just a few steps away. Have a Labrador or other four-legged family member that likes to swim? Bring them! This cabin welcomes well behaved (and dried off) fur babies. Lake Blue Ridge Overlook was designed for outdoor living. Grab a good book and relax on the screened in porch, soak your sore muscle in a hot tub, or kickback on the party deck complete with a wood burning fireplace, flat screen tv, comfortable seating, and an incredible view!

Lakefront Getaway

True to its name, Lakefront Getaway has 94 feet of lake frontage and a huge double-decker dock with chaise lounges, two Jet Ski lifts, and a boat hookup. A nearby marina rents Jet Skis, pontoon boats, paddleboards and kayaks, but feel free to bring your own. Uniquely designed and luxuriously furnished, with a wall of windows in the open-plan great room and the two master suites on either side opening onto an enormous deck framing the view, this cabin elicits the same reaction from everyone that visits: “Wow!” Ideal for a small family or a couples’ weekend with your best friends, this two-bedroom cabin is like having your own private high-end luxury resort with a beautiful lake steps away!

Luxury Lakeside Lodge

Swim in the lap of luxury as well as Lake Nottely with every amenity imaginable all on the shores of deep lake water with its own private boat dock. This welcoming log home with its green shingled roof complimenting the bright blue-green color of the water will take your breath away. At Luxury Lakeside Lodge, you’ll be living large in every way as this home is about all things abundant or oversized! This cabin features king-sized beds and seating areas in each of its five bedrooms. There is a huge deck with an outdoor dining area and new gas grill for those fresh caught fish coming in from your guests’ fishing excursion. Greet them at the dock just steps away from the home — or take a little dip before heading back inside. Inside, there’s a great wall of floor-to-ceiling windows, just one indication that everything about this North Georgia cabin was built to showcase the gorgeous views of the lake and mountains. It has been professionally decorated with well-appointed furnishings that were also chosen for comfort and relaxation. Truly living up to its name, Luxury Lakeside Lodge can easily accommodate one or multiple families for a truly spectacular lake side vacation!

Meant to Be

Located on Lake Nottely five miles from the town of Blairsville, this spectacular tri-level showplace offers you breathtaking mountain and water views, accommodations for 14 guests in its five bedrooms and loft, and all the amenities of a top-flight resort. Meant to Be has a game room, but the outdoor living is where it’s at in this spectacular getaway. Dine alfresco at the marble table that seats eight while you cook your fresh catch on the gas grill. Need more seating? There is plenty on the screened-in porch or down at the dock. On the lower level deck, there’s a six-person hot tub with a great view of the mountains and lake, providing magnificent scenery as you soak your cares away. Designed for maximum comfort, each of the five spacious bedrooms has its own bathroom. But the best thing about this unique mountain retreat is its wonderful setting, welcoming ambiance, and the feeling of peace and serenity that you’ll remember long after you’ve left!

Pure Pleasure on the Lake

This magnificent North Georgia cabin rental is located on Lake Nottely and has one of the best lake views the area has to offer. This pet friendly retreat sits just over the shoreline with tiered steps down to its private dock with a ladder. Year-long deep water makes it a great property if you’d like to bring your own boat or rent one from the nearby marina. Double your pleasure at Pure Pleasure on the Lake, because when it comes to this home, it seems to have two (or more) of everything you really want. There are two top-of-the-line kitchens, one located on the main and the other in the game room. Two indoor dining tables, adjacent to each of the kitchens and another table out on the deck provide plenty of spots to share and take pride over the fresh fish that was caught earlier in the day. When its time to turn in for the day you can choose from four bedrooms that all have plush king-sized beds. This home has been thoughtfully designed all for its guests’ pleasure and you’ll find that it fulfills all of your family’s vacation needs from endless fun to never-ending tranquility!

Southern Comfort

Standing tall on the lakeshore, the three-bedroom Blue Ridge mountain cabin rental Southern Comfort offers you two vacation destinations in one: a magnificent mountain retreat and an aquatic playground that boating, fishing and swimming enthusiasts will love. Located on Lake Blue Ridge near Morganton boat launch, this lovely lakefront property comes with its own double-decker dock with a boat slip below and a lounging area above with umbrella-shaded table, chairs and lounges. If you settle in there or on the cabin’s double deck, you’ll be treated to a magnificent year-round view. Sunsets are especially incredible, with the sun shining on the lake as it dips behind the mountains!