The Blue Ridge mountains are known for being the official start of the larger and infamous Appalachian Trail, that stretches 2,200 miles from Georgia up to Maine. But the region is way more than just the Appalachian Trail; Blue Ridge is hiking, tubing, relaxation, log cabins, roadside general stores, waterfalls, and just about anything to do with outside, adventure, but most of all – fun.
I recently took a weekend trip to Blue Ridge, and it was incredibly hard to narrow down everything I wanted to do into just one weekend and I’m already planning my next trip out there so I can squeeze even more into my Blue Ridge experience!
I’ll start off with lodging; I stayed in the town of Blue Ridge at Reid Ridge Lodge. The lodge was essentially a 70’s style, log cabin hotel, up on a big hill. It was perfect for me. Tyler even helped me splurge a bit on the hotel so I could get a jacuzzi in the room!
We originally tried to use Tyler’s Marriott membership but so be it, no Marriotts were even in the area! Most places in the area seemed to be cabin hotel style or straight up camping. Something very different for someone who grew up going on extravagant international vacations and staying at the “nice” hotels.
Your other option would be to get an Airbnb – something prevalent in any city and country now!
I stayed right in the thick of it all in Blue Ridge, GA and I would definitely suggest anyone looking to take full advantage of the hiking and outdoors, stay in or as close to Blue Ridge as possible.
So what is there to do in Blue Ridge? It’s just a mountain town out in Georgia, in the boondocks. WELL, let me tell ya!
While Blue Ridge may be just a tiny little city nestled into the mountains, there is no shortage of outdoor activities and roadside attractions to experience.
First, let’s talk about my favorite part of the area… the falls. SO. MANY. WATERFALLS. Just about every road you take has signs pointing to another waterfall. I hiked Falls Branch Falls, a small falls just a short half mile hike right outside of Blue Ridge. It’s a smaller falls and seems to be less trafficked but still a great sight for anyone looking to explore the waterfalls in the area. Also, an easy hike for anyone! The trail is also connected to the Benton MacKaye Trail – something we’ll get to later – for anyone looking to do a longer hike.
After Falls Branch Falls, I made my way over to Helton Creek Falls – a shorter trail and a bigger waterfall. While the trail is shorter and way more trafficked, the road to the trail was further outside of civilization, longer, steeper, and completely rock and gravel. I would HIGHLY suggest a good off roading vehicle – I took my Subaru Forrester and was still white knuckling the steering wheel.
Also, be aware of how your GPS is taking you to the falls parking. The falls parking is in the middle of the gravel road with two entrances, if you come from the east side, you may need to cross a creek in your car. I originally went this way and chickened out due to how high the water was from recent rains and drove back around to the west side near the entrance to Vogel State Park.
Once you park you can hear the sound of the rushing water and get a slight view of the falls. The hike itself to the falls was less than half a mile to experience the breathtaking views of the lower and upper falls.
I desperately wanted to hike more falls but time was not my friend, and either was my unbreakable $50 bill when it was only $4 to park. Good thing Georgia is only a short drive from Florida and I already have my list of falls to hike next time which include, Anna Ruby Falls, Ruby Falls, Duke’s Creek Falls, Cupid Falls, Desoto Falls, Raven Cliff Falls, and Blood Mountain Creek Falls. As you can see the list is long and this is the condensed list of falls I want to visit. There is no shortage of falls to explore so be sure to leave plenty of time for falls explorations and find what suits you best, whether it be three short hike falls in one day or one long hike falls.
If hiking to waterfalls isn’t your thing and you’re more about the long arduous journey to the mountain top or through a valley, don’t worry, the Blue Ridge has got trails for you!
The two main trails in the area are the infamous Appalachian Trail, a trail that will forever be known in history for it’s length and ferocity, a trail that draws in people from all over the world every year to hike it and maybe even beat some records on it! The other trail is the Benton MacKaye Trail, a shorter trail but definitely not an easy trail by any means.
Coincidentally, they both start – or end – on the top of Springer Mountain. Whether you’re hiking the Appalachian Trail, the BMT, or just itching for a good hike, Springer Mountain is the starting point for all. Along with it’s globally know trails, Springer also has hikes for the novice looking for either a day hike, an afternoon hike, or just a quick trip to the summit for the views. I opted for the shorter of the three and drove the six miles on a gravel road up the mountainside, once again, white knuckling my Subie, to do a quick two mile hike in the morning before my long drive back to Florida.
The parking area fills up quick so be sure to arrive early, plus the later in the day you go the more cars you will have to avoid on the windy, gravely, steep drive to the mountain top and back down!
If you aren’t looking to do Springer Mountain, or the Appalachian Trail, or the BMT, there are still plenty of hiking spots to hit. The Blue Ridge mountains are home to plenty of state parks – Fort Mountain State Park, Unicoi State Park, Amicalola State Park, and Vogel State Park – along with Chattahoochee National Forest.
All of these parks are home to more falls, hiking, or just a day of fun with your dog or family!
If you’re looking for a more adrenaline pumping type of outdoor activity or just something on the water, there is an array of activities to do along the Chattahoochee River and surrounding rivers. You can go tubing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and white water rafting.
While the mountains may be a major draw to the area, the little cities along the mountains are unique to themselves and deserve some major recognition. You can explore the city of Blue Ridge and take a trip on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, go apple picking in Ellijay – the apple capital of Georgia, get back to city life in Atlanta, or go for the Bavarian style city in Helen.
At first, you may question your hour long drives between the aforementioned cities, but the scenic highways through the mountains make it worth it. While driving along the Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway, I had to stop at every overlook to take in the views and snap a picture of the mountains. There are plenty of scenic byways and overlooks to hit while in Blue Ridge, you can even make a trip out of it!
While driving along all of the scenic country roads, be sure to stop at all of the roadside country stores! The people there are incredibly nice and you can find all sorts of hidden treasures within the little shacks housing their own specialty snacks.
Not only is Blue Ridge beautiful, it is just a short ride from many big metropolitan areas which makes it accessible to just about anyone. While we’re all longing for a getaway, the Blue Ridge mountains are the perfect combination of being out in the wild, off the grid, while still being close to the big city.
Let me know in the comments your favorite places to visit in and around Blue Ridge!
As always, follow along on social media to see where I’ll be next!
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