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
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.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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!
I’m not sure
if I was in my right mind when I let my two cousins convince me to spend a week
with them in the cabin they rented in Blue Ridge last September. It started as
friendly banter between us at the annual 4th of July family reunion.
My Aunt asked me about my love life, and my cousins snickered. They accused me
of being a workaholic. I assured them that was not the case. They asked me how
much vacation time I had accrued at my job. I admitted to three weeks (It was
actually 5). They challenged me to join them on their annual fall fishing trip,
promised me the master bedroom, and said that if I’d agree to cook the fish
they caught, they’d foot the bill for everything, all week. That included my
choice of wines.
I contemplated. I made them pinky swear to the wines of my choice. My Aunt chided me when she kissed me goodbye that evening. “I look forward to hearing all about you great escape adventure”.
later I was in the back seat of a jeep sans shock absorbers, my suitcase
stuffed with ten books I had been collecting to read on the vacations I had
never found time to take and my cast iron frying pan (because frying fresh
trout in anything else would be a crime).
That evening when we arrived at Eagles Landing, all my trepidations about the “deliverance” experience were evaporated. This cabin was gorgeous. And true to their word, they dropped my bags in the upstairs master suite. I decided to explore the kitchen to see what might already be there to help me execute my “duties” in the next six days. I was impressed with the tools of the trade and took out my tablet to start to create my menu.
Jake and Jeff are twins. My Aunt and her sister (my Mom) were pregnant at the
same time. I was born a mere 34 hours after they were. At family reunions, we
were referred to as the triplets. Growing up we lived just two blocks away from
each other until we all left for college. Our families took summer trips
together for as long as I can remember. Vacationing with these guys wasn’t
going to be a new journey. In many ways, I was hoping it would be a rekindling
of such joyful past adventures. While deciding on the culinary options, I knew
what they’d eat, what they’d abhor, and what would make them gastronomically
morning I woke up to find the car keys on the counter and a credit card. The
note from my cousins said their guide picked them up and I should feel free to
take the jeep into town and shop for whatever was needed to keep us all well
fed and hydrated.
I had done
my internet research on possible provisions before our arrival. My first stop
that morning: Out of the Blue. This is one of the finest gourmet
shops I’ve ever had the pleasure of shopping, and now, on my cousin’s tab, I was
going to indulge for all three of us.
Sara, Out of
the Blue’s founder, who travels all over the world to select wines from small
producers, asked me my vin likes and dislikes. We also discussed my menu ideas
for the next week. I settled on wines from three countries, craft beer for the
boys from the region as well as from Europe, and a selection of cheeses that
she packed on ice for me so I could continue on my shopping adventure. I left
feeling accomplished and I also bid farewell with a promise to revisit before
heading back to the city.
stops were Blue Ridge Olive Oil Co. and Tupelo Tea, two sister stores that abut
one another. My morning rituals are always accompanied by at least one cup of
freshly brewed tea so the first door I chose was Tupelo
Tea. It was amazing;
a “candy store” for tea drinkers. I browsed and sniffed and tasted. After
having indulged in a cup of MOCHA NUT MATE, I left with pouches of PU-ERH
HAZELBERRY and CHINA MILKY OOLONG, as well as a pump jar of honey.
Next door, I found the Blue Ridge Olive Oil Co. to be more than irresistible. I wanted to taste-test every one of their 65+ olive oils and balsamic vinegar from around the world, but alas, the day was short and my palette overwhelmed. I had two salads and two appetizers on my menu that needed the right dressings. Two bottles of olive oil and two of balsamic seemed a bit excessive, but it was my cousins’ nickel. I added a small bottle of blood orange olive oil to the purchase and made a note that I was going to have to make a dessert with this that both of the guys would adore (recipe below).
While downtown, I found my way over to Huck’s General Store. I nearly didn’t find my way back out of there. This is the kind of place that our parents would find on past summer trips, knowing that we kids would be occupied for at least an hour deciding on how we were going to spend the five dollars they gave each of us. Then we’d negotiate with each other for the rest of the trip, swapping pieces of candy and taking turns wearing the raccoon hat. Even though the barrels of candy were overwhelmingly nostalgic, my adult tastes led me to the outstanding selection of rubs, sauces, jellies, pickles, and other canned delicacies. I took a long time deliberating before making my choices: pickled okra, habanero pickled garlic, and Huck’s sweet potato pecan butter. (recipes below).
Man (or in
this case “men”) can not live on just fish alone, so it was off to find some scrumptious
protein. I knew that easy grill meats were in order this week. These guys were
going to want to just kick back with a beer (or 3) after trolling the fishline
all day. I needed to keep it simple but succulent. I wanted a variety of
sausages so my research took me to Margo’s Gourmet Polish Kitchen. Not only did I find a great selection of European weiners
and sausages, but she also carried locally raised beef, pork. chicken and free-range
Now it was
time to take a lovely drive out to Mercier’s Orchard. Mercier’s started over 40 years ago as an apple
orchard, but the second and third generations of the Mercier family have
developed an amazing farm to table experience that draws visitors twelve months
of the year, seven days a week, and from all over the world. I decided that I
would have lunch in their café, and stuffed myself with a delicious salad and a
fried peach pie. That gave me all the energy boost I needed to continue on my
shopping throughout their huge market for the best of provisions.
Mercier’s fresh produce, homemade cheese spreads, and a hefty selection of hard
cider, I had just left myself enough time for my last stop of the day, Ingles Supermarket, Blue Ridge’s large grocery chain
store. Trip Advisor reviews gave Ingle’s nearly 5 stars. It didn’t disappoint.
I found all the rest of the staples on my list and made it home in time to sip
a glass of fine wine while I read three chapters of my first vacation book
before starting dinner.
Snakebite Cocktail: Mix the following in a chilled mug: Six ounces of a dark German Guinness ale from Out of the Blue. A pinch of salt. A tablespoon of liquid from the jar of Huck’s General Store pickled Okra. Stir. Now pour six ounces of Mercier’s Sneaky Jack Hard Cider over the beer mixture. Serve with Huck’s Pickled Okra, (slit down the middle and scoop out the seeds) stuffed with Mercier’s Pimento Cheese Spread. Shake a dash of Cayenne pepper over each filled okra.
Garlic Mashed Potatoes: I cheated and bought Bob Evans family size at Ingles. You can’t tell the difference after I spiced them up with three minced cloves of habanero pickled garlic from Hucks and drizzled with Garlic Olive Oil from Blue Ridge Olive Oil.
Trout: What can one do to fresh trout besides adding a light dusting of flour, salt, and pepper then pan-fry in a hot cast-iron skillet and a large slab of Amish Butter? Well, I topped each filet with a tablespoon of Sweet Potato Pecan Butter from Huck’s General store. The guys devoured it all.
Vegetable: Steamed shredded red cabbage with a side of Spice Apple Chutney from Mercier’s.
Blood Orange Olive Oil Pound Cake
INGREDIENTS (Makes one 9 inch loaf) 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for the pan 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon baking powder Pinch of salt 3 large eggs 1 cup of sugar 1 cup of Blood Orange olive oil 1/2 cup whole milk 4 tablespoons brandy (or bourbon) 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest 1 tablespoon grated orange zest 1/4 cup fresh orange juice ¼ cup of grenadine (maraschino cherry juice) Frosting Ingredients: ¼ cup of sugar ¼ cup of orange juice
PREPARATION Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter a 9 × 5-inch loaf pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and 1 cup of the sugar. Whisk in the olive oil, milk, brandy, lemon zest, orange zest, and 1/4 cup of the orange juice. Add the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. The batter is wet. It’s okay. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean. You will smell the cake when it is done. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool enough to handle, then flip over onto a rack to cool thoroughly. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup orange juice. Turn the cake right side up. Using a pastry brush, brush the glaze all over the cake. Allow the glaze to harden some before serving.
Not a cook? Call the Chef!
Local area professional chefs will come to your cabin, prepare an incredible meal suited to your tastes and dietary needs, and the best part is they clean up all the mess! We recommend you consider one of these amazing options (listed alphabetically because we love all 3!):
Steven Lash is a veteran of the the restaurant world having worked in some of the top kitchens in Atlanta for over 15 years. Steven’s food is best described as “inspired American cuisine” combining fine dining with local influence inspired by his extensive travel, passion for the outdoors, and hunger for understanding cultures.
With over 15 years of restaurant experience, this 33 year old Executive Chef takes pride in sourcing his produce from local farmers, and bringing the best quality to the table for every plate he delivers, so you know it’s fresh!
Using the freshest, often locally sourced ingredients, Chef Trey will create an imaginative menu for your family or fiends, all in your kitchen. Giving consideration to food allergies or dietary restrictions is something he takes into account when writing the menus.
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!