Summer Break Bucket List in Blue Ridge, GA

With summer break right around the corner, families are beginning to get excited about warm weather vacations filled with fun, memorable activities. While most states have lifted stay-at-home orders, many folks are ditching the hot, crowded beaches for a serene family vacation in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Here, you can avoid crowds and still enjoy an unforgettable vacation jam-packed with good times and new discoveries. We’re talking water adventures, zipline tours, open air train rides, and getaways at Blue Ridge cabin rentals – all located about 1.5 hours north of Atlanta.

With so much to see and do in Blue Ridge, you might not know how to start planning! To make your life easier, we have put together a 2021 summer break bucket list, so you can make the most out of your mountain vacation.

So, go ahead and get excited – your fun-filled, summertime escapade in Blue Ridge will be here before you know it!

Ride the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

One of the most popular attractions in Blue Ridge, the scenic railway is a family-friendly adventure that takes riders on a four-hour round-trip tour across the Tennessee border. With a two-hour layover, you can visit local shops in McCaysville/Copperhill, grab a bite to eat, or rest for awhile by the river. With a two-hour layover, you can visit local shops in McCaysville/Copperhill, grab a bite to eat, or rest for a while by the river. Be sure to snag tickets on an open-air car for the complete summer experience!

Spend a Day at the Lilly Pad Village

Open every day from 11AM-4PM, the Lilly Pad Village is an awesome adventure for the whole family to enjoy. Located in the heart of the Aska Adventure Area, the Lilly Pad Village is a beautiful escape from highways, traffic, and congestion. Try your luck gem mining, cast your line in the lily pad pond, challenge your kids to a game of mini-golf, or enjoy lunch at one of the outdoor picnic tables.

Go Horseback Riding in the Cohutta Wilderness

There are many horseback stable options to choose from in Blue Ridge, but we prefer the seclusion and peaceful vibes you get from a horseback ride in the Cohutta Wilderness. One of North Georgia’s best-kept secrets, the Cohuttas are the largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi River. Here, you can trot along trails off the beaten path as you enjoy the sights and sounds that only Mother Nature can compose. For extra fun, pack a picnic lunch and swing by the Jacks River Campground, where you can rest up and splash around in the nearby creeks.

Go Tubing on the Toccoa River

If spending a few days on the river is your ideal summertime activity, you’ve come to the right place! Blue Ridge is home to the gorgeous Toccoa River, where kids and adults of all ages enjoy tubing trips all summer long. There are many tubing outfitters to choose from, particularly in the Aska Adventure Area, where you can book a Blue Ridge vacation rental and drive five minutes to your destination. Bring some snacks and drinks to enjoy as you float down the Toccoa, and if you’re feeling frisky, bring along your fishing pole and try your hand at trout fishing!

Rent a Boat on Lake Blue Ridge

Between the Toccoa River and Lake Blue Ridge, you have endless options when it comes to water adventures in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Lake Blue Ridge is one of the most popular places to be in the summer. Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline rush on a speedboat or simply want to lounge on the lake in a pontoon boat, you have several rental options to choose from on Lake Blue Ridge. Don’t forget to dock your boat and enjoy some cold drinks and hot wings at the Boat Dock Bar & Grill, located at the Lake Blue Ridge Marina.

Other Summertime Activities to Consider

We could go on for days about all the fun things to see and do while you’re in Blue Ridge this summer! To save your time and ours, here are some additional activities to enjoy this summer:  

  • Splurge on a waterfront cabin rental in Blue Ridge
  • Go on an exciting whitewater rafting tour
  • Visit Mercier Orchards
  • Satiate your sweet tooth at Huck’s General Store
  • Shop till you drop in Downtown Blue Ridge
  • Rent Pedego electric bikes and go on a scenic ride
  • Go on a zipline tour
  • Follow the trout art trail
  • See a show at the Blue Ridge Community Theater
  • See a real-deal drive-in movie at the Swan Drive-In

Make Your own Blue Ridge, Georgia Cabin Rental Experience

Making Your own Adventure in Blue Ridge, Georgia

The words Blue Ridge and adventure are often used in the same sentence.  You will hear of Blue Ridge Mountain Adventure, Experience the Blue Ridge Adventure, and so on.  So in this article we will focus on only one area where the adventure is almost endless.  Where adventure meets reality, where the sky and the earth meet, where the cool mountain streams create waterfalls and rivers, and fine dining is easily within reach.  Where is this, only the Aska Adventure Area, of course.

The Aska Adventure area is a recently named area in Fannin County that is to the south of town and got it’s name from being Aska Rd.  Aska Road is a 13.1 mile long road that leads from the center of Fannin County southward towards what is known as the tail of Fannin County.  The reason adventure are got added to create the term is all of the things to do along this short 13.1 mile stretch of country road.

Stating about 2 miles on Aska Rd. from Blue Ridge there is access to Lake Blue Ridge.  The adventure here can start at the boat ramp and Green Creek, and the Green Creek Recreation Area.  A great place to bring the pic nik basket and have a lakeside lunch followed by a canoe ride or a swim in Green Creek.  In the summer time Green Creek is part of Lake Blue Ridge, as the water backs up into the natural cove creating lake frontage for several homes.  In the winter time the Blue Ridge Lake is drawn down to winter pool, and the Green Creek area turns into a tributary to the main body of the lake.

About another two miles down Aska Rd. you will begin to ascend Deep Gap, one of the highest elevations in Fannin County.  Just after you crest Deep Gap there will be a parking area on the right side of the road.  This is a trail access to the Green Mountain Trail.  This trail is part of the Aska Adventure Trail System.  The Aska Trail System, on Aska Road is access to many trails.  They are Stanley Gap Trail, Flat Creek Loop Trail, Flat Creek Connector, Benton Mckay Trail (the largest spur of the Appalachian Trail), Upper Green Mountain, Lower Green Mountain, Long Branch Connector , and the Long Branch Loop Trail.  For more and specific information on these trails please click the link for the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce, where they have made maps showing the Aska Adventure Trail System.

Another couple of miles own Aska Rd. there is a left turn on Shady Falls Rd.  This is a private area tat goes all the way over to front Lake Blue Ridge.  A quick ride through this area and you will see homes ranging from cabins in the woods, to multi million dollar homes, that some are primary residences and some are second homes.  Off of Shady Falls Rd. is another road named Turkey Farm Road.  Turkey Farm Rd. was named this because when the United States Forest Service use to have a turkey farm on this road.  This is where they bred turkeys and helped to create the plentiful amount of turkeys that have made a habitat in this area for years and years.  Also, on Turkey Farm Rd., is the Turkey Farm Loop, which is a Blue Ridge Georgia Mountain Biking Trail.  For more information on the Turkey Farm Loop Trail, please click the following:  Turkey Farm Loop Trail Info Section.  This trail goes by Lake Blue Ridge and has minimal elevation, but passes by many beautiful homes and down to the Toccoa River.

Back out on Aska Rd. another couple of miles you will start to see the Toccoa River, but only after passing the Flat Creek Loop and Connector.  After starting to see the Toccoa River you will notice a pull off on the left side of the road at “the rapids”.  This is a place where many tubers, kayakers, and canoers get out at.  On past the rapids you will see the Lily Pad Village on the left.  Here is a great place to do some fishing in the pond or some mountain side putt putt.  Past the Lily Pad Village, at the 8 mile mark down Aska Rd. you will see the Toccoa Riverside Restaurant.  Restaurateur, Tim Richter, has put the Toccoa Riverside Restaurant on the map.  The restaurant is a river front master piece, this is recently rebuilt due to a fire several years ago that completely took down the restaurant.  Tim’s heart was still to satisfy customers through their stomachs and he rebuilt the restaurant to a brand new log style building with outdoor dining, a full bar, outdoor fire pit by the river, and a large room in the basement for private events and parties.

Also, at the 8 mile mark on Aska Rd., directly across from the Toccoa Riverside Restaurant, is Stanley Creek Rd.  This is a road that changes name about half way thru and connects at the other end to Hwy 515 at Rock Creek Road and at Rock Creek Church.  But on the Stanley Creek side there is Fall Branch Falls, a Georgia’s Blue Ridge Waterfall Hiking Trail.  This is a very easy trail to a beautiful natural waterfall, with many layers of rock that the water cascades over, but the trek is through some of the most beautiful mountain laurel you have ever seen.  This trail is definitely one that should be on your to do list.

Back out to Aska Road and a turn to the right will take you about 1 more mile to Shallowford Bridge, and Shallowford Bridge Road.  The Shallowford Bridge is an old iron bridge that spans the Toccoa River.  Here is the first spot to start taking in the Toccoa River.  Shallowford Bridge Tubing is here, and this is a place for take out for several other tubing companies as well.  Toccoa Valley Campground tubing has a take out just south of the bridge.  Tubing on the upper Toccoa is a wonderful day trip for all the members of the family.  But, before you get off of Shallowford Bridge Rd. you can go to the Sandy Bottoms Canoe Launch and The Toccoa River Swinging Bridge.  Sandy Bottoms is a public access in the United States National Forest that you can access the river for launching and take out from the Toccoa River.  The Toccoa River Swinging Bridge is an awesome experience that can only be described as a fun hike with a water adventure, and a rope swinging bridge that crosses the river.

Back to Aska Rd. and continue south and you will come to Noontootla Creek.  Noontootla Creek is home to some awesome trout fishing in the Blue Ridge, GA area.  After all, Fannin County is the trout capital of Georgia, and Noontootla Creek is one of the reasons.  Just a few miles upstream from where Noontootla Creek crosses the Aska Road is Noontootla Creek Farms.  Noontootla Creek Farms is home to some serious action and adventure.  They have over two miles of privately owned trout streams, a 3 D archery course, game bird hunting trips, and a full skeet course.  So if you are into fishing and shooting, this is definitely your spot.  The Noontootla Creek Farms consist of almost 2000 acres of family land that has been in the same family for many generations.

From where Noontootla Creek Farms intersects with Aska Rd. there is only about a ¼ of a mile to the end of Aska Rd., but this is not where the adventure ends.  There are many more places in southern Fannin County that home to some exciting and fun outdoor excitement.  Now you can see where Aska Adventure Area gets its name.  With all that has been written in this article about the Aska Adventure Area there are still more things that a family can get into on Aska Rd.  One of the biggest is rentin g a cabin in the Aska Adventure Area.  There are many cabin rentals on Aska Rd. and they have some great views of the mountains, Rich Mountain Wildlife Area, overlook downtown Blue Ridge, Blue Ridge lake front cabin rentals, and Toccoa River front cabin rentals.

So come to Blue Ridge and get an Aska Adventure packed stay for you and your family, one that they will surely never forget, and all on one road.

Breweries in Blue Ridge, GA

Everybody knows that Blue Ridge is known for its beautiful mountains, hilly hiking trails, the wild waters along the Ocoee River, and of course the fun weekend getaways in a beautiful mountain cabin with your family. But did you know that Blue Ridge also has three very distinct breweries in downtown area?

            The first adventure into breweries is the Blue Ridge Brewery located on Depot Street in downtown where they are passionate about craft beer.  Blue Ridge Brewery is a brewpub and beer bar. There is always a great variety of beers on tap, six of the house and up to eight more at any time.  The selection is rotating, so when one keg is done it is replaced with a new one, typically by another brewery and in another style. The beer can be excellently paired with the House Burger or many of the delicious entrées available. This could be a great reason to leave the comfy space of your Blue Ridge cabin and enjoy a night of great food and walking the streets of downtown Blue Ridge.

 And soon to follow was a micro-brewing company called Fannin Brewing Company. It was started by Tom Fennell while he was in Germany enjoying a glass of beer at the communal table in the Augustiner BierGarten. When Tom returned home to Blue Ridge, he joined up with Pat Walker of the Blue Ridge Brewery and they began selling their first beer in October of 2012 here in the North Georgia Mountains. By June 2013, a deal with Eagle Rock Distributing was signed, and Fannin Brewing Company’s beers were on tap in 8 restaurants, then 14, and then 24.  In April, they began brewing in their new location – 3758 East First Street, and the tasting room opened in May of that same year.  Tom and Pat have combined their love for German beer, experience making wine and their passion for the mountains to create world-class beer with local focus. Some of the beer they have are named for places in Fannin County such as Hiwassee Golden Ale, Blue Ridge Lager, and Toccoa Brown Ale. Fannin Brewing Company is partnered with Eagle Rock Distributing, which sponsors many events in Blue Ridge such as Fire and Ice, Taste of Blue Ridge, and the Blues and BBQ Festival every year.

Next is a unique brewing company also located in downtown Blue Ridge, the Grumpy Old Men Brewing.  Founded in October of 2012 by Steve Webber and Chipley McKnight, Grumpy Old Men Brewing is a must see nano-brewery in downtown Blue Ridge.  As long as there is a car in the driveway, then they are there. Steve and Chipley were a couple of old retired guys living in the Blue Ridge Mountains, who started brewing in their backyard, and were quickly graduated to a more efficient system when their brews became popular with family. Their corporate mission is simple: “If we don’t like it, we don’t drink it. If we don’t drink it, we don’t sell it.” That’s just the kind of hometown good ole boy feel that people love and seek when they come to the North Georgia Mountains.  In January, Grumpy Old Men Brewing was visited by the Beer Street Journal. Soon after the visit an article was written, and a video was posted on the Beer Street Journal’s website.  A few of the beers Steve and Chipley have are named for local spots in Fannin County such as Aska Pale Ale, a well-known road in Fannin County, Hell’s Holler Porter, and Moon Over Blue Ridge.

Once you visit any of these three craftsman style businesses, you are sure to return with a watery mouth. When you have that special brewed beer, think of all the time, energy, and thought one of these amazing men put into making your experience a one of a kind.  And think of the possibilities you could come up with to enjoy one of these cold, original style beers……….cozied up to a crackling fire or enjoying a fun family cookout at a huge mountain cabin in beautiful Blue Ridge Georgia.   What will you do to enjoy?

Big Time Gourmet Treats in a Small Mountain Town

Gourmet Food in Blue Ridge

A while back, the travel and food writer Mary Anne Anderson came to Blue Ridge, Georgia. Her article “Eat Like a King (or Queen) in this Mountain Town” appeared in many papers across the country. It was published by the McClatchy-Tribune News Service. They claim to be the second-largest American newspaper publisher, as of 2006. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, of course, published it as well. Down in Florida, the article got published by the Miami Herald, and it also got published way up in New Jersey by the Press of Atlantic City.

Anderson describes Blue Ridge as “quaint, small-town America where the scenery is only part of the show.” Blue Ridge is 1,800 feet above ocean level, so the temperatures rarely reach above the mid-80s, making Blue Ridge your perfect escape from the summer. Sure, many come up here during the winter for the snow, but during the summer you need to escape from the heat even more.

Did you know we have four world-class chefs up here in Blue Ridge? Harvest on Main gives you Chef Danny Mellman, where the homey atmosphere can only almost overshadow the sizzling food. Chef Mellman studied the culinary arts in France, England and Italy. This has taught him to give your Southern food a European flair, making for some truly unique grits and trout. Anderson describes the memory of his Bramlett Farms Local Trout as making her salivate.

All the way from northern Italy, Chef Isabella Molinari brings you scampi, chicken parmesan, and Rollatine di Melanzane, which Anderson describes as “a to-die-for eggplant and cheese dish.” Moreover, Chef Ron Farber of the Black Sheep specializes in Southern Comfort Food, such as barbecue, chicken pot pie and lasagna. However, he also provides quite the variety of food from outside the South for the adventurous. This includes food from Asia and Europe. If you want to know more about him, please head on over to our Google+ post about him.

Finally, Chef Douglas Olsen of Cabin Cuisine actually delivers food to where you are staying. This isn’t delivery. This is quality food from a four-star restaurant that’s “designed just to your tastes.” Chef Olen does not provide you with your average fried chicken. He prepares chicken cordon bleu, filet mignon and lobster tail. All of that’s served on a “white table cloth complete with candles.” You don’t even have to wash your own dishes. They’ll do that for you.

Want a dessert after all of that? Anderson recommends the Sweet Shoppe of Blue Ridge as they just won the sixth season of the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars where four contestants compete against each other with one going some each round. If you want more dessert options, some apples or a souvenir, then you can dash on over to Mercier Orchards, which is the largest orchard in Georgia.

Anderson also discussed the growing trend among vacationers to forgo hotels in favor of cabin rental. We also discussed this. Click here if you missed that blog. So once you’re done having your delicious dinner in town. You can head on over to one of our cabins. Some are quite close to Blue Ridge. Two come to mind: Sweet Retreat at 6-8 minutes from town and High Expectations at 5 minutes. For a full listing, including some remote ones, please visit our homepage.

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Or if you want work all of that off, you can stroll around downtown Blue Ridge to see all of the shops. It’s an easy walk, and you can take your time and visit all of the quaint shops. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you could go rafting, horseback riding, tubing, boating or hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Anderson also wrote several articles for Georgia Mountain Cabin Rentals and Blue Ridge Rustic Relaxation on this blog, such as “Holiday Things To Do In Blue Ridge, Georgia” and “Winter Time Blue Ridge, Georgia Things To Do.”

Save the Date for Blue Ridge Blues and BBQ Festival

Fourth Annual Blue Ridge Blues and BBQ Festival

Everyone at Georgia Mountain Cabin Rentals here in Blue Ridge, Georgia hopes you can join us for the Fourth Annual Blue Ridge Blues and Barbeque Festival on the 20th of September, 2014 from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. Previous years have always been a blast. If you want to spend the entire weekend up here, don’t forget to book your cabin early. Our cabins tend to get sold out rather quickly for this event.

You might want to come with a very empty stomach. They’re going to have lots and lots of BBQ, and all of those culinary delights are served by our local venders. If all of that Blue Ridge barbeque makes you thirsty (which it will), you can wash it down with some local brew from Blue Ridge Brewery and Fannin Brewing Company.  Also, Eagle Rock is a sponsor this year and will provide Bud, Bud Light, and Landshark. Of course, we’ll also have soft drinks and water.

So, is this event worth it? What did people vacationing here think about last year’s? For your answer, head on over to YouTube for this video and enjoy it nearly four minutes. It shows travelers coming from Atlanta and another from Ohio. One even came all the way from England! They may have come from different places, even a different continent, but they all have one thing to say … Blue Ridge Blues and Barbeque was amazing.

What music will be played? It looks like they’re still working that one out when I checked for this blog (28 April 2014). However, when for 2013’s Blue Ridge Blues and BBQ we had Big Bill Morganfield, the son of Muddy Waters—the founder of electric blues music. With some luck, we’ll get someone of that caliber back for the Fourth Annual Blue Ridge Blues and Barbeque.

Keep in mind we’re only 90 minutes from Atlanta, but we’re in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia, and we have more outdoor adventures than you can go on in a day or even a year. If you want to spend the night we have plenty of options for you.  You can also support a charity just by attending. A portion of the proceeds from the price of  admission goes to the charity Snack in a Backpack. Snack in a Backpack is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization focused on eliminating hunger in Fannin County, Georgia. Snack in a Backpack purchases food directly from regional food banks to keep costs at a minimum. Fresh seasonal fruit is donated by our local growers as well.  We presently serve more than 350 students in seven schools in Fannin County, Georgia.

The event begins with Blues Crawl on Friday night. They follow that with the delicious Blue Ridge barbeque and some smoothing blues on Saturday from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. That means if you want to experience everything, you’re going to have to stay the night. One lady at this exact moment in the video linked above regretted that she missed out on the Blues Crawl on the Friday. Of course, she enjoyed Saturday, but she missed Friday night. If you’re looking for lodging so you can experience both days, Georgia Mountain Cabin Rentals and Blue Ridge Cabin Rentals has several options close to town.  A Sweet Retreat is just 8-10 minutes from downtown Blue Ridge where all the action’s happening. Click here for more info or to book that cabin. If that’s too great a distance for you, then click here for a look at High Expectations—just 5 minutes from town.

The event is all in the southern part of the Downtown Blue Ridge City Park. The admission is just five dollars per person.Image

PBS “Getting Away Together” in Blue Ridge, GA

PBS’s Getting Away Together comes to Blue Ridge.

Highlighting great destinations around the United States, the PBS reality show Getting Away Together will feature Blue Ridge, Georgia in an upcoming episode, but they have already released some snippets. They have worked hard to present a wide variety of real people going on real vacations all across the United States since their national debut in the fall of 2011.

Okay, many channels are dedicated to travel. What sets this one show apart from the others? It’s all in the title. The show focuses on togetherness, or what the site calls “togethering.” This could be anything from girlfriend getaways to family reunions to milestone celebrations. They are the first realty travel series to focus on this overwhelming trend to travel with friends, kids, grandparents, and the extended family in fully-furnished homes. Nearly all of our guests here at Georgia Mountain Cabins and Blue Ridge Mountain Cabin Rentals are groups wanting to get away from their busy lives in the city, and they want to be enjoy some quite time with their families away from their busy lives in Atlanta. Georgia Mountain Cabin Rentals provides that.

One of the most intriguing aspects of Getting Away Together is that all of the people in it are real people. They are not actors paid to be infomercials. This is not a commercial. This is a reality television show. PBS carefully selects all of the groups featured in the series from personal referrals, word-of-mouth research, websites, and social media. The film crew then documents the group as they unwind and behold local sites. It is genuine.

Getting Away Together believes that there are two things people love. They want to get away to an awe-inspiring destination, and they want to be with friends and family. The show works to combine those two. People can be happy with their family while going to work. People can be happy getting away for vacation, but we’re happiest when doing both, and this show emphasizes that. Georgia Mountain Cabin Rentals agrees wholeheartedly. We provide an escape to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Check out some of the views over on our Pinterest. While you’re there check out the babbling creeks and rivers near our cabins.

If you are unsure about having a Blue Ridge Mountain vacation, or renting a cabin with Georgia Mountain Cabin Rentals, then you should definitely check this show out. Getting Away Together provides viewers with takeaway tips and best-kept travel secrets. Experts give out inside information and terrific tips on how to choose the best vacation rental for your situation. If you need the info or the inspiration to help you plan a meaningful trip to Georgia’s breath-taking Blue Ridge Mountains, give us a call, toll free, at (877) 656-7368 and we are here to help.

Most importantly, the show focuses on families going to vacation rentals as opposed to more traditional hotels, such as fully furnished homes, villas, condos, and cabins. These were chosen because these kinds of homes are becoming preferred over traditional hotels for offering a more amenities and a more homely atmosphere. This detailed article published on their official site presents statistical data supported by academic studies. The long and short of it is that there exists a steadily growing trend in recent years towards cabins taking some of the ground traditionally held by hotels and the like.

However, if you go that route, you get a room or two. If you choose to stay in one of our homes, you’ll have a whole house to yourself as opposed to being crammed together in some hotel room in the middle of a city. We have cabins that house 14 and another that houses 4. Some of them are secluded, while others are literally five minutes from downtown Blue Ridge. We at Blue Ridge Mountain Cabin Rentals provide much more variety than any hotel can.

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Blue Ridge Mountain Cabin Rental Views!

 

 

 

 

Blue Ridge White Water Rafting

Whitewater rafting and tubing

            Whitewater rafting is on the most exciting adventures you can have up here in the Blue Ridge, GA area.

The OcoeeRiver, and white water center, is one the most popular whitewater rafting destination in the entire United States. And with over 20 continuous rapids, it’s not hard to see why. And one river rafting company—the creatively named Ocoee River Rafting—is located “just several miles from Blue Ridge, Georgia.” Here’s the link for more info.

I have personal experience rafting on two different rivers, but the most fun by far is the Ocoee. Once I had graduated to the boy scouts we went down the Ocoee.  The rapids are class III+ on the International Scale of River Difficulty created by the American Whitewater Association, meaning the rapids are for the intermediately skilled. However, there are some rapids on the OcoeeRiver that get up to class V level.

While rafting the river there are so many exciting times it is hard to describe just one.  However, there is one in particular that I remember from personal experience.  While in the Boy Scouts we rafted once on the Ocoee river.  About half way through our trip we found ourselves essentially in a whirlpool for several minutes, though it felt like an eternity. All of the sudden I noticed that the scout in front of me was just gone, then so was the adult leader next to him. In one of the pictures, we can see a leg of his sticking out of the river and nothing else. Then my brother fell into the river. According the pictures (I don’t have many memories of this), I tried to bring him back in raft. In the next picture, my brother’s in the river and I’m bear-hugging the raft, so as to not join him. My dad managed to pull me back in.

At one point, another raft came by and tried to push us out. The attempt was unsuccessful. I don’t know how but we eventually got out and had to land nearby to get over half of our passengers back in. Then we continued down to river and finished our awesome trip. All of the rapids on the river were fun to navigate but that’s the only one I remember.

I feel obliged to say this: you are completely safe on the Ocoee. All of the company guides are trained for obvious reasons. Accidents can still happen, as the water is a powerful force of nature.  But, as I said I rafted on the Ocoee at a young age and I rafted on another river at a younger age, nothing happened. The guides will do everything in their power to keep you safe. They have to. It is their job. The companies are liable for your safety. You just have to paddle when and where they tell you to.

If you have very young children, under the age of 12, do not bring them on the Ocoee. Luckily, we have an even closer alternative—tubing on the Toccoa River which is safe for kids over the age of 5. You can float down the river tube for 1.5 miles with the tubing offered by Rolling Thunder River. If the TVA isn’t releasing water, this’ll take a couple of hours, but if the dam is letting water through, then that time is reduced by 2/3rds. However, if you want to spend more than 20 minutes on the river, they offer a 3 mile trip, doubling the original distance.  Also, there is an alternative of tubing the UpperToccoaRiver, which is not controlled by the Lake Blue Ridge Dam.  The upper river is located up Aska Road, in the “Aska Adventure Area”.  There are several options for tubing the upper Toccoa.  Toccoa River Adventures, Toccoa Valley Campground and Tubing, Shallowford Bridge Tubing, and Jon/Ron are some of the recommended vendors.

Reservations are not necessary. If you want to more than float, they also offer canoeing and kayaking.

Here’s a link, provided by the Chamber of Commerce with all the possible info you want to have on your Blue Ridge water adventure.

My First Time Ever in Blue Ridge, from an outsiders standpoint

My first time ever in Blue Ridge, Georgia

I was hesitant to come up to the mountains.

Sure, I liked the outdoors but for some reason I can’t exactly put my hands on I did not want to come up the mountains. Regardless, my parents bought land up here, and we were going camping on that land.

Right off the bat, Dad and my brother Blake went off fishing. That isn’t something I’m interested in, so I stayed behind with Mom. That being said if you are interested in fishing, there are literally countless fishing holes up here. You can fish at Blue RidgeLake or the any streams. Follow this link for a list of the best ones.

Later, I heard their story. They were at a random fishing hole when an armed man in camo with a beard that was literally stuffed into his belt came up. Dad was about to hightail it out of there. When the guy starting feeding the fish in order to make them come to the top. He gave them advice on the best fishing holes in the county.

That is the character of the people up there. Want another example? There’s an old man that always walks around the road to our property. If you talk to him, he’s so nice. However, he can go on for literally hours about local history like how the Cherokee chief White Path fought alongside Andrew Jackson in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, how he protested white encroachment on traditional Cherokee lands, how he lobbied against Indian removal in the courts, and why he eventually went along with the Trail of Tears—which this road followed. Oh, and here’s why they call this place Devil’s Den ….

If you want to know more about our history, just read the local paper. The columnist Dale Dyer writes in entire articles on that.

Within a couple hours of camping, we knew all three of our neighbors. By the way if you want to just get away, then this is the perfect place for you. I have only three neighbors. Anyway, they just came up to introduce themselves and brought snacks with them.

Finally, the place to go in Blue Ridge is Mercier Apple Orchards. They sell apples in literally every from you could imagine—apple cider, apple cider donuts, apple fried pies, apple bread loaf, fudge covered apples. And no, they don’t just sell apples. They also grow strawberries, cherries, blueberries, peaches and plumbs. They offer an endless variety of snacks. Want a souvenir? They have the kind of gifts that you can find nowhere else.

The thing I remember most that first time in Blue Ridge is that night. Dad jumped at a pair of eyes—only to find out there were fireflies. In a few minutes, they were everywhere. I’ve camped out a lot, but never in my life have I seen so many fireflies.

Later that night we looked up into night sky. If you leave in town or in a city, many stars will be blotted out by the lights of civilization. In Blue Ridge, you can see them all. I even saw the Milky Way!

Spring is in the air at Blue Ridge Cabin Rentals

Let’s play a word association game. Mountains.

Now, if you’re like me when you think mountains, the first word that comes to mind is winter. Mountains equal high elevation which means snow. Thus, the first thing I think of when I think mountains is winter. Of course, all four seasons come to the Blue Ridge Mountains like any other region not in the tropics (they have a dry season and wet season if you’re curious), but I always associate mountains with winter, despite that simple fact. When I think of mountains, I never think about what I could do in the spring. So, what can you do up here in the spring?

Ironically, I’ve come to the conclusion that nearly every activity that I do in the mountains I do in spring. These include hiking, horseback riding, fishing, and rafting and tubing to name just a few.

Let’s start with hiking. I personally prefer to hike in the spring or fall. I’m a person that doesn’t like the cold. Just last week as you can tell from our Facebook page, it snowed a lot up here. It was beautiful, but I doubt many were out hiking in that weather. If you wait until summer to hike, then it gets far too hot for you to comfortably hike in Georgia.

We have two very famous hiking trials locally. There’s the Appalachian Trail, stretching 2,000 miles all the way up to Maine from its starting point at SpringerMountain. Also, starting at SpringerMountain is the Benton MacKaye Trail that ends at Big Creek in the Great Smoky MountainsNational   Park. Other than the two famous ones, there are over 300 miles of hiking in the area, including ones for beginners.

Many of those trails are also used for horseback riding. From personal experience, I can tell you that nothing beats riding up into the mountains just to get away from busy-ness. We’ve plenty of trails to choose from. There are also several riding stables that specialize in family trail rides for kids of almost ages.

Want to fish? Choose from 100 miles of rivers, creeks, and streams. Just to name a few: Jack’s River, ConasaugaRiver, ToccoaRiver, Rock Creek, Noontootla Creek and CooperCreek. Be sure to consult the Georgia Guide to Trout Fishing for all the info you might need.

Finally, there’s rafting and tubing. If you want to float down the Toccoa, put in above the LakeBlue Ridge dam or below McCaysville—but the best is rafting the Ocoee. There’s nothing like paddling hard as your guide navigates through the rapids.

Blue Ridge, GA Fire and Ice Festival

The Fourth Annual Fire and Ice in Blue Ridge

On February 15, Blue Ridge hosts its fourth annual Fire and Ice event featuring music, a chili cook-off and live ice carvings. The event is in downtown Blue Ridge from noon to 6 pm.

The highlight of the event is the chili tasting. On the official Fire and Ice Facebook page, it was reported that 13 people have already signed for the contest but that was a couple days ago. You can taste the chili any time from noon to 4:30 p.m.

Other attractions include entertainment by Laura Monk and High Cotton. This link contains just one original song of theirs. “Appalachia Goodbye” tells the story of tradition, hard work, perseverance, faith and beauty so evident in the mountains of Appalachia. The video was filmed in North Georgia. Here’s the link. The band focuses on Southern roots music and strives to create “a song that’s uniquely original and as familiar as Sunday,” according to her Facebook page. Their music is drawn from all five members with experiences in folk, jazz, Celtic, Southern rock, and country. They play from 12 to 2.

Following that is the music performance of the local band Neighborhood Watch from 2 to 4. This trio was formed in the summer of 2009. Though, they list their genre was Blues Rock, the claim to blend genres. They use both acoustic and electric instruments.

Then the Buckner Brothers Band gives another live performance from 4 to 6. They are also a five member band. Their members include a lead guitarist, a bass guitarist, drummer, a percussionist, and a sax player. They have several songs uploaded onto YouTube. Click for an example. They are a blues and Southern rock band from Chatworth, Ga.

Finally, experience ice carvings live! Watch as professional carve true works of art out of ice before your very eyes. In previous years, the carvers have chiseled the kids’ names into their sculptures. Here’s a link to an image, and here’s another.

You can attend the event for free but chili tasting tickets cost five dollars. Just drive roughly 90 minutes up to North Georgia on Saturday, February 15. Blue Ridge is situated right off interstate 575. The event is sponsored by the Blue Ridge Business Association.