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4 Blue Ridge Driving Tours For Nature Lovers

Many visitors to the Blue Ridge area love to go explore the outdoors on foot, but we know that hiking is not everyone’s favorite summer vacation activity. If you want to experience the beauty of the area (without working up a sweat), we’ve got you covered with some incredible driving tours. Always remember to bring trash bags with you if you’re planning on getting out of your car to hike in the woods, and use your best judgement when walking near any wet ground or rocks! Many of these tours bring you past buildings and bridges that are well over 100 years old and up to altitudes of over 2,000 feet!

 

For more specific driving directions, information about each stop on the tours, and a visual map, be sure to click on the link for each driving tour on the list!

 

The Twin City Discovery Tour starts on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway Line and leads you North along the winding Toccoa River to reach Horseshoe Bend Park, the perfect place for a picnic lunch or scenic photography session. You’ll then move along up to the Old Railway Bridge, the Toccoa & Ocoee River Outfitters, and McCaysville City Park, all of which split the river and provide amazing views.

 

Later in your journey, you’ll continue North to the border of McCaysville and Copperhill to visit the Railway Station and the Concrete and Steel Bridges, along with the Maloof Building, the Abernathy Building and Copperhill’s City Hall.

 

If you’re feeling more adventurous, the tour then leads you past the Tennessee Copper Company all the way up to the Ducktown Basin Museum and Burra Burra Mine. End the day with the final stop: the Ocoee Whitewater Rafting Center where you can get wet and enjoy the river’s wild (or not so wild) ride!

 

 

The Fannin County Town & Country Driving Tour has fewer stops, with more driving time in between destinations, but the country views are worth it and you’ll quickly become an expert on all that Fannin County has to offer.

 

You and your family begin the tour in the heart of Blue Ridge and then drive Northwest to McKinney Crossing and Higdon, then through the Devil’s Den to Cashes Valley! From there you will navigate your way back to the main highway and head North to Epworth, following by a trip all the way over the Tennessee border, but not before stopping in McCaysville!

 

Up in Tennessee, you will explore the Copper Basin along the Ocoee River before driving Southeast to the Mineral Bluff. Heading toward Lake Blue Ridge, you’ll then drive to Morganton where you’ll be greeted by amazing views of the lake. If you’re in the mood for water sports, relaxing, hiking or great food, you’ve come to the right place!

 

The last stop on the tour brings you South to Dial Valley and then ends near the Stanley Creek, just a few miles from Highway 515.

 

 

 

Get ready to drive through the mountains as you follow Highway 60 in a counterclockwise circle around Blue Ridge. Driving South on Aska Road, you’ll pass Harmony Church and keep driving until the first stop at the Deep Gap Trailhead. At the top, you can see Springer Mountain, which is where the Appalachian Trail begins!

 

As you continue on your journey, you’ll come to the next stop: the Toccoa River Rapids, a popular spot to view the pristine waters. You might even see some trout fishermen who are eager and competitive with fly fishing. Drive a bit further along Stanley Creek Road, and you’ll be able to get out at hike a series of trails (based on your ability level) to Fall Branch Falls.

 

On the next part of the tour, you’ll go back in time to see some of the historic buildings that Blue Ridge has preserved, including the Shallowford Bridge from 1920, the VanZandt House, the Cochran-Davenport House, and the Chastain House.

 

If you are looking to relax on the river, the Toccoa Valley Campground is a great place to rent a tube, kayak, or canoe and bring the tour to the water!

 

What we love the most about this tour though is that one of its final stops is at the Serenberry Vineyards outside of Morganton. It’s only open from Thursday-Sunday, but the barn is almost 100 years old and it now serves as a tasting room for the vineyard. End your tour at the Blue Ridge Lake and Dam with over 100 miles of shoreline!

 

Before starting your journey through the Cohutta Wilderness, be sure to check ahead of time that the roads are open. Start at the stunning Mercier Orchards that produce over 20 varieties of apples, along with cherries, berries, peaches, and wines. You’ll then pass by McKinney Crossing, a house over 100 years old; the Mr. Morian Baptist Church, which has been in operation since 1858; and Watson’s Store, which has also been on site for over 150 years!

 

With an altitude of 2,700 feet, Watson’s Gap will bring you up toward Conasauga then onto Dyer Gap, a named for a pioneer family that is still living in the area. If you’re up for a challenge, you’ll then drive to the South Fork Trail, which will lead you on a three-mile journey up to the top. Don’t forget your water, sunscreen, a picnic and a camera!

 

Jacks River Fields over to your left also provides picnic tables for your family to enjoy a lunch outside in the mountains along a pristine trout river. Continuing along the winding road, you have access to the Mountaintown Creek Trail (over 5 and a half miles), Three Forks Mountain (a 7 mile hike on an abandoned roadbed), and the Mountain Creek Overbed — with a view that is not to be missed!

 

You can also visit Betty Gap, which has trails that are a bit easier to navigate and follow the Conasauga River, and the Chestnut Lead Trail, a short hike that’s under 2 miles and easy to navigate for families. If you’re looking to spend a night in the wilderness, the Ballfield Group Camping Area and Lake Conasauga Recreation Area are the two final stops on this tour, both of which are excellent spots for camping!

 

You’ll then drive back in the direction from which you came to get back to the highway (and civilization)!

 

You can print out the maps or download them to your phone from the amazing Blue Ridge Mountains App!

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