State Parks Near Blue Ridge
With waterfalls, shopping, mountain biking and the railway, it is easy to visit Blue Ridge without ever leaving the area. However, if you’re on an extended stay, or calling Blue Ridge “home base” as you explore the vast North Georgia Mountains, then these parks and historic sites are worthwhile adventures.
Fort Mountain State Park (34 miles from Blue Ridge)
Fort Mountain State Park sits in the northwest corner of the state near the Cohutta Wilderness in Chatsworth. You’ll find magnificent hardwood forests, which play host to hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders all year long. The Upper Cabin Combo Trail is just over 1.5 miles, with excellent vistas from the ridgeline and beautiful views of the lake and Goldmine Creek, which was named for early gold mining. You can still see some of the old mining pits visible along the trail. Love to bike? The East-West Bike Loop is rated by many as one of the most beautiful and challenging mountain bike trails in the Southeast.
Vogel State Park (34 miles from Blue Ridge)
Vogel State Park is Georgia’s second oldest state park located in the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest. The Trahlyta Lake Trail is an easy one-mile loop and allows for one of the most popular pictures of the park. From the dam bridge, snap a photo of Lake Trahlyta with Blood and Slaughter Mountains behind it. The lake is open to nonmotorized boats and offers freshwater fishing. The family can also enjoy putt-putt, bike rentals and a seasonal swimming beach
Amicalola Falls State Park (35 miles from Blue Ridge)
Amicalola Falls is home to the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi River. Unless you’re up for a strenuous adventure, we recommend parking at the West Ridge Access Trail and making this middle section of the falls your starting point. The 1/3-mile paved walk grants you one of the best photo ops in the park.
If you are up for it, take the blue blazed trail down 165 stairs, and a total of one mile; this trail leads to a reflection pool at the base of the falls. It will follow the creek almost the entire way, with great places to play in the water and see rhododendron and other native flora.
Chief Vann House Historic Site (42 miles from Blue Ridge)
The Vann House was the first brick home in the Cherokee Nation, built in 1804 by the wealthiest gentleman at that time, James Vann. He left it to his son, Joseph, after his death. Joseph and his family were forcibly removed in 1835 due to the Indian Removal Act.
The home is now managed by Georgia State Parks and survives as Georgia’s best-preserved historic Cherokee Indian home. A guided tour allows visitors to see the house which features beautiful hand carvings, a remarkable “floating” staircase, a 12-foot mantle and fine antiques. Visitors may also enjoy the nature trail, see a movie about the property or enjoy a picnic.
Dahlonega Gold Museum (48 miles from Blue Ridge)
Contrary to popular opinion, the gold rush did not begin in California; it began in Georgia. A full 20 years before the rush to the west, thousands of prospectors flocked into the Cherokee Nation in North Georgia, marking the true beginning of our country’s first gold rush. Dahlonega thrived in the midst of this as home to a U.S. Mint, opened in 1838, that coined more than $6 million in gold.
Today, visitors of the Gold Museum can see a complete set of these rare coins, a nugget weighing more than five ounces, a large hydraulic cannon and nozzle used to blast soil from mountainsides, a film and gift shop. When you visit, take a close look at the brick work; you’ll see gold flecks in many of them.
Hardman Farm (51 miles from Blue Ridge)
The Sautee Nacoochee Indian Mound south of Helen is perhaps the best-known feature of Hardman Farm, but there is more to see and do here. A guided tour of the historic farmhouse boasts original lighting, an interesting telephone and climate control system. You’ll also see the bedroom belonging to Anna Ruby Nichols, the namesake of nearby Anna Ruby Falls.
Don’t miss the Helen to Hardman Heritage Trail. This one-mile trail follows the Chattahoochee River from Hardman Farm State Historic Site to Helen. Interpretive panels along the way share info on native plants and animals, Helen’s heritage and more.