Starting Points for Scenic Drives in the Mountains
Scenic drives and byways nearby in the mountains of Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee
1 Mountains & Countryside
Beautiful drive through the mountains and countryside surrounding Blue Ridge, Dial and Morganton in Fannin County. A great introduction to the area, including Lake Blue Ridge and the Toccoa River. Available for download at www.blueridgemountains.com/selfguidedtours.html or contact the Welcome Center at 800-899-MTNS.
2 A Ride to the Cohutta Wilderness
Blue Ridge to Ellijay
A three to five hour trip from Blue Ridge through a dense hardwood mountain forest to a beautiful secluded mountain lake. For skilled drivers, four-wheel SUV preferred. Download
map at www.blueridgemountains.com/selfguidedtours.html or contact the Welcome Center at 800-899-MTNS. A word to the wise… These roads may be closed, so before you depart call the USFS at 706-695-6736 for latest road conditions.
3 Daytrip to Dahlonega
This day trip, originally produced by the U.S. Forest Service, is beautiful any time of year, but is especially beautiful in the fall. The drive begins and ends at the intersection of Georgia Highway 5 and 515 in Blue Ridge. Round trip mileage is 102.4 miles and approximate driving time without stops is three to four hours. Download at http://www.blueridgemountains.com/selfguidedtours.html or contact the Welcome Center at 800-899-MTNS for printed maps.
4 Ocoee Scenic Byway
Hwy 64, Ducktown to Cleveland, Tenn.
Follow the nation’s first Scenic Byway as it winds through the Cherokee National Forest alongside the Ocoee River, past the Ocoee dams, flume line and powerhouses and Parksville Lake. Ocoee Whitewater Center is also on the way. For more information, call (423) 496-5197, or see www.byways.org.
5 Cherohala Skyway
Hwy 165, Tellico Plains, Tenn. to Robbinsville, N.C.
Winding through scenery that rivals the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Cherohala Skyway crosses through the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests, providing spectacular mile-high vistas and brilliant fall foliage. 1 ½ to 2 hour drive on the Skyway’s 40 miles. (800) 245 5428, www.cherohala.org.
6 Nantahala Gorge
Hwy 19/74, Murphy, Andrews, Nantahala
Enjoy a pretty drive from Murphy, N.C. to the Nantahala Gorge along Highway 74 north. The Gorge is a 8.5 mile stretch beside the nationally known whitewater Nantahala. Developed put-in and take-out spots, picnic tables and viewpoints are along U.S. 19/74. Private outfitters offer guided whitewater rafting canoeing and kayaking.
7 Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway
From Blairsville take Hwy. 129/19 south to Hwy. 180 (turn left) then Hwy. 348 is just a mile away and is marked as the Richard Russell Scenic Highway. From the breathtaking views atop Brasstown Bald to the fertile valleys and numerous waterfalls, scenic wonders fill this region of northeast Georgia. For more information, check out: www.fhwa.dot.gov/byways/byways/13739/maps.
8 Cohutta-Chattahoochee Scenic Byway
Ft. Mountain State Park, Chatsworth
Beginning at historic Prater's Mill in Whitfield County, this byway rolls past pastoral lands, quiet country roads, views of the Cohutta Mountains and the Chattahoochee National Forest. From Blue Ridge, take 515 South to Ellijay, then Hwy 52 to Fort Mountain, beginning of the byway. For more info, see www.gascenicbyway.org/.
9 Southern Highroads Trail
Multiple starting points in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee. The Southern Highroads Trail winds its way through the Appalachian Mountains in four states. Experience the scenic beauty, diversity and rich history found along the way as you travel the 360-mile route. The entire trail takes about three days to complete, and includes the Georgia cities of Blue Ridge, Ellijay, Chatsworth, Blairsville, Young Harris, Hiawassee, Clayton, Dillard & Mountain City. www.southernhighroads.org
10 Georgia Mountain Parkway
Highway 515 Jasper to Hiawassee
Georgia’s favorite scenic drive follows Interstate 575 from Atlanta northward on the Georgia Mountain Parkway. Along the way the route offers beautiful mountain views, wildflowers, apple orchards, festivals, antiques and galleries and a wealth of opportunities for outdoor exploration and adventure. www.aboutnorthgeorgia.com/ang/Georgia_Mountain_Parkway
11 Blairsville to Turner’s Corner
Follow Hwy. 129 south from Blairsville toward Turner’s Corner for twisting and turning scenic ride. Take a side trip to Vogel State Park, Mountain Crossings at Walasi-Yi on the Appalachian Trail, and Desoto Falls.
12 Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway is more than a scenic byway. It is a spectacular 469 mile route from North Carolina to Virginia through the Great Smoky Mountains. The parkway begins approximately 1 ½ hours from Blue Ridge in Cherokee, N.C. Take Spur 60 to Murphy, N.C., then Hwy 74/19 north through Andrews and the Nantahala Gorge. www.blueridgeparkway.org
13 Amicalola Falls State Park
The word Amicalola comes from a Cherokee Indian word meaning “falling waters.” These popular 729-foot falls are the tallest east of the Mississippi River. An eight-mile approach trail also leads from the park to Springer Mountain, the southern end of the Appalachian Trail.
Directions: From Blue Ridge, take Hwy 515 south to Hwy 52 outside of Ellijay. Follow Hwy 52 to the left fork toward Dahlonega. For more information, call 706-265-4703. There is an optional trail that provides stroller and wheelchair access to this trail. Inquire at gate.
14 Fort Mountain State Park
A scenic drive on Highway 52 near the Cohutta Wilderness leads visitors to this mountain getaway. From Blue Ridge, take 515 South to Ellijay, then Hwy 52 to Fort Mountain, located 8 miles east of Chatsworth via Ga. Hwy 52. Hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders will find some of the most beautiful trails in Georgia, winding through hardwood forest and blueberry thickets, crossing streams and circling a pretty lake. Hikers can also explore a stone fire tower built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and an ancient rock wall which stand on the highest point of the mountain. The mysterious 855-foot-long wall is thought to have been built by early Indians as fortification against more hostile Indians or for ancient ceremonies. For information, call 706-695-2621.
15 Old 76 to Blairsville
A scenic drive along a 2-lane country road over Lake Blue Ridge Dam and through rolling farm land. From Blue Ridge turn right off Highway 515 onto Windy Ridge Road and make a left on old Hwy. 76 at the 4-way stop. Follow the road 21.2 miles to Blairsville, where you can turn around and follow the same route, or take the 4-lane Hwy. 515 back to Blue Ridge.
A Word to the Wise…
The law of the forest is “leave no trace.” Please pack in all you will need and pack out all your trash. If you build a fire, never leave it unattended. Use good judgment when hiking, particularly around waterfalls where rocks are often wet, moss covered and slippery. If hiking during hunting season, wear a brightly colored vest.
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