Rich Mountain Wilderness
Rich Mountain Wilderness Area lies between Blue Ridge and Cherry Log and offers a multitude of well marked hiking and biking trails crisscrossing through the forest. Hikers will find mountain streams and waterfalls. The old growth forest is home to a variety of wildlife indigenous to this area.
Directions- From Blue Ridge go South on Aska Rd. about 8 miles and turn right on Stanley Creek Rd. Follow to where the pavement ends. The Forest Service land starts 1/10 of a mile after the pavement ends where you will find the first of many trails this one goes off to the right and leads to a picturesque waterfall.
Amicalola State Park
One of North Georgia’s most popular state parks Rich Mountain offers outdoor enthusiasts plenty of things to do. Amicalola, meaning “tumbling waters,” in Cherokee is an appropriate name for these impressive 729-foot falls, the tallest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River.
There is an 8.5 mile trail which leads from the park to Springer Mountain South of Blue Ridge, the southern end of the 2,135-mile Appalachian Trail. However, numerous other trails are available for shorter journeys. A beautiful lodge at the top of the mountain is popular with guests who prefer hotel-type comforts, while a 5-mile hike leads to more remote accommodations at the Len Foote Hike Inn. Be sure to stop by the visitor center to see nature displays, live exhibits and a gift shop.
Cohutta Wilderness Area
In 1975 the United States Congress designated the Cohutta Wilderness Area which now has a total of 36,977 acres, it contains approximately 35,268 acres in North Georgia. Tennessee contains approximately 1,709 acres.
Cohutta Loop – Almost 70 square miles of North Georgia wilderness is surrounded by a drive many refer to as the Cohutta Loop. For the outdoor enthusiast, this is heaven. The drive provides access to the largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi, abounds with walking trails and wildlife, and features occasional campgrounds as it follows the perimeter of the wilderness.
To call this road a loop is misleading, for there is no road across the northern end of this federal land. The United States Forest Service considers the loop a ragtag of roads that it refers to by number. Along the way the road offers babbling mountain streams nearby, climbing steadily to spectacular vistas along the southern and southwestern end of the wilderness.
Cabin owners and visitors will find a number of hiking trails including the Beech Bottom and Jack’s River Trail. Several designated camping areas and scenic view drives, the Lake Conasauga Recreational Area, with camping and a picnic area.
Fort Mountain State Park
Fort Mountain state park derives its name from an ancient 855-foot-long rock wall which stands on the highest point of the mountain. The wall is thought to have been built by Indians as fortification against other more hostile Indians or for ancient ceremonies but no one really knows for sure.
Fort Mountain is just Northwest of Ellijay out Hwy 52W and is about 30 minutes from Blue, and is located in the Chattahoochee National Forest. This park offers a variety of outdoor activities including hiking, and mountain bikers and horseback riders will find some of the most beautiful trails in North Georgia. Most wind through hardwood forest and blueberry thickets, occasionally crossing streams and providing spectacular vistas. During the summer, children will enjoy the sand beach located on a clear mountain lake, as well as miniature golf and pedal boat rental.
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
bout 1 hour North of Atlanta located in the beautiful Mountains of North Georgia in the Chattahoochee National Forest, the town of Blue Ridge awaits you and your family. Blue Ridge is known for friendly folks and quaint downtown area, it’s definitely a place to visit. Blue Ridge has been called the “antique capital” of North Georgia. Where you can fulfill your dream of owning a log cabin, climb a mountain, hike a trail and ride the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.
The train route follows the beautiful Toccoa River on a 26-mile round trip through historic Murphy Junction. The Blue Ridge railroad was built over 100 years ago and is the only mainline railroad excursion service based in Georgia.
Running once daily during the week and twice on weekends your trip will begin at the depot in downtown Blue Ridge. The trip includes a stop in McCaysville, and Copperhill, which permits passengers to disembark and have an hour and one half layover, allowing time to have lunch, do some shopping, or just to explore the two cities. (Sunday’s layovers are only 1 hour.) Each round trip takes approximately 3 hours.
The last passenger train to operate over this line was a one-time special trip that ran in the 1960’s. The route was originally built as the narrow-gauge Marietta & North Georgia Railroad. Construction began in Marietta in 1877 and reached Blue Ridge in 1886.
Tickets and Information:
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Swinging Bridge on the Benton MacKaye Trail
One of the most popular destination for our log cabin owners is the Swinging Bridge on the Benton MacKaye Trail. Spanning the Toccoa River this 265 foot long bridge is the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi River and is one of the most scenic spots in North Georgia.
In 1976 the Forest Service, along with the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club replaced a dangerous ford of the Toccoa River in this area. The bridge was completed in 1977 and has become a landmark in Fannin County and a popular camping spot in the Blue Ridge Wildlife Management Area.
The Benton MacKaye Trail and the swinging bridge are only open to foot traffic. Camping by the Toccoa River on either side of the river is extremely popular and it is unmanaged. Plan on a weekday visit to secure a site.
Cohutta and Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains
The Appalachians Mountains can be described as a series of mountain ranges that extend from Maine to Alabama. The Blue Ridge Range comprises the majority of the Appalachian Mountains and these mountains formed the greatest barrier to the westward movement of American settlers until the turn of the century.
West of the Blue Ridge range is a second series of mountains that runs from West Central North Carolina to Fannin County, Georgia. In North Georgia, this range is known as the Cohuttas; further north they are called the Smoky Mountains. The Cohuttas and the Smokies are part of the Blue Ridge province, yet they are actually geologically distinct from the Blue Ridge Mountain Range and quite a bit older.
lue Ridge, Georgia, is the Gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Cohuttas rise in the west and the Blue Ridge to the south and east. Many Cherokee would farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains, leaving them during the winter and staying at the Cherokee village of Aska, or “winter home.”
The Blue Ridge Mountains were considered by the early settlers as an area rich in natural resources. Agriculture was the major industry in the area, However, lumber and mining contributed significant income to the North Georgia settlers. Once the lumber had been harvested the federal government bought quite a bit of North Georgia Mountain land to create the Chattahoochee National Forest. Today, more than 100,000 acres of land around Blue Ridge is managed by the United States Forest Service.
Blue Ridge is known as the Gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains. People from Atlanta, Chattanooga and the entire Southeastern United States think of Blue Ridge, Georgia as the place to start their Blue Ridge Mountain vacation because of the multitude of outdoor recreational opportunities, and easy access to the North Georgia Mountains.
Lake Blue Ridge
Lake Blue Ridge is fed by the Toccoa River which flows for about 15 miles north of the dam. Lake Blue Ridge is a TVA controlled lake, built in the late 20’s and early 30’s, approximately 1 hour from Atlanta with over 100 miles of lake shoreline. Located near the town of Blue Ridge outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy boating, swimming, hiking camping, picnicking, water skiing and fishing with many public access points surrounding the lake. The Chattahoochee National Forest surrounds 80% of this 3,290 acre lake and protects it from being over developed.
The lake is known for it’s great fishing and boating. Fishermen will enjoy catching bluegill, walleye, and small mouth bass, and even an occasional trout, but what makes the area popular with anglers is that Lake Blue Ridge is the only lake in the state where you can battle the robust Muskie, a large game fish of the pike family. Also it is the only lake south of the Great Lakes where Walleye are caught.
The tailwater of the reservoir provides great trout fishing. At the Tennessee state line the river changes its name to the Ocoee and turns into one of the Southeast’s most spirited whitewater streams for rafting and kayaking Home of the Centennial Olympic Games kayaking venue and visitors center.
Work began on the Blue Ridge dam in North Georgia in 1925 and was completed in 1931. Known at the time as Lake Toccoa the dam began producing hydroelectricity for the region. Lake Toccoa was renamed to “Lake Blue Ridge” in 1934. The Lake Toccoa Dam was the largest earthen dam in the Southeast. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) owns approximately 18 miles of shoreline, and operates the Lake Blue Ridge Dam.
Pontoon boats and jet skis are available for rent or sale at the Lake Blue Ridge Marina, on the northern side, near the dam. Lake Blue Ridge Marina is a full-service marina with boat and gas dock, fishing, water-skiing, store, handicap access. It is the only commercial outlet on the lake for gas, food, and supplies. It also provides one of several boat launch ramps. Others boat launches are at Morganton Point and the more remote Dry Branch Recreation Area. 55 campsites are located in the area surrounding the Lake Blue Ridge. Many of the camp sites have grills, picnic tables and tent pads, bathrooms and showers; no hookups provided for RV’s. Hikers can see beautiful views of the lake as they hike the half-mile loop trail that follows the shoreline.
Carters Lake in Ellijay
Formed from the bed of the Coosawattee River between Ellijay and Carters, Georgia, this 3,000+ acre lake offers recreational opportunities for fishermen, hunters, campers, boaters, bikers, and hikers. Long before the creation of Carters Lake, this portion of the Coosawattee was known as one of the best whitewater rapids in the eastern United States.
Carter’s Lake has become popular with fishermen, hikers, mountain bikers, and campers since it’s completion in the late 70’s. Today the lake, deepest of all lakes in the state of Georgia, boasts good lake fishing, a remote nature and rich cultural and natural history.
The lake was originally designed to help control the annual flooding of the Etowah River Valley. The secondary purpose of the lake is power generation. The main body of the lake is a thin strip with long fingers running deep into the mountains making this an excellent place to go canoeing, kayaking, boating and fishing. Because of its remote nature, the Carter’s lake and surrounding land offer more outdoor activities than some other North Georgia Lakes. A large wildlife management area gives hunters a spectacular array of medium to large animals. Fishing is also a popular pastime. There are no dock allowed on the lake making it the most natural looking lake in North Georgia.
Toccoa River Canoe Trail
The Toccoa River Canoe Trail is perfect way to spend a relaxing day on the Toccoa River. It is suitable for beginners who are looking for a few rapids and some beautiful scenery along the way. This section of the river is also popular with float fishermen looking for rainbow and brown trout. You can launch your canoes at the Deep Hole Recreation Area, off Hwy 60 south of Blue Ridge and north of Suches. Launch fees and parking costs $5 per vehicle. The canoe trail begins on the north bank of the river, flowing west and north toward Blue Ridge. The entire float from Deep Hole to Sandy Bottoms is 13.8 miles.
Sections of the Toccoa River Canoe Trail include:
Deep Hole to Rock Creek Road Bridge: 1.5 miles with good fishing.
Rock Creek Road Bridge to Margret: 1.0 miles
Margret to Butt Bridge: 5.8 miles with rapids, campsites and a suspension bridge
Butt Bridge to Dial Bridge: 1.5 miles
Dial Bridge to Sandy Bottoms: 4 miles
If you’re looking for a great adventure on your next visit to North Georgia and want to experience whitewater rafting, you’ve come to the right place! You will find has a number of quality rafting companies within 30 to 40 minutes of Blue Ridge. The whitewater rafting companies listed below offer a large variety of river rafting trips, from day runs to multi-day whitewater rafting vacations. There are rafting trip available to meet your level of experience and sense of adventure.
Appalachian Rivers Raft Co. 828-321-3815
Brookside Campground 828-321-5209
Carolina Outfitters Whitewater Rafting 828-321-2282
Mountaintown Outdoor Expeditions 706-635-2524
Nantahala Outdoor Center 800-232-7238
Ocoee Adventure Center 423-496-4430
Ocoee Rafting LLC 423-496-3388
Rafting In The Smokies 423-496-5608
River Runners Retreat Inc. 828-321-2211
Rolling Thunder River Co. 800-408-7238
Southeastern Expeditions Inc. 800-868-7238
White Water Express 423-496-9126
Ocoee Whitewater Park
The Ocoee Whitewater Park was the location of the Canoe, Kayak and Slalom events for the 1996 Olympics. The Whitewater Park operates from June to September. The Toccoa River which becomes the Ocoee River at the Tennessee State Line is the main source of water for this exciting adventure. Rafters, canoer’s and kayakers all journey to the whitewater center located in the Ocoee River Gorge off Hwy 64 about 6 miles from Ducktown.
Visitors will enjoy other activities besides whitewater rafting including a one-mile hiking trail which crosses a 330 foot suspension bridge and circles the park. The trail is entirely accessible for those who are physically challenged. There is an additional 20 miles of trails for avid hikers and mountain bikers, including the Bear Paw Trail and the Chestnut Mountain Trail, both of which are loops. A recent addition, the Thunder Rock Express, has received a lot of positive comments from bikers.
The quaint little town of Ellijay, lies just 80 miles north of Atlanta and 65 miles south of Chattanooga, which is rapidly growing but has not lost that small town feeling! Known as the apple capital of Georgia, however, there’s much more to the area than apples. Ellijay is home to some of the most beautiful mountains and rivers in North Georgia for boating, fishing, fly fishing, water skiing, hiking, cycling, kayaking, picnicking, hunting and camping.
Ellijay is beautiful any season of the year. In the winter, you can expect a light dusting of snow. In the spring, you won’t want to miss the dogwoods, mountain laurels, wild azaleas and rhododendron. In the summer, it’s the perfect time to hit the lakes and rivers. In the fall, there’s the gorgeous color of the autumn leaves, the apple festival, fried apple pies and boiled peanuts.
Ellijay and the North Georgia Mountains evokes a sense of peace and tranquility in every visitor. There’s a real sense of down home Southern hospitality here with the cheerful greetings from friends and strangers alike. Although there is an ongoing debate about what the name “Ellijay” means, we are pretty sure it just means “Home”.
The Town of McCaysville
Many Blue Ridge Real Estate customers and visitors make it a point to visit the town of McCaysville, chartered in 1904, is located on the North Georgia-Tennessee state line adjacent to Copperhill, Tennessee, its twin city. You can actually have one foot in North Georgia and one foot in Tennessee when you cross the Blue Line marking the place where the states meet. Toccoa Avenue (North Georgia) turns into Ocoee Street (Tennessee) while the Toccoa River becomes the Ocoee River under an old iron bridge built in 1911 and still standing.
There are a number excellent shops and antique stores or you can sit in a café and have lunch on the bank of the Toccoa River. Discovery of copper occurred in 1843 in an area now known as Ducktown. By 1847, it is recorded that 90 cakes of ore were transported over poor trails to the railroad at Dalton. In the spring of 1899 the Tennessee Copper Company began smelting works near McCays and the town grew rapidly. Grading for the company railroad began and a shaft was sunk for the Burra Burra Mine in Ducktown. Learn more about the mining history of the Copper Basin at the Burra Burra Mine historic mine site in Ducktown.
Today, mining has ended and the towns of McCaysville and Copperhill rely more on tourism. The 1996 Olympic Games increased tourism in the area when the Ocoee Whitewater Center was built for the Olympic kayak competition. The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway has increased tourism in the area, and today Toccoa-Ocoee Street is lined with antique and specialty shops, art galleries and eateries.