Girl on a road trip in Fort Mountain State Park in Chatsworth, Georgia. Photo by @goanniewhere

Fort Mountain State Park in Chatsworth, Georgia. Photo by @goanniewhere

Chatsworth to Blue Ridge Fall Road Trip

Explore scenic woodlands and small towns in northwest Georgia, stopping along the way to pick apples, hike to waterfalls, ride a train and more.

The 40+ mile drive from the foothills town of Chatsworth to scenic Blue Ridge hugs the western edge of the Chattahoochee National Forest and winds through some of the state’s most beautiful woodlands and small towns. Fall is the perfect time to visit the area’s picturesque orchards and notable wineries, hike to craggy mountain tops, or hop on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, which takes you into the heart of North Georgia’s most rugged forests.

Route Overview

From Chatsworth, head east on Highway 52 to Ellijay, then head north on U.S. 76 to Blue Ridge. Take time to hike, pick apples, ride a train, and take photos along the way.

Things to See & Do

Explore Fort Mountain State Park

Staircase among fall foliage at Fort Mountain State Park in Chatsworth, Georgia. Photo by @austinbwalker
Fort Mountain State Park in Chatsworth, Georgia. Photo by @austinbwalker

Head into the forest on scenic Highway 52 to Fort Mountain State Park, named for the 885-foot-long rock wall at its summit. Explore more than 25 miles of hiking, biking, and cycling trails that wind through lush forests, cascading waterfalls, a pristine lake, and mountain summits for prime leaf-peeping. Try the 0.75-mile Big Rock Nature Loop, a moderate hike that rewards with views of the lake, several small waterfalls, and ridgeline views.

Play in Ellijay

Woman with apples on her head at R & A Orchards in Ellijay, Georgia. Photo by @diaryofdualeh
R & A Orchards in Ellijay, Georgia. Photo by @diaryofdualeh

From Highway 52, drive southeast for 28 miles through the towering trees and brilliant foliage of the Chattahoochee National Forest to Ellijay, the “Apple Capital of Georgia.” Head to the family-owned B.J. Reece Orchards, which grows 20 different varietals and offers a petting farm, train rides, ziplines, and more family fun on fall weekends. Other local orchards include R & A Orchards, Hillcrest Orchards, and Red Apple Barn, which has a farm store selling apple-centric treats, plus a playground, tractor rides, games, and a pumpkin patch each October.

Scenic view of Cartecay Vineyards in Ellijay, Georgia
Cartecay Vineyards in Ellijay, Georgia

Adults can sip wines on the outdoor patio at Cartecay Vineyards, which has live music every weekend. Other area wineries include Ellijay River Vineyards, Ott Farms and Vineyard, and Grapes and Ladders Vineyards and Winery.

Hike to Jacks River Falls in the Cohutta Wilderness

Hiker at Jacks River Falls near Ellijay. Photo by @samanthastaylor
Hiker at Jacks River Falls near Ellijay. Photo by @samanthastaylor

Spanning 37,000 acres in Georgia and Tennessee, the sprawling Cohutta Wilderness is one of the East Coast’s largest nature areas. The remote park contains over 90 miles of hiking and backpacking trails, which descend to tumbling waterfalls, wind by rushing rivers, and ascend to scenic mountain vistas.

For a challenging day hike, try the nine-mile Jacks River Falls Trail. Access the falls via the Jacks River Trail at Daily Gap, just 30 miles north of Ellijay. The out-and-back path splashes through several creeks and winds along lush riverbeds and through hardwood forest before reaching the namesake falls, which cascade dramatically over craggy cliffs into a deep pool of water below.

Ride the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

Woman and fall leaves at Blue Ridge Scenic Railway in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Photo by @teratown1
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Photo by @teratown1

For a less strenuous but equally breathtaking mountain excursion, climb aboard the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, a 26-mile round-trip journey along the Toccoa River and through some of North Georgia’s most beautiful landscapes, like rolling hills and preserved farmlands. The four-hour ride starts from a historic depot in downtown Blue Ridge and travels to McCaysville, Georgia, and Copperhill, Tennessee, where visitors can disembark and explore the shops, restaurants, and quaint downtowns of the twin cities. The return trip winds through lush forests for prime leaf viewing and ends back in Blue Ridge.

Places to Stay

Mountain cabin in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Photo courtesy Escape to Blue Ridge
Mountain cabin in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Photo courtesy Escape to Blue Ridge

Cabins in Blue Ridge & at Mulberry Gap

End your journey with an overnight stay at an intimate bed and breakfast or rustic cabin rental in Blue Ridge, or head back toward Ellijay to stay at the rustic cabins or campsites at Mulberry Gap. Renowned for its mountain biking and hiking trails, the campsite is a great home base for North Georgia travelers with amenities such as hot tubs, craft beer, and home-cooked meals.

Airstream trailer camping in Ellijay, Georgia. Photo by @northgeorgiaglamping
Airstream trailer camping in Ellijay, Georgia. Photo by @northgeorgiaglamping

North Georgia Glamping

For a unique experience in Ellijay, try North Georgia Glamping, with accommodations ranging from a treeloft 1969 Airstream to a geodesic dome and three-bedroom cabin, all with windows or porches ideal for daytime leaf-peeping and evening stargazing.

Front porch of The Overlook Inn in Chatsworth, Georgia, with pumpkins
The Overlook Inn in Chatsworth, Georgia

The Overlook Inn

Halfway between Ellijay and Chatsworth, The Overlook Inn is a six-room bed and breakfast with elegant rooms boasting private porches, gas fireplaces, and hot tubs. The rate includes a three-course breakfast and a weekend wine and cheese hour.

Published: September 2021
Written by: Laura Scholz