ELLIJAY, GEORGIA—SEPTEMBER 2021—Located 80 miles north of Atlanta and 65 miles from Chattanooga, Tennessee, Ellijay, Georgia, and surrounding Gilmer County combines the best of all the North Georgia mountains has to offer. Outdoor adventure, unique lodging options, eclectic dining and scenic trails for hiking and mountain biking make Ellijay a majestic natural retreat for adventure seekers. Whether you are looking to explore the great outdoors solo, with family or a group of friends, Ellijay offers enough outdoor adventure that will have you returning to the area time and time again.
From rustic cabins to campgrounds and RV resorts, Ellijay has a wide variety of lodging options for your adventurous getaway. Gingershack Farms is a local family-owned business with a strong emphasis on Southern hospitality. Located minutes from apple orchards and wineries, Gingershack Farms offers cabin rental properties nestled beside a babbling creek and surrounded by resident farm animals. (280 Turkey Creek Drive, Ellijay, Georgia 30536; 706-635-1685)
Mulberry Gap Adventure Basecamp offers guests a rustic haven with cabins, campsites, home-cooked meals, craft beer and more. This ride-in or walk-in site has a laid-back community feel with a convenient location. Many routes pass right by the gates of Mulberry Gap. Knowledgeable staff members offer a personalized experience to all, and guests will feel like longtime friends by the end of a stay. When adventure calls, guests can take advantage of shuttles to local trailheads. (400 Mulberry Gap Road, Ellijay, Georgia 30540; 706-698-2865)
For a unique state park experience, check out Fort Mountain State Park. The allure to Fort Mountain State Park starts with a scenic drive on Highway 52 near the Cohutta Wilderness which leads visitors to a mountain getaway complete with a serene lake and some of Georgia’s most beautiful trails. Accommodations include fully equipped cottages, a campground and backpacking sites. (181 Fort Mountain Park Road, Chatsworth, Georgia 30705; 706-422-1932)
Diamond Lure Campground offers a variety of camping experiences. Family-owned and operated since 1973, Diamond Lure is located in the beautiful Foothills of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Camp among the stars with primitive tent camping and enjoy observing deer, squirrels, rabbits and more in their natural habitats. (514 Diamond Lure Road, Ellijay, Georgia 30536; 706-273-3075)
Carters Lake Campgrounds offers seven campgrounds and day-use facilities including Woodring Branch Campground, Harris Branch Campground and Doll Mountain Campground, all of which are located on the pristine Carters Lake in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Campsites offer a pleasant camping experience with amenities and activities for the whole family to enjoy. (Woodring Branch Campground, 5026 Woodring Branch Road, Ellijay, Georgia 30540; 706-334-2248 | Harris Branch Campground, 575 Marina Road, Chatsworth, Georgia 30705; 706-276-4545) | Doll Mountain Campground, 1362 Doll Mountain Rd, Ellijay, Georgia 30540; 706-276-4413)
Traveling by RV? Talona Ridge RV Resort is slated to open this fall and is carefully designed to offer a luxury RV resort experience. Located less than a minute’s drive off of Georgia State Highway 515, Talona Ridge allows safe accessibility for full-length motor coaches year-round as well as a hassle-free setup at all of their oversized rental sites. (723 Highland Parkway, East Ellijay, Georgia 30540; 770-636-2267)
When surrounded by so much natural beauty in Ellijay, it’s hard not to feel one with nature. Discover the wonders of nature on one of the area’s many trails. Bear Creek Trail, located in the Chattahoochee National Forest just outside of Ellijay, is one of North Georgia’s most popular mountain biking and hiking destinations. Hike through a beautiful mossy, fern-filled creek valley to discover the second-largest living tree in Georgia.
Families love hiking Ellijay’s Big Acorn Trail at Carters Lake. This 2/3-mile hike is perfect for beginners and children looking to be trail leaders. Take in stunning views of the lake at the overlook and be sure to include a stop at the nature center for fun, educational opportunities for young hikers. Looking for something a little longer? Try the Tumbling Waters Nature Trail also located at Carters Lake. At just over a mile long, hikers will enjoy crossing a 150-foot-long bridge over Tails Creek and ending at the cascade’s peak.
Cartecay River Loop Trail is a moderate-rated trail that runs along the river for a large portion of the route. While most of the trail is relatively easy, there are a few portions with steep elevation changes. This heavily traveled trail is 3.4 miles long and is open to hikers year-round. Looking to take pets on a little adventure, too? Dogs are welcome on this trail; however, they must remain on a leash. Take advantage of the rest stops along the way which offer gorgeous views of the river.
Want to explore the trails on two wheels? Mountain bikers love Talking Rock Nature Preserve, which includes 220 acres of pristine land that offer a beautiful place to enjoy nature at no cost to the public. Ridgeway Mountain Bike Trails are made up of beginner, intermediate and advanced trails, giving bikers the opportunity to take their skills to the next level.
Amadahy Trail offers a mostly single-track trail with some spots that are wider than others. Bikers can travel the trail clockwise or counterclockwise and descend towards Carters Lake. This trail is comprised of some easy uphill and downhill sections that keep the pace fairly even throughout the ride. The Pinhoti Trails (numbers 3, 4, 5 and 6) are made up of 20 miles of high-intensity climbs, downhills and creek crossings. Don’t miss the Dennis Mill section of the trail which features steep climbs.
For advanced rides, check out Mountain Town and Stanley Gap. Mountain Town is a 14-mile gravel ride to the top and one of North Georgia’s hidden gems. Featuring varied terrain, including quite a bit of technical downhills, large creek crossings and rock gardens, Mountain Town is challenging and beautiful all at the same time. Equally challenging is Stanley Gap. This trail is full of steep ridgelines, narrow tree openings, spectacular scenery, technical downhills and extremely difficult climbing. Stanley Gap can be accessed from 515 North to Blue Ridge. From there, turn right on First Street followed by a right on Industrial, then right on Aska Road for 8.4 miles to Shady Falls Road. Follow signs for Long Branch Loop Trailhead.
Make sure to stop at Cartecay Bike Shop. This full-service bike shop offers everything needed to hit the trails, from bikes to repair and maintenance services, gear as well as MTB classes and trail advice. Located on Main Street, Cartecay Bike Shop is open daily 10 am – 5 pm, closed Tuesdays. (493 North Main Street, Ellijay, Georgia 30540; 70-635-3453)
Ellijay’s emerging food scene has something to entice everyone’s taste buds. With a multitude of dining options to choose from, visitors can indulge in some of the freshest cuisines the area has to offer, from Southern-style farm-to-table to woodfired pizza and Asian fusion.
New to Ellijay’s dining scene is Zen & Juice, a smoothie and juice bar offering healthier options by healing through food. Utilizing local and organic ingredients as much as possible, Zen & Juice features unique food and drink options created to excite the palate while delivering improved performance to the body. Patrons are sure to leave feeling refreshed and revitalized! (100 North Main Street, Ellijay, Georgia 30540; 910-616-9101)
Known for their fresh poke bowls and hot noodle bowls, The Shack serves Asian fusion cuisine in a cozy atmosphere where fresh ingredients and creative presentation are second to none. Located on Ellijay’s Main Street, The Shack is open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. (118 North Main Street, Ellijay, Georgia 30540; 706-635-3663)
Looking for some down-home Southern barbecue and ribs? Well, that’s just what you will find at Colonel Poole’s Georgia Bar-B-Q, Inc. This second-generation restaurant specializes in Southern pork barbecue and ribs that have gained quite a bit of popularity among celebrities and politicians alike. Complete with a “Pig Hill of Fame,” this local favorite is a must-see—and taste! And chances are, you’ll be greeted by a member of the Poole family. (164 Craig Street, East Ellijay, Georgia 30540; 706-635-4100)
It doesn’t get much more authentic than Ellijay Wood Fired Pizza! Located in the heart of Ellijay’s historic business district, Ellijay Wood Fired Pizza serves up authentic Neapolitan style pizza and Italian food using a woodfired oven straight from Naples. Situated in a newly restored early 19th century former hotel, this little slice of heaven is not to be missed! (2 River Street, Ellijay, Georgia 30540; 706-707-4992)
Feel like staying in and taking out? Look no farther than Mr. P’s Takeout Food, Inc. This family-owned, local favorite has been serving the area for the last 40 years. Known for homestyle Southern cooking, from fried chicken biscuits to pulled barbecue plates, Mr. P’s is the epitome of Southern cuisine covering all the favorites everyone knows and loves. (295 North Main Street, Ellijay, Georgia 30540; 706-635-4040)
Back Porch Bistro located in downtown Ellijay is another favorite among locals and visitors. Specializing in sandwiches, paninis, soups and salads, this neighborhood bistro offers dine-in and take-out options. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are also available. (10 Northside Square, Ellijay, Georgia 30540; 706-636-1111)