A Trip to Blue Ridge, GA uncovers many different adventures.
Somewhere along the way when I-575 turns into Highway 515 you’ll to notice the difference. Not just in the change of scenery – though that changes as well, from the congestion of the city and suburbia to the sprawling, wide-open land dotted with barns and homesteads – but of a change in spirit and attitude. Day to day stresses and meddling distractions seemingly float up and out of your body, like the morning mists that swirl upward from the Mountain Laurels and Pines that accompany you on either side of the highway as you make your way to Blue Ridge, Georgia.
They call it the Gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains and Blue Ridge, GA is undoubtedly one of the best kept secrets for everything adventurous that North Georgia has to offer. In recent years Blue Ridge has experienced explosive growth, and with that growth has come some excellent outdoor adventure options. Don’t be afraid to try something new and exciting while you’re in Blue Ridge.
Adrenaline junkies and families alike should try one of the many real canopy and zip line tours offered by companies such as Raft One or Firewire. Ocoee Ziplines and Canopy Tour offers over a mile of cable, racing through the breath-taking views of the Cherokee Forest & Blue Ridge Mountains. This is perfect for large familes or groups. Firewire offers a variety of zips including a hair rising zipline over 1600 feet long and others with 90 foot drops. You’ll feel alive and it may take a while for your heart beat to quit racing, but believe me when I say that it’s worth it (don’t’ worry; you will be strapped in and perfectly safe).
If you’re visiting between March and October and you’re looking for even more jolts of adrenaline there are some really great Whitewater Rafting tours available from many different white water rafting companies on the Ocoee. The coolest thing about this area is that it was the site of the 1996 Olympic Games Whitewater Rafting course, these world-class Ocoee rapids will make you and your family or companions scream yourself silly.
Hiking and biking trails are more abundant in Blue Ridge than the kudzu that can be seen around the Southeast. The terrain in the Aska Adventure Area near downtown Blue Ridge, GA ranges from casual and serene to exhaustive and physically taxing. Several of these trails, like Falls Branch Falls and Falls Creek Falls, are off shoots of the 50 mile long Benton MacKaye trail, and lead to gorgeous waterfalls cascading down large weathered rocks. Mountain bikers and veteran hikers looking for a bit more of a workout can visit Stanley Gap, which is revered by many in Blue Ridge as one of the best biking trails in Georgia and surrounding states.
When I was in Blue Ridge it happened to be near the same time as the Tri the Mountains Triathlon. Athletes flock to Blue Ridge for the Tri the Mountains Triathlon, which takes place each summer and consists of three different challenging legs, from swimming to running to biking. There is also a plethora of tubing options, which is a popular choice for kids and parents during summer months as well, and at certain outfitters like Toccoa River Adventures you can get a tubing ride for as low as $6. Don’t forget to check out the Stand-Up Paddle board options on Lake Blue Ridge for even more fun.
Blue Ridge is also considered “The Trout Capital of Georgia” and with good reason. It’s well known throughout the community that the Toccoa River and other creeks like Rock Creek and Copper Creek produce trout of shocking sizes. I talked with river guide Gene Rutkoski and master bamboo fly rod maker Bill Oyster about fly fishing in this area. Both where very knowledgeable and assured me that even a novice could strike a big fish. Most of the local guides provide all the equipment and instruction to get hooked up on one of the many public or privet stream in North Georgia.
There’s so much to do when you come to town that it may seem a bit daunting at first, so I recommend checking in at a Blue Ridge Cabin Rentals company such as Southern Comfort before you do anything. The reason I chose this company was because of their diverse property selection and locations in Fannin County, and their central location to Downtown Blue Ridge. Not only are the properties within their program top-notch, but the staff is as good as it gets when it comes to booking the right rental for your needs. Here are a few rentals that we’ve stayed in and absolutely loved. Cardinal lookout is a secluded, 10 Acres and 10 minutes from Downtown Blue Ridge, close to the Benton MacKaye trail system. This cabin has easy access to all of the shopping and first-class restaurants in town. Lazy Bear Den deep in the Aska Adveture area. It is so private with close proximity to Upper River Adventures and the Toccoa River. This cabin was ultra-comfortable and perfect for relaxing after hiking. We actually hiked right from the front door 3 miles to the Toccoa River and 2 miles to Nontootla Creek. Woodland Lodge on lake Blue Ridge. This was the high cotton cabin that made us feel rich! Surrounded by national forest and less than 10 minutes from the Toccoa River Sandy Bottoms canoe launch this cabin had it all! We brought our canoes and paddled from the boat launch to the cabin. It took about 3 hours with stops, but it was a great adventure. The best part was navigating our way through the rapids near Aska Rd. One boat made it without spilling and the other walked around. It was nice to have all these options.
I’ll end it on this, Blue Ridge, Georgia has all of the charm and small-town appeal of Andy Griffith’s Mayberry, while still succeeding in offering everything a fully functioning vacation destination does. And it’s not too far from some of the larger cities in the Southeast - just a few hours from Alabama, North Carolina and South Carolina, and only an hour and a half from Atlanta and Chattanooga. So when you make your way to North Georgia Mountains. The only thing you’ll have to worry about is not wanting to leave. I’m ready to go back!