Adventure Awaits in Aska



Nestled only a few miles outside of downtown Blue Ridge, the Aska Adventure Area is packed with plenty of activities for visitors. Whether you are hoping to explore the serene North Georgia Mountains or grab a bite to eat at a mom-and-pop restaurant, you’ll have a blast in the Aska region of Blue Ridge. The Toccoa River, Appalachian Trail, and the Benton Mackaye Trail all intersect through the Aska Trail System. When you are ready to make your Escape to Blue Ridge, don’t forget to pack your hiking boots, load up the bicycle and get ready to have some great outdoor fun!

Eat Off Aska

Photo Courtesy of Toccoa Riverside Restaurant

If you’re looking for a tasty meal without breaking the bank, Van Zandt’s Riverwalk Grill & Grocery is a country diner serving breakfast and lunch. Their shelves are stocked with basic groceries and a gift shop with goods crafted by local artisans.

The Toccoa Riverside Restaurant is a true ‘taste-and-see’ spot, as this eatery sits alongside rushing river waters. Here you can feast upon fresh local trout prepared several different ways or choose from the finest and freshest steaks, seafood, ribs, and signature pasta dishes. Pets are welcome and Fido can even enjoy some canine cuisine from the Pooch Porch Goodies menu!

Play

Photo Courtesy of Ashley Williams

Channel your inner child and get ready for a day full of fun and adventure at the Lilly Pad Village. Explore the two acres of picturesque land and choose to go gem mining, fishing, and mini-golfing! You are sure to get lots of smiles out of your little ones, and who knows, you might end up having more fun playing along with them!

Roll up your sleeves and get ready for an entertaining and educational gem mining experience. Once you’ve discovered some shiny treasure, head over to the fishing pond for some peaceful relaxation. The fishing hole, sitting on one-third of an acre, is stocked with catfish, bream, and bass. Fishing tickets and rental equipment are offered on-site. End your trip at Lilly Pad Village with a competitive game of mountainside mini-golf. The nine-hole mini-golf course takes players through tall trees with sounds from a variety of birds and frogs at the lily pond. The best part about Lilly Pad Village is that your activity ticket lasts all day so you can stay as long as you would like!

Explore Trails

Map Courtesy of the Blue Ridge Ranger District Office of the US Forest Service

Because of its mountainous terrain, hiking is one of the main reasons that travelers add Aska to their must-visit list. The Aska Trails Area consists of a 17-mile trail system where hikers and mountain bikers of all skill levels can explore. This trail system highlights the landscapes of North Georgia by revealing mountain peaks, shorelines of Lake Blue Ridge, and a series of hardwood trees among thickets of Mountain Laurel and Rhododendrons.

A few of our favorite hiking and mountain biking trails include:

  1. Long Branch Loop (2.3 miles round trip)
  2. Green Mountain Trail (2.8 miles round trip)
  3. Flat Creek Loop (6 miles round trip)
  4. Stanley Gap Trail (9.5 miles round trip)

A River Runs Through It

Photo Courtesy of Dell Neighbors

The Toccoa River flows parallel to Aska Road and is at the heart of outdoor activities in this idyllic mountain region. The 93-mile-long river journeys through the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Ocoee River Basin and is one of the South’s few north-flowing rivers. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful Toccoa by their choice of tubing, kayaking, rafting, or fishing.

Photo Courtesy of the Toccoa Valley Campground

A tubing trip down the Toccoa River is a popular activity that allows visitors a simple way to capture the river’s beauty. Depending on the drop-off site, you can float on your river tube for an hour or close to four hours. The Toccoa Valley Campground, Shallowford Bridge Tubing, and Van Zandt’s each offer tube rentals, life vests, and a shuttle trip.

Rafting and kayaking allow you to embark along the Toccoa River at your own pace. If you’re looking for a route alone or with a guide, both options are available in Aska. Pack a lunch and enjoy cruising along the mountain waters. Kayaks and rafts can be rented at the Jon Ron Toccoa Outfitters.

Photo Courtesy of Cohutta Fishing Company

Fishing in the surrounding Aska areas provides peace and relaxation for all outdoor enthusiasts. Sandy Bottoms is an excellent spot to splash in the swimming hole or catch fish on a hot summer day. Another great fishing location is at the Shallowford Bridge. Underneath the steel one-lane bridge, fishermen (and women) can set up their line and patiently wait for a bite. Private guided trout fishing tours are also available through companies like Cohutta Fishing Company.

The breathtaking scenery and endless adventures are waiting to be explored off Aska. This adventure area is rich in history and wildlife, and it will be a trip that you won’t forget. Hop in the car and Escape to Blue Ridge to explore the Aska Adventure Area!

Hiking Blue Ridge



Calling all thrill-seekers, backpackers, and outdoor enthusiasts! We believe that the view from up above will always be greater than the view from down below! The adrenaline that motivates you to keep going and the feeling of conquering a new trail only make up a fraction of what makes hiking worth the while. The hiking trails located around Blue Ridge remind us why we are so lucky to call this beautiful earth our home!

While hiking through Fannin County you can experience the steep mountain terrain and flowing rivers, making it one of the best ways to spend a sunny afternoon. We rounded up a the top 7 trails for beginners, experts, and everyone in between. Whether you have been hiking for years or just hoping to begin, we have found that the trails can’t tell the difference!

Lake Blue Ridge Trail

Photo Courtesy of Ginny Young

Hike alongside this simple and scenic trail and experience one of the most stunning lakes in Georgia for yourself. The Lake Blue Ridge Loop comes in at about 0.8 miles and is well maintained, making it achievable for all ages. Once the hike is finished, head on over to the Morganton Point Recreation Area to splash in the cool lake at their sandy beach!

Toccoa River Swinging Bridge Trail

Photo Courtesy of Cindy Hushon

Accessing the 270-foot-long suspension bridge above the Toccoa River can be as short as a .5 mile hike or make it a 2-mile mountain hike and fully take in the beauty of North Georgia! This hike offers a cool breeze from the Toccoa River and the excitement of bouncing along the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi River!

The Swinging Bridge Trail is a part of the Benton MacKaye Trail (BMT) which consists of 300-miles of nature just waiting to be explored! If a 2-mile hike is like a walk in the park for you, keep following the BMT for more mountain views and a multitude of adventures!

Grassy Mountain Tower Trail

Photo Courtesy of Robert Shaw

Hiking through the Cohutta Wilderness on the Grassy Mountain Tower Trail comes with amazing outdoor perks on a 5-mile moderate hike. The adventure begins along the shore of the Lake Conasauga, a spot ideal for a picnic to fuel up for the trek. Once you make your way around the lake, the elevation and the views begin to increase. As you make your way to the trail peak, hikers can expect to see Fort Mountain and long-ranging views. The best part of this trail is climbing the stairs of the historic Grassy Mountain Fire Lookout Tower for an outstanding view of the surrounding countryside!

Emery Creek Falls

Photo Courtesy of Susan Burkley Brock

Serenity and a remote escape from civilization can be found while on the Emery Creek Falls Trail. This intermediate trail takes hikers through 20 creeks and past several waterfalls throughout the 6.2-mile round trip hike.  These double waterfalls, located outside of Ellijay, provide plenty of adventure with wildlife and green forestry surrounding your every step!

Hemp Top Trail

Photo Courtesy of Bill Lee

Hemp Top Trail offers sights with some of the highest peaks in Georgia and provides breathtaking sights of the Tennessee Valley as well. With Blue Ridge located only 10 miles away, this quiet hike will submerge you right into the beauty of the North Georgia wilderness. The abundant hardwood trees provide enough shade for moderate-skilled hikers along the 6.2-mile course and if you’re lucky you may experience a chilly mountain breeze!

Three Forks to Springer Mountain

Photo Courtesy of Ina Richards

This hike to Springer Mountain comes in at 8.6 miles round trip includes mountain peak views, tranquil streams, and a lush environment. This trail intersects with the Benton Mackaye Trail and the Appalachian Trail. Your summer hiking boots will lead you to the official end of the Appalachian Trail once you hike the 4.3 miles to view the Springer Mountain summit. At the Springer Mountain peak, you can take a rest with your portable hammock, grab a handful of your favorite trail mix, or simply sit in awe to marvel at the gorgeous views!

Jacks River Trail

Photo Courtesy of Nate Kirby

Immerse yourself in the hardwood trees of North Georgia while hiking alongside the Jacks River. Located within the Cohutta Wilderness, the Jacks River Trail invites hikers to witness one of the most captivating waterfalls in the state! This moderately challenging trail reaches a there-and-back total of 9-miles. While a highlight of the hike is the spectacular 80-foot Jacks River Falls, the trail also features wildflowers, mossy river banks, and rocky paths waiting to be explored!

Escape to Nature

View from Blue Mist Heaven

If you are looking to Escape to Blue Ridge for the weekend, one week, or even one month, there are a plethora of trails in the Blue Ridge area for you to explore! When our summer schedules get hectic, a change of scenery and a good hike can be the perfect remedy to calm our minds. Before you head out on the trails, don’t forget to bring sunscreen, a healthy snack, and plenty of water!

We would love to see your photos of when you hit the trails this summer! You can find us through our Facebook page or tag us on Instagram @escapetobr and we’ll be sure to feature you!

A Blue Ridge November



These are the times when things start falling from the trees, unless you pick them first! That especially applies to apples, plums, and persimmons (as sometimes the fun is in the pickin’). As for the leaves, just let them fall. They’re pretty, and crunchy, and they add to the overall ambiance of this wonderful season!

It’s that time of year when fall colors lead to a true change toward cooler temps. Indian Summer is over, and now you can haul out those long pants, hiking boots, and sweaters for the cooler times. It’s also time for art shows, visits to vineyards, gathering with friends & family, honoring our Veterans, and fishing for autumn trout, just to name a few.

UPCOMING EVENTS & ACTIVITIES

Grumpy Old Men Brewing
November 1 – 22
LOCATION: Grumpy Old Men Brewing

Photo Courtesy of Grumpy Old Men

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!

November 1 – Travis Bowlin
November 8 – Highbeams
November 22 – Gregg Erwin

Music at The Blue Coyote
November 1 – 30
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!

November 1 Slickfoot
November 2 Disciples of sound
November 8 Topper!
November 9 Bottoms up
November 15 Fiction at The Blue Coyote
November 16 Breaking point
November 22 Taylor Hughes
November 23 BEATS Workin’s Ridge Rock in November
November 29 The Nati Lovejoys Reggae Band
November 30 Mind the Stepchildren

Farm to Trail – 30k and 11k Trail Run
November 2
LOCATION: National Forest – Charlie Creek Farms

Photo Courtesy of Dirty Spokes Productions

The distances sound daunting, 30k is no 10 and 11k is no 5 – but when you consider that this run will be managed for a maximum of 250 participants and the terrain will be all dirt trails through dense forest, you quickly understand that this is not your typical run around the block. The beauty of this part of Georgia, especially in the National Forest, and especially at this time of year, is breathtaking. Register soon – space is limited.

Veterans Day Parade and Memorial Service
November 9
LOCATION: Downtown Blue Ridge and Veterans Memorial Park

Photo Courtesy of Eddie Landry

Veterans Day is a solemn occasion, when we recognize those who sacrificed to keep America safe and secure, but somehow, with brass bands, flags waving, color guards leading a parade, and burgers on the grill, it’s also a cause for celebrating the strength of a nation! Thanks to those who have given so much. Celebrate and commemorate Veterans Day in Downtown Blue Ridge, but save the solemn for Memorial Park.

Namaste and Cabernet
November 9
LOCATION: Bear Claw Vineyards

Photo Courtesy of Yoga Over Blue Ridge

Here is your monthly opportunity to drink wine with no guilt.  A yoga workout, then drink wine. Easy! The guided yoga lasts about an hour. The wine tasting and wine drinking has no set time parameters.  Enjoy!

Tullie Brae Live
November 9
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Community Theater

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Community Theater

There’s the blues … then there’s the Tullie Brae BLUES!  This contemporary blues/rock-infused contemporary blues musician is a magician when it comes to setting tone and tenor for a fabulous night of jazzy swing. Her shows have been described as pure energy, a Louisiana Delta meets Memphis Belle kind of tribute to all the best of the genre.  She has appeared with BB King and Bonnie Raitt among others and she captivates all she comes in contact with. It’s gonna be quite a concert!

Holiday Show and Sale & Who Dun It? Mystery Art Fundraiser
November 16 – January 4 (Craft Fair)
November 16 (Mystery Art)
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association

Unique handmade jewelry, pottery, paintings, and gifts of all description are about to go on sale…let the holidays begin! This is just what artists have been working for and what customers of custom crafts have been waiting for, and it’s not just a weekend fling. This holiday show and sale begins just before Thanksgiving and lasts into January!

The WhoDunIt Mystery Art Fundraiser includes original art pieces, food, live music and lots of fun!

It’s a Wonderful Life
November 21 – December 15
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Community Theater

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Community Theater

But… but … but … It’s not YOUR town, Mr. Potter! Thank you, Jimmy Stewart for your one-of-a-kind interpretation of this Christmas classic, which will be ringing in your ears as you ring in the season with “It’s a Wonderful Life”. The Blue Ridge Community Theater’s performance of this memorable, and inspirational, timeless holiday story will be sure to delight young and young at heart!

19th Annual Mistletoe Market
November 23 – 24
LOCATION: North Georgia Technical College, Blairsville

Photo Courtesy of Artworks

An early entry in the holiday crafts bazaar scene, about a week before all the Black Friday craziness. You can choose to be more civilized picking and choosing of your holiday-themed local crafts and creations in jewelry, pottery, soap-making and wood crafts. Plus the local artisans are fascinating to talk to and learn about.  

Fly Fishing Class
November 23
LOCATION: Cohutta Fishing Company

Photo Courtesy of Cohutta Fishing Company

You’ve just gotta trust a fishing company to teach you how to fish. It’s what they do. This class covers all the basics and the advanced stuff you really need to know to catch fish plus descriptions of local waters (aka, fishing where the fish are), knots, rods, reels and casting techniques. 

Happy Thanksgiving!
November 28
LOCATION: All Across America

We are thankful for all of our past and future cabin guests. It’s our absolute pleasure to provide you luxury accommodations in the North Georgia Mountains. Our sincere wish this holiday season is that you and yours can come together, eat some delicious food, and be thankful for all we have been given in this life.

A Community Thanksgiving
November 28
LOCATION: Fannin County High School

Photo Courtesy of the Good Samaritans of Fannin County

It is a day of sharing good things, including a Thanksgiving meal, with neighbors and friends as well as anyone in need. It’s also a fundraiser to support future good deeds. Take out meals are available.

Blue Friday & Light Up Blue Ridge!
November 29 – 30
LOCATION: Downtown Blue Ridge

Photo Courtesy of Light up Blue Ridge

Black Friday, the all-out dash for discounts, just got softened a bit by Blue Ridge’s very appropriate “Blue Friday”, with special emphasis on fun, a parade, community caroling, Santa’s arrival, and the lighting of a 27-foot tall tree! Also be on the lookout for strolling characters, food vendors and entertainment in the park on Saturday, November 30th and every Saturday through December. Make your escape memorable and join us as Blue Ridge ushers in and celebrates the holiday season!

NEW HOMES ADDED TO OUR PROGRAM

A unique cabin retreat built to become the backdrop for large families to gather and create lasting memories. If you’ve had your heart set on a North Georgia mountain family vacation but haven’t found a rental large enough for your big family, group of friends, or church retreats Serenity Cove is the perfect cabin for you. With ample room for 16 guests, Serenity Cove is a magnificent private retreat that offers you all the amenities of a high-end resort, and so much more!

If the stress and hustle and bustle of daily life in the city has you yearning for peace, quiet and the beauty of nature, it’s time to escape to the Blue Ridge mountains, and Getaway is the perfect place to do it. On a hillside surrounded by towering trees, this tri-level cabin offers you the ultimate in privacy and relaxation, with a world of fun activities and adventure just a short drive away. You can walk down and hike back the half mile to the Toccoa River, and it’s four miles to tubing and whitewater rafting, five miles to Mercier Orchards, seven miles to downtown Blue Ridge and three miles to Copperhill and McCaysville.

What’s on your checklist when considering a North Georgia cabin rental? Chances are you want privacy, a great view, all the comforts of a home away from home and close proximity to downtown Blue Ridge. At Cloud Top Cabin, you’ll find that and so much more. This uniquely constructed mountain retreat, built of wood from Montana and decorated in rustic-chic style with brand new, custom-made furniture, is ideal for a large family or friends’ getaway—it can accommodate 10 guests in its four master bedroom suites. And the view? Step onto the wraparound decks to take in long-range mountain vistas that are especially spectacular at sunset.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Photo Courtesy of Jerry Mucklow

If it’s a Rainy Day in Georgia

When you escape to the mountains, you look forward to being able to explore the great outdoors, to take scenic rides through the Blue Ridge foothills and highlands, seek out a waterfall and enjoy an evening around the fire pit, sipping wine while the kids gorge on toasted marshmallows. Sometimes Mother Nature plays havoc with your plans, aiming her watering hose right at your coveted vacation spot. When this occurs, don’t let it keep you from enjoying what Blue Ridge has to offer. Lots of our best activities are under roof. Keep Reading.

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.

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!

Destination: Long Creek Falls



If you’re looking for a scenic trail with beautiful falls at the end, and to check off a couple high profile hiking trails while you’re at it, Long Creek Falls in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Blue Ridge, Georgia should make it to the top of your list.

An easy to moderate difficulty rating, Long Creek Falls is a two-mile round trip “out-and-back trail” that sits directly on the Appalachian Trail (AT), with access to both the Benton McKaye Trail and the Duncan Ridge Trail. Uniquely, the Appalachian Trail and Benton McKaye Trail run together as one route during this particular section of the footpath.

With full falls, even in the middle of summer, Long Creek Falls is one of the first attractions along the Appalachian Trail and one of the prettiest you’ll find not only in Fannin County, but also throughout all of the North Georgia Mountains! Exposed rock frames the cascading water, allowing for optimum sitting spots along the bank of the falls and the creek that it feeds. Before tumbling over one large rock face, Long Creek runs over smaller rocks, making the final drop into a shallow pool at the base of the falls even that much more impressive. Since the falls are only a short walk off of the AT, it’s a hot spot for thru-hikers who want a quiet place to rest their feet, take a nap alongside the river, or simply sit and take in the beauty of the falls.

Family & Pet Friendly

Over the years, Long Creek Falls has also become a destination for day hikers, particularly families and those with dogs who want a decent trail to visit on the weekends. In fact, it’s grown so much in popularity that the parking lot at Three Forks (the area you’ll drive to the start of the trail) is always packed, sprawling out down the dirt service road, especially on the weekends. So, if you’re wanting a less crowded view of the falls, going on the weekdays would give you more privacy to enjoy the trail and the falls once you get there.

For those with kids or grandkids, the falls are a huge hit since the shallow pool serves as the best spot to take a refreshing dip in the cool water, especially on those particularly sticky, southern summer days!

Take It Up a Notch

If you’re feeling especially ambitious after hiking Long Creek Falls, you can extend your hike another 8.6 miles and head toward Springer Mountain, the southern terminus for the Appalachian Trail. Though more difficult than Long Creek, the “out-and-back” from the trailhead at Long Creek to the peak of Springer Mountain offers one of the most diverse terrains on all of the Georgia section of the AT. Just follow the 2 x 6-inch white blaze north!

Are We There Yet?

You can hear that soft rustle of water from the start of the trail all the way through.

As far as getting to the trailhead goes, it isn’t a hard one to find. In fact, you can even plug the location into your GPS and it’ll take you right to the parking lot. From Blue Ridge, you’ll take Old Highway 76 and hop on Aska Road until it dead-ends into Newport Road. Take Newport Road until it ends and turn left onto Doublehead Gap Road. Doublehead Gap will turn into a dirt road, which you’ll follow until the three-way split. On the split, follow Forest Service Road 58 until you reach Three Forks, which is just over five miles.

Once you’ve made it, park your car, follow the trail across the road from the footbridge, and take in all the wonder and beauty of Long Creek Falls!

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!

Top 5 Blue Ridge Adventure Cabins



Sometimes it’s challenging to motivate for outdoor fun when it is so chilly outside. However, being active outdoors is a great way to enjoy the mountains in a whole new way. Not only is it less crowded, but there are no bugs to contend with! To make the most of your outdoor adventure and not be cold and uncomfortable, layer your clothing so you don’t wimp out and head back for the cabin. Here are a few inspiring North Georgia cabin rentals to keep you active in and around Blue Ridge.

A River Runs Through It

The Aska Adventure Lodge is located in the much sought after Aska Adventure area. Did you know Aska is the Cherokee Native American word for “winter retreat”? However, this cabin is perfect in every season. The Lodge has three bedrooms and three bathrooms and can easily accommodate ten people with king beds in the two master suits, a queen bed in the guest room, and two futons in the loft and game room.

This retreat is conveniently located less than five minutes from the quaint town of Blue Ridge, Georgia. Nearby access to the Toccoa River and Lake Blue Ridge is easily accessible. Our friend, Dell Neighbors, at Fly Fishing North Georgia would be happy to take you on a guided fly-fishing trip to the area’s many cold-water streams and rivers. When you return from a great day of fishing, you can throw your freshly caught trout on the grill of your expansive deck and reflect on the successes of the day. Cap off your evening by lighting the outdoor fireplace and relax on the deck as the sun sets behind the expansive Blue Ridge Mountains.

A Gallop and a Trot

Vista Ridge is a distinctive Georgia mountain cabin rental that offers the peaceful get away from your everyday life that you are craving. Named for the spectacular view that overlooks the Toccoa River and stretches all the way to Tennessee and North Carolina, this four-bedroom, three bath home is your perfect base camp to explore the Blue Ridge area.  To get a better feel for the view, saddle up a horse with our friends at Blanche Manor and go on an adventure through the unspoiled beauty of the mountain wilderness.

After a long day on the trails, soothe your sore muscles in the hot tub and watch the sun set behind the mountains. Back inside, turn on the gas fireplace and snuggle into the leather couches. Before your weekend is over, challenge your partner to a game of pool in the game room and make the looser take you out to a fabulous dinner at Harvest on Main.

Fly Like an Eagle

Eagles Landing is as bold, majestic and unique lodge that is the epitome of rustic elegance. This spacious custom home has seven bedrooms to accommodate nineteen guests. Situated directly on Lake Blue Ridge, this spectacular showplace has incomparable views of the surrounding mountains. The hand-carved spiral staircase spans four floors, from the unique loft down to the terrace level where you will find the “grown-ups’ game room”. There are three decks spanning the length of the home, a hot tub, swings, and a picnic table to enjoy views and privacy that cannot be found anywhere else.

Close by you can channel your inner eagle and zip through 165 acres of beautiful North Georgia mountain property with our friends at Zipline Canopy Tours of Blue Ridge. Here, you’ll experience the mountains from the treetops, you’ll zip into the valley, soar over pastures, and cross over Fighting Town Creek. From 75’ in the air you can squeal with delight take off on 6,000 feet of cable, crossing thirteen platforms and three walking bridges.

A Walk in the Woods

It’s impossible to walk in the woods and be in a bad mood at the same time. Fortunately, the mountains are rich with hiking trails to explore and Take a Hike cabin is the perfect home base. Beautifully situated on Mt. Pisgah, this cabin overlooks absolutely fantastic mountain views. It also has three massive decks to enjoy them and from where you’ll be inspired to plan the many and nearby open-air activities that surround you. This home has great sleeping accommodations for up to 7 people and is a perfect set up for two families vacationing together or a good-sized group.

Explore the Cohutta Wilderness just off of your back porch where you can pick from delicious blueberry and blackberry bushes for snacking along your easy hike to a waterfall, cave or to Colonel Magnum’s memorial. A quick ten-minute drive will get you to major hiking trailheads including Dally Gap, Jacks River, Benton Mackaye and Hemptop.  Whichever route you choose, you will find peace and tranquility both in the woods and back at the cabin.

A Winery, Why Not

You have a lot of choices in Blue Ridge cabin rentals, but if you’re looking for comfort, privacy, and great views, Wine Down is the perfect vacation destination. This beautifully appointed mountain retreat is the kind of place that invites you to settle in, wind down and relax with a glass of wine, like its name suggests. The cabin’s four roomy bedrooms beckon you with comfort, but the real appeal is outside. Wine Down’s covered outdoor living room on the main deck has a gas grill, table for eight, plenty of seating, and a 60” TV above the wood burning fireplace.

Wine down is located on Aska Road less than four miles from the shopping and restaurants of downtown Blue Ridge. A short drive will take you to the nearby winery at Serenberry Vineyards.  Sit back, relax, and enjoy a mountain wine tasting. Their Skeenah Red is a perfect Merlot-Cab blend, but if you prefer something sweeter, you should definitely try the Apple-lachian. Fruity and sweet, it’s like a little apple pie in a bottle!