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Blue Ridge, Georgia, Celebrates Fall with Hands-on Experiences

Article Date 08/14/2017

Scenic drives, color-infused hikes, train rides along the riverside and more make for an unforgettable season

BLUE RIDGE, GEORGIA--AUGUST 2017--Stop trying to savor the season via a spiced latte and, instead, dive into experiences that capture autumn's true essence--all while making memories that last in Blue Ridge, Georgia, about 90 minutes north of Atlanta via I-575.

Make trails

Grab a backpack and hit the hills of Blue Ridge to get your heart pounding along the collection of trails which make the destination a true hiker's paradise. Fannin County includes some of the most notable hiking trails in the United States. Two of the greatest outdoor adventures in the world, the Appalachian Trail and the Benton MacKaye Trail, begin in Fannin County at the top of Springer Mountain. The Benton-MacKaye, more remote than the Appalachian, winds through remote areas of Fannin County for approximately 54 miles, before it enters Tennessee from Fannin's Cohutta Wilderness and continues a 286-mile trek along the western slopes of the Appalachian Mountains, eventually rejoining the AT in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Choose from trails that range from easy to moderate to difficult to find the right hike for the whole crew. For waterfall-seekers, local trail favorites include Fall Branch Falls, Long Creek Falls and Amicalola Falls. The Aska Trail system, with four points of entry off Aska Road and six interconnecting loops varying in distance for a total of 30 miles of trails, meets up with the Benton-MacKaye Trail at certain points.  www.BlueRidgeMountains.com/outdoor_adventure.html

 

Farm fresh adventure

For ultimate fall fun, take a farm tour of the 400-acre Mercier Orchards and stock up on fried pies, fresh veggies and fruits. Mercier is a family-owned and -operated, primarily apple, orchard. The must-see Blue Ridge attraction rewards senses with bushels of apples, fresh pressed cider, warm fried pies--but, most importantly, memories. Started back in 1943 by Bill & Adele Mercier, Mercier Orchards is now celebrating more than 70 years of fruitful harvests. Beyond apples, their onsite store serves up a variety of farm toys, pet items, kitchen paraphernalia, home decor and is host to a meat and cheese shop. Visit the tasting room, offering hard ciders and wines, including locally-produced varieties. Mercier Orchards is the only apple orchard in Georgia that grows, presses, ferments and bottles their own hard apple cider and farm wines. Mercier Orchards is also the first producer of hard cider in the state. Enjoy a round of tasting; hard ciders include Grumpy Granny, Rock Steady Red, Adele's Choice, Pearody, Black Bee, Lone Tree, Old #3 and Just Peachy. Their farm wines include Fall Harvest Apple, Blackberry Winter and Summer Sweet Peach wines. Mercier Orchards also offers tastings of regional wines produced in the Georgia Mountains. Open: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week. Hard cider and wine tastings are offered 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday-Saturday, 12:30-6 p.m., Sunday; 

706-632-3411 or www.Mercier-Orchards.com.

 

Take a roadtrip

Capture breath-taking scenery alight with blazing fall color during a drive along these top five local routes which highlight the best of the area:

  1. Mountains and Countryside: Packed with popular stops, like Falls Branch Falls, a hike to The Swinging Bridge and Serenberry Vineyards, this Blue Ridge drive takes passengers outside of city limits and on a scenic loop around Blue Ridge. Savor views of the Chattahoochee National Forest and surrounding countryside full of opportunities to view fall colors. Start in Blue Ridge; round trip mileage is 27.5 miles. Available for download at BlueRidgeMountains.com/selfguidedtours.html or contact the Welcome Center at 800-899-MTNS.
  2. Day Trip to Dahlonega and Apple Valley: This day trip, originally produced by the U.S. Forest Service, is beautiful any time of year, but is stunning in the fall. The drive begins and ends at the intersection of Georgia Highways 5 and 515 in Blue Ridge. Stops along the way include the Swinging Bridge over the Toccoa River, Amicalola Falls, Burt's Pumpkin Farm and Apple Alley. Round trip mileage is 91.4 miles and approximate driving time without stops is three to four hours. Download detailed directions at BlueRidgeMountains.com/selfguidedtours.html.
  3. Ocoee Scenic Byway: This drive takes you along Highway 64 from Copperhill to Cleveland, Tennessee, through the Ocoee Gorge. 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, see www.ByWays.org.
  4. Cherohala Skyway: From Blue Ridge, Highway 60 becomes Highway 68 which takes drivers to Highway 165 and into Tellico Plains, Tennessee. Head to Robbinsville, North Carolina, 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. Plan for the drive to take 1 ½ to 2 hours spanning the Skyway's 40 miles. (800) 245-5428 or see www.Cherohala.org.
  5. Southern Highroads Trail: For a multi-day adventure, this road trip covers Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and 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 and Mountain City. Find out more at www.SouthernHighRoads.org.

 

Ride the train

Chugga-chug down the 13-miles of rails comprising the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. The 45-minute (each way) excursion is a generation-bonding adventure that starts at the historic 1905 depot in Downtown. Vintage climate controlled rail cars, along with open-air rail cars, host more than 70,000 passengers each year for a ride that winds alongside the Toccoa River, with a stop in the twin border towns of McCaysville, Georgia, and Copperhill, Tennessee. Copperhill/McCaysville is one town with two names because it is split by the GA/TN state line, where visitors have a two hour layover, plenty of time to eat lunch, shop for unique crafts and antiques, snack on ice cream or walk around. Capture the essence of the season and savor the brilliant autumn colors during special Fall Foliage Trail Rides throughout October and early November. 

 

Save the date for these can't-miss seasonal events:

Blue Ridge Blues & Barbeque Festival--September 14-16

Downtown Blue Ridge 
Blues Crawl Friday night, followed by great blues and barbeque Saturday. 

www.BlueRidgeBluesandBBQ.com

 

Ride the Rails Festival--September 16-17

Mineral Bluff Depot 
A 2.5-mile, round-trip ride by railroad motor car traveling through the Iron Bridge over the beautiful Toccoa River, then returning over the bridge to the Historic Mineral Bluff Depot. Model railroad display, food vendors and more. www.TSMRI.org

Paws in the Park--Second weekend of October
Downtown Blue Ridge City Park 
Enjoy a day with your favorite pet; parade, pet education and demonstrations, costume contest, prizes, photos and more. Sponsored by the Humane Society of Blue Ridge. Paws in the Park

 

Fall Arts in the Park--October 14-15

Downtown Blue Ridge City Park

Delight in fine art, great food, fall colors on the trees and on the canvases. Enjoy the small town charm of Blue Ridge at Fall Arts in the Park. This fall arts and crafts festival features hundreds of regional artists and craftsmen, special events for the kids and live musical performances. Don't miss a visit to The Art Center in the historic Fannin County Courthouse, where you can browse the National Photography Exhibit. Admission is $5 for adults and kids are admitted free.

http://www.blueridgearts.net/arts-in-the-park.html

This month!

On August 21 experience a natural phenomenon in a unique way aboard the Solar Eclipse Ride via the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon lines up between the earth and the sun--an extremely rare and beautiful event. The next total solar eclipse is expected on August 21--for the first time in 38 years. The total solar eclipse will be visible along a thin, roughly 100 mile-wide path that runs diagonally across America from Oregon to South Carolina. The town of Blue Ridge is on the southern edge of the shadow, so totality, when the moon's shadow fully blocks the sun's light, will last up to a minute, depending on location. (Read more about the eclipse, here: http://BlueRidgeExperience.blogspot.com/2017/04/where-will-you-be-on-august-21.html.) The train will depart at 11 a.m. with a three hour, 15 minute layover and will return to Blue Ridge at 4:15 p.m. Viewing glasses will be provided. Tickets are $58 for adults. Cars are assigned; seats are not. Limited seating for this excursion. Guests are encouraged to bring a chair or blanket for the viewing. Reserve tickets, here: http://www.brscenic.com/event/dbbd0530b7eeb766ca91816033c093f2

If you go
Find links to rental companies for mountain cabins with lake-views and room for 20 (hot tub included!) at www.BlueRidgeMountains.com, 1-800-899-MTNS.

MEDIA CONTACT: 

Jode Mull, 1-800-899-6867
Fannin County Chamber of Commerce
www.BlueRidgeMountains.com

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