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THE SWINGING BRIDGE — BLUE RIDGE GA

The longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi.

Popular with day-hikers, Benton MacKaye Trail thru-hikers, and Toccoa River paddlers, the Swinging Bridge makes for a unique outdoor adventure in Blue Ridge. At 270 feet, the bridge is the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi River. A joint project of the USDA Forest Service and the Appalachian Trail Club, the bridge was erected in 1977. The Swinging Bridge crosses the Toccoa River and is located on the Benton MacKaye Trail and the Duncan Ridge National Recreation Trail in Fannin County.

If you are driving to the bridge, the ride will take you through the enchanted Wilscot Valley, past the historic and still operational Skeenah Mill, with glimpses of the river as you travel. Once you reach the parking area there are trails on each side of the river providing a short, but lovely, walk to the bridge. On the south and north approaches to the Swinging Bridge the vertical blue blaze of the Duncan Ridge Trail and the white blaze of the Benton MacKaye are present.

No one knows Blue Ridge and its many, many natural attractions like Nathan Fitts. Looking to buy in the area? Give Nathan, the top Re/Max agent in Georgia, a call.

 

 

DIRECTIONS
From the intersection of Hwy 515 and Hwy 5 (McDonalds) in Blue Ridge, follow Hwy 515 East approximately 4 miles to the traffic light at Hwy 60. Turn right and go to the stop sign; then turn left on Hwy 60. Go 1.5 miles into Morganton, then turn right on Hwy 60 South toward Dahlonega for 11.3 miles passing Skeenah Mill. Another .7 miles on the right is FS 816, turn right there and follow ROUGH gravel road about 3 miles to the parking area. Short hike down to the Toccoa River & Swinging Bridge.

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THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL — BLUE RIDGE GA

On August 14, 1937 the Appalachian Trail was opened as a “continuous footpath” that spans about 2,180 miles from its southern terminus at Fannin County’s own Springer Mountain to Mt. Katahdin in Maine.

While close to 2,000 hikers a year attempt to walk the entire Trail, known as a thru-hike, only a small percentage succeed. The total number of hardy souls that have actually made the complete hike from start-to-finish in one attempt — which usually takes between five to seven months — is fewer than 10,000.

But for those of us who are far less ambitious, the Trail still beckons, offering the opportunity to find serenity and to escape the pressures of daily life in just an afternoon.

Appalachian Trail Fun Facts:
Read more

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Dinner with a view…

Back and better than ever… Just when we thought the Lake Blue Ridge Marina couldn’t get any better, they kicked off the 2018 lake season with “The Boat Dock Bar and Grill,” the perfect place to relax and enjoy lunch or dinner with family and friends while enjoying the great outdoors and the beauty of Lake Blue Ridge! Locals and out-of-town guests, alike, The Boat Dock truly has something for everyone and is like no other restaurant in North Georgia. Their fun casual atmosphere is the perfect hangout day or night… and, really, what beats dinner with a view? With the best backdrop in town, you’ll delight in watching the magnificent sunsets over the mountains and Lake Blue Ridge from the patio, and you will even be serenaded by local musicians on the weekends! With 100 miles of shoreline, the 3,300 acre Lake Blue Ridge is known for its white bass and small mouth bass fishing… and now for “The Boat Dock Bar & Grill!”

For more information, check out their website: http://lakeblueridgemarina.com/boat-dock-bar-grill/

And while you’re spending your time on the lake, don’t forget your waterfront specialists, Nathan Fitts  & Team, who can help make your Blue Ridge home dreams a reality! (877)BUY-MTNS

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SWAN DRIVE-IN

The first drive-in theater opened in New Jersey on June 6, 1933, nearly 85 years ago. According to Drive_Ins.com, during the 1950’s – the Golden Years for drive-ins – the number of drive-in theaters across the nation exploded, reaching a high of 4,000 theaters in 1958. The 70’s and 80’s saw a marked decline in the number of theaters, owing in part to the expanding home video market, and today there are only 336 drive-in theaters in existence – four of them in Georgia.

Swan Drive-In Blue Ridge, GAHow wonderful that we in Blue Ridge are lucky enough to have one of those four theaters right here in town! I have many happy childhood memories of going to the Swan Drive-In with my sister and parents, and later as a teenager, piled into a car with a bunch of my friends. It is a pleasure to now be able to carry on that tradition with my twin boys, Logan and Grant.

The Swan Drive-In in Blue Ridge, Georgia was built in 1955 by Jack Jones, Sr. and W.H. Tilley, Jr.-known as “H.” Jack and H already owned the small town’s two theaters–the Rialto and the Royal, where ticket prices were 32 cents for adults and 15 cents for children and a Saturday matinee ran 25 cents for adults and ten cents for children. Because televisions were scarce up in the mountains, business was brisk at the two theaters.

Looking to serve an ever-growing audience hungry for movies, the two men seized on the idea of opening a drive-in theatre. This was no small feat in Blue Ridge, nestled as it is in the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Tracts of land level enough and large enough to accommodate the special topographical needs of a drive-in were scarce as hen’s teeth. Undaunted, Jack and H were able to lease several acres from the City of Blue Ridge. There was still a considerable amount of grading and fill to be done and once the work had begun, they encountered unyielding rock that only dynamite would budge. Discouraged and almost ready to scrap the mission, they were encouraged to keep on going by the excavators that were working for them. Finally, with the task of excavating and grading behind them, Jack and H were able to move forward with the relatively simple tasks of wiring for sound, paving, and building the concession stand and box office.

One final-and formidable-obstacle stood between the two men and the completion of their dream: the erecting of the movie screen itself. After piecing the screen together on the ground, the men had to go all the way to Atlanta (no easy task in those days before the Georgia Mountain Parkway provided a quick and easy way to make the journey!) to get a crane tall enough and powerful enough to raise the screen. For $100, Jack and H were able to get a crane for hire from Atlanta Steel Erectors. As an excited throng of locals looked on nervously, the pieces of the screen were lifted and pieced together, until, finally, the last section was carefully lowered into place. The on-lookers let out a relieved whoop and, with that, Jack and H’s dream became a reality.

H Tilley was the one to come up with the name for the drive-in. Prior to taking part in the Omaha Beach Landing in the Normandy Invasion during World War II, H was stationed in England. While there, he came to admire the graceful and beautiful swans that swam in the ponds and lakes around the country. He thought SWAN would be the perfect name for his newest theatre. His partner, Jack, agreed–it would be an easy name to make into a neon sign.

The opening of the Swan Drive-In Theatre was a watershed event in Blue Ridge, as it served as a beacon, drawing people from small communities all across the North Georgia mountains. And it continues to do so to this day, 63  years later, where this weekend’s showing is the double-feature: “Peter Rabbit” and “Pacific Rim Uprising.”

Postscript: H Tilley sold his share of the business to Jack Jones in 1959, who continued to operate it for many years. Mr. Jones passed away in 1980. H Tilley is retired and still lives with his family in Blue Ridge. Steve Setser now operates the Swan Drive-In Theater. He began working there when he was 15, and finally bought it in 1989. I would like to offer a special thanks to Mrs. H (Blanch) Tilley for so graciously speaking with me about the beginnings of Blue Ridge’s Swan Drive-In.

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BLUE RIDGE STATION

Here we grow again! Ground has been broken for Blue Ridge’s newest project: Blue Ridge Station. A mixed-use development, there will be retail space on the ground floor and loft living on the upper three floors. The building itself has one foot in the past and the other in the future. With a nod to Blue Ridge’s past, the building will look something along the lines of an old brick warehouse. Inside, however, you will find the most up-to-date amenities. The ground floor will consist of upscale retail spaces that offer open, light-filled shops with convenient parking. Located alongside the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, it will be easy to stop into one of the shops and eateries that fill the retail spaces.

Upstairs, there are three floors of lofts – 15 in all—each offering two-bedrooms and two-baths. The 10-foot ceilings provide plenty of natural light and an overall burnished glow from the gleaming hardwood floors and natural color palette. Each has a balcony that overlooks the storybook city of Blue Ridge, helping you feel a connectedness to the city and its denizens. Each unit comes with two parking spaces in a well-lit, secure area to the rear of the building and there is no public access to the lofts. There is also a large area for dog-walking — or cat-walking if that’s your thing! The kitchens boast furniture-grade cabinetry, farm house-style sinks and quartz countertops. There are three different floor plans to suit a variety of tastes.

The lofts are perfect for full-time living, vacation rental/retreat, or a get-away from the pressures of city life. You are right in the center of beautiful downtown Blue Ridge so you can easily enjoy the many restaurants, shops, and galleries that are right in your front yard.. You are also oh-so-close to the many natural amenities in and around Blue Ridge, like trout fishing and kayaking on the Toccoa River, hiking and biking on the miles of trails that criss-cross Fannin County, paddle boarding on Lake Blue Ridge. Enjoy the best of all worlds at Blue Ridge Station. For more information and to keep up with the progress of the project, give Nathan a call. He will be glad to assist you in anyway possible to make your Blue Ridge dreams come true!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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TUPELO TEA

 

Pu-Erh Poetry, Jade Oolong, Green Rooibos Bonita. Ancient manuscripts? Exotic locales? Nope…these are the names of but a few of the 100 or so varieties of tea available at Tupelo Tea in Sycamore Crossing in the heart of downtown. If you’re as overwhelmed as I was by the selection at first glance, you can’t go wrong with one of their best sellers: Apple Kiwi Blend; Blue Ridge Vanilla; Ginger Peach; or Irish Cream Black. Or let the hospitable and knowledgeable tea server, Carla, suggest something for you depending on the kind of mood you’re in. You can relax and sip a cup of freshly brewed tea in the warm ambience of  the shop, or, if you prefer, the tea is sold loose by the ounce and you can take your tea to be enjoyed at home. The shop carries tea accessories like elegant mugs and teapots with infusers, along with tea makers so you can brew your own teas.

Tupelo Tea also specializes in regional honeys, which come from Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina. With names like Arbol Pepper Infused Honey and Mangrove Honey, they are almost as exotic sounding as the teas. And, yes, they also carry Tupelo Honey. There is an impressive honey and tea tasting bar for those who would like to explore teas from around the world and and see how the flavors blend with the artesinal honey.

Owners Tom and Donna Harper’s mission is to “bring premium tea blends and quality honey to tea lovers who are always exploring new flavors.” If your looking for a gift for the discerning tea lover, the company ships throughout the continental U.S. Tom and Donna also bring the same sensibility to their shop next door — the Blue Ridge Olive Oil Company. Look for news about that great store in an upcoming blog!

Contact:
Tupelo Tea Inc
531 East Main Street Blue Ridge, GA 30513 706-946-TEAS (8327) www.tupelotea.com

Keep your eyes on this space for more informative blogs on the shops, restaurants, and galleries in Blue Ridge. Nobody knows Blue Ridge like Nathan Fitts, and he welcomes the opportunity to share his love for his hometown and knowledge of the area with you. Heading up the #1 real estate team in the entire state of Georgia, Nathan also welcomes the opportunity to share his knowledge of real estate with you. Let him help you find the property that is just “your cup of tea.”

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That moment when you realize this is your circus and those are your monkeys… well kind of.

It’s been a long week at work, and you’re scrolling through totally relatable Pinterest humor when you find the one that just sticks: “that moment when you realize… this is your circus and those are your monkeys!” You head on over to Facebook to share a good laugh, and, after you post, you start looking around at monkeys online, and there goes thirty more minutes, right? We can relate. You’re back to your last scroll through Facebook before bed, and suddenly you see Project Chimps come across your Facebook page, and you read that it’s located in Morganton! What? Morganton, Georgia? Fannin County? Wow! That’s just down the road!

 

So, what is this “Project Chimps” I’m reading about? According to their Facebook page, “Project Chimps was founded in late 2014 by a ‘super group’ of chimpanzee, nonprofit, philanthropic, and legal experts to solve the critical question of what would happen to the hundreds of chimps still left in private biomedical research. After months of negotiations with the research institutions, Project Chimps secured agreements to permanently retire the chimpanzees. This was a colossal step in the right direction, and we are proud and grateful to our partners for making this decision for the betterment of the chimpanzees in their care.”

 

Before you rush to Morganton to take a look at these chimps, you must first understand that it is not currently open to the public. They are, however, in need of volunteers. We encourage you to quickly visit their Facebook page, as they have their next orientation session this Monday, and they need help from folks with a variety of skills: https://www.facebook.com/projectchimps/ or their website for more information regarding this exciting opportunity or to sponsor a chimp: www.ProjectChimps.org.

 

Fannin County is just full of unique experiences. Along with finding you the home of your dreams, Nathan Fitts & Team welcomes the opportunity to share our local expertise with you. You never know what’s waiting around the corner…

Don’t go bananas, give us a call (877)BUY-MTNS

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Top Events in Blue Ridge for 2018

Blue Ridge is home to an amazing community of families that love amazing local food, cultural arts programs, scenic outdoor activities, and historical sites that transport you to another century. With an active residential population and a growing number of tourists and visitors, there are more reasons than ever before to visit year round. Top events in Blue Ridge, GA are happening each season, and we guarantee there’s something everyone in your family will enjoy.

February 2018

Fire and Ice Chili Cook Off:

Get ready! The 7th annual Fire & Ice Chili Cook Off is “so hot, it’s cold”! The festival unites chili cooking with competitive ice sculpting in one of the most unique events in Blue Ridge. With live music, ice sculptures and amazing chili to taste, you can buy a $10 card to sample all of the competition and vote on your favorite chili while checking out the ice carving demonstrations.

March 2018

St Patrick’s Day Parade:

Taking place on St. Patrick’s Day in 2018, one of the highly anticipated Blue Ridge 2018 events is the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, sponsored by The Boro Inn Irish Pub. Gather with other families in Blue Ridge to see musicians, local groups, organizations and vendors march through Blue Ridge to celebrate.

April 2018

Trout Festival:

On April 28, Downtown City Park will celebrate all-things trout fishing in the 3rd annual Blue Ridge Trout Festival! The festival is also hosts an educational seminar series where fishers and families can learn about conservation, fish hatcheries, equipment, tips for trout fishing and more. Meet other trout fishing enthusiasts and enjoy one of the most popular things to do in Blue Ridge!

Spring Fest Arts and Crafts:

For two weekends each April, the Spring Fest Arts and Crafts Sale at the State Farmers Market in Blue Ridge brings dozens of vendors together. The free event, which is sponsored by Fannin County Fire Explorer Post 401, showcases vendors’ homemade work in pottery, wood carvings and quilts, as well as homemade snacks, canned goods and other one-of-a-kind items.

Taste of Blue Ridge:

The annual Taste of Blue Ridge is a foodie lover’s dream. This special event each spring unites visitors and locals for truly exceptional culinary experiences. The Taste of Blue Ridge is all about local cuisine and fresh ingredients, highlighting some of the best dishes Georgia has to offer.

May 2018

Arts in the Park (Spring):

This very popular art show and series prove why Blue Ridge was named of the the top five art towns in Georgia and one of the top ten fine craft towns in the country! Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, this festival series attracts over 13,000 people who are able to see work from almost 200 artists.

Georgia Mountain Classic Car Show:

The Classic Car Show features over 100 cars with door prizes and trophies for many of the vehicles on display. For car fans, the local concessions and attractions make the day fun for the whole family.

June 2018

Independence Day Fireworks:

One of the most popular events in Blue Ridge is the Independence Day Fireworks show! Next year the show will take place on June 30 at the Lake Blue Ridge Marina, but you can also get spectacular views from the Dam and Morganton Point Recreation Area.

August 2018

Denim & Diamonds:

Benefitting the Georgia Mountains Hospice organization, this charity event held each August brings people in Blue Ridge together for a night out in their best denim pants, boots and sparkly bling. The night’s filled with music and dancing, along with a silent auction and dinner.

September 2018

Blues & BBQ Festival:

You can start the Blues & BBQ Festival off right by participating in a BBQ restaurant crawl the night before (and if you visit all participating restaurants and bars, you get into the festival for free!). Then spend your Saturday eating BBQ, tasting local beers, and listening to some incredible Blues music. A portion of proceeds from the festival also go to support Snack in a Backpack.

October 2018

Arts in the Park (Fall):

Similar to the event that happens in Blue Ridge each spring, the Arts in the Park each October highlights work from local artists and brings in more than 8,000 visitors each year.

Georgia Apple Festival:

Do you like apple pie? Apple ice cream? Apple tarts? Apple candies? Apple candles? Pretty much anything that apples could be for? You need to check out the famous Georgia Apple Festival that runs for two weeks each October, showcasing all things apple. There’s also a popular parade and antique car show.

Home Builders Showcase:

Taking place on the first Saturday in October, the Home Builders Showcase is a free event that features local architects, builders, and cabinet makers, along with lenders, realtors, insurers, and furnishing representatives.

Paws in the Park:

This annual event hosted by the Humane Society of Blue Ridge invites pet owners and animal lovers alike to participate in a pet parade, costume contest, photo shoots, and the Paws in the Park 5K through Blue Ridge to support the society.

Fall Festival:

Fall is one of the most beautiful times to enjoy the scenery and weather in Blue Ridge. This 9-day festival features performances, craft artists, demonstrations by local organizations, and flower shows. The highlight of the event though is the Georgia Official State Fiddler’s Convention.

November 2018

Light Up Blue Ridge (Saturday after Thanksgiving):

Mr. and Mrs. Clause will make their way into Blue Ridge on the famous train Saturday morning. Come out and see the Santa in the park, grab a bite downtown and take your place for the evening Christmas parade before the majestic tree lighting. It’s a magical tradition for all!

December 2018

Mountain Country Christmas in Lights:

The Mountain Country Christmas in Lights is a light show you and your family can walk through while enjoying caroling singers, seasonal food, arts & crafts, and other entertainment. Located on the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, this Christmas light show is the place to be throughout the month of December.

Whether you love fishing, food, music, crafts, parades, holiday lights, animals or all of the above, the top events in Blue Ridge in 2018 are for everyone in the family. Locals and tourists alike will love the social, cultural, and historic richness that Blue Ridge events have to offer, making a Blue Ridge vacation a perfect bucket list addition to your new year!

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Lifestyle & Views in Blue Ridge GA

The Real Estate market in the Blue Ridge GA area is continuing to grow. This is a great time to buy or sell a home as we roll into the winter months with many people looking to sell properties before the end of year and others looking to purchase in the same time frame.

There are so many ways to enjoy the area! To make the best of your move there are a few things to think about.

Blue Ridge Lifestyle

Most people when looking for Real Estate in Blue Ridge GA assume the only styles are traditional “cabin” and log homes. This is not the case! In Blue Ridge there are a variety of properties for sale to include lake front, mini-farms with rolling pastures, Toccoa River front, and so much more. These are all terrific options for buying real estate in the Blue Ridge area. All of these property types are part of the Blue Ridge lifestyle which is that of relaxed yet still modern living. Blue Ridge has a variety of outdoor activities such as rafting, tubing, hiking, boating, and scenic tours. This is only a small part of the Blue Ridge lifestyle as the community and city of Blue Ridge are equally as beautiful and full of adventure. Be sure to check out all of the restaurants & boutique shops – all are unique to this area. A great resource for where to eat, what to do, and where to stay is the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce.

Are you looking for lake front properties?

Lake Blue Ridge is accessible from both Morganton and Blue Ridge making it an ideal area for a variety of budgets and styles. The Lake Blue Ridge eastern side, primarily accessible from Old Highway 76 and Aska Rd., are typically modern rustic cabin style homes featuring a variety of amenities including gated access and deeded lake access. These properties are as unique as the leaves being built by a variety of custom home builders including Big Dawg Builders and High Country Builders.

The western side of Lake Blue Ridge, located primarily in Morganton, is an excellent option for those looking to purchase rental investments or live full time in a more budget friendly area. These homes are a variety of styles ranging from traditional to modern rustic cabins – a property type for every preference and budget range.

Lakefront properties while varied in style typically are on the market for very short times due to the limited availability and gorgeous views.

Are you looking for a creek or river view?

Sometimes creek front and river front properties, while still on the upper end of prices, are the most affordable type of waterfront real estate in Blue Ridge. These typically cabin style homes make for excellent investment properties having a high rental value due to the versatile nature. Creek and riverfront cabins make excellent honeymoon destinations and weekend fishing getaways. The Blue Ridge creeks and rivers range from small branches up to the Toccoa River and Fightingtown Creek – both of which are perfect for outdoor activities and peaceful rushing water life.

While property on Lake Blue Ridge is limited and nearing 100% developed there are hundreds of lots available on the variety of rivers and creeks. Land/Lots/Acreage can range from less than $50,000 to well over $150,000 depending on the proximity to town and what type/area/length of water feature is available. Many of the homes located on Fightingtown Creek and the Toccoa River are within 5-15 miles from downtown Blue Ridge yet boast privacy and seclusion.

What qualifies as a mountain view?

Most Real Estate in Blue Ridge GA feature some time of feature or view – the most coveted being the long range mountain view. Mountain views in Blue Ridge GA while plentiful are becoming more and more scarce for purchase as vacant lots are being purchased by investors and building companies to build new cabins. These views are classified as year round, seasonal, long range, and traditional.

The best combination for beautiful serene living are year round long range views which feature boundless mountain tops often extending into Tennessee and North Carolina. Most long range mountain views are found toward the top of a mountain but do not necessarily need to be far out of town. A great example of of property close to Blue Ridge with an endless view is 352 Endless View Rd – Check out the listing by clicking here. You can also see the Matterport virtual tour here!

Traditional and long range year round mountain views usually incur a higher price tag due to their highly coveted nature. An excellent way to stay toward the lower end of your budget while still getting a gorgeous home is to look for properties with limited mountain views such as seasonal or less than 30 degrees field of view.

Mountain view properties in Blue Ridge GA can be found in most every area and property type! This is great for buyers because you’ll find homes in most every price range and style. A couple great areas to check out are Cherry Log, Cashes Valley, and Cohutta Ranch!

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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!