Looking for a summer adventure that’s close to home and offers a breath of fresh air? Take to the water in Blue Ridge, Georgia, about 90 minutes north of Atlanta via Interstate 575, where the 3,290-acre Lake Blue Ridge and the Toccoa River beckon visitors to cool off in the North Georgia Mountains. Whether chasing waterfalls, tubing the Toccoa, paddling a kayak or renting a boat, Blue Ridge has numerous waterways paving the path to aquatic adventure.
The Toccoa River offers crystal clear, cool flowing waters ideal for trout fishing and serves as a kayaking and canoe trail, as well as a pathway for tubers. Horseshoe Bend Park offers easy points of access to the river. Jon Ron Toccoa River Outfitters (15 Black Ankle Creek Road, Cherry Log, Georgia 30522) and Blue Ridge Mountain Kayaking (56 North River Road, Blue Ridge, Georgia 30513) provide equipment rentals and shuttle service.
Float the day away with a tubing adventure. Tubes are available through several outfitters, including Toccoa Valley Campground & Tubing (11481 Aska Road, Blue Ridge, Georgia 30513), Toccoa River Tubing (340 Toccoa Avenue, McCaysville, Georgia 30555) and Rolling Thunder Tubing (20 Hughes Street, McCaysville, Georgia 30555).
Eventually, the Toccoa River becomes the Ocoee River, crossing the Tennessee state line. Rapid lovers travel from far and wide to paddle these white waters. Choose a local guide company to help you steer the wild currents aboard a raft. Or, if you’re a thrill-seeker, journey to Ocoee River where the waters come alive in the warmer months. For a printable copy of Water Sports Adventures–Guides & Outfitters, click here.
Need equipment or extra assistance before diving in? Cohutta Fishing Company (490 East Main Street, Blue Ridge, Georgia 30513) hosts guided wade trips and float trips on both the head waters and the tail waters of the Toccoa River, as well as private waters. The Cohutta Fishing Company carries the best fishing gear and accessories and all their flies are tied by local guides and retired fishing enthusiasts. The outfitter also offers fly-tying and fly-fishing classes. Other guide services include Appalachian Anglers, Fly Fish Blue Ridge and Fly Fishing North Georgia.
Nearby, Noontootla Creek Farms (3668 Newport Road, Blue Ridge, Georgia 30513), gives visitors another option for river adventure with two miles of guided trophy fly-fishing, as well as opportunities to explore by land with guided and unguided quail hunts and a sporting clay course. Guests can extend the experience with an overnight stay in the farmhouse-style lodging.
Take to the waters of beautiful Lake Blue Ridge. Rent a pontoon boat at Lake Blue Ridge Marina (335 Marina Drive, Blue Ridge, Georgia 30513) or let the experts guide you–Capt’n Joe’s Lake Adventures offers tours, private and specialty charters. Rent kayaks or stand-up paddle boards from Lake Blue Ridge Outfitters (26 Bypass Road, Morganton, Georgia 30560).
After a day on the water, treat taste buds to lunch or dinner on the lake at the Boat Dock Bar and Grill. Enjoy scrumptious waterfront favorites like loaded nachos, juicy cheeseburgers and shrimp tacos. Adults can wash it down with libations from the extensive beer, wine and fruity cocktail list. On the weekends, indulge all the senses as lively music fills the warm summer air. For Lake Blue Ridge Marina information, visit LakeBlueRidgeMarina.com.
The hiking trails of Fannin County include some of the most notable 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. Those who prefer adventure on dry land can independently explore area hiking trails that lead to waterfalls, using this easy-to-access guide. Local trail favorites include Fall Branch Falls and Long Creek Falls. Located in the Chilhowee Recreation Area of the Cherokee National Forest, Benton Falls is a relatively easy waterfall hike, too. Families can select trails that range from easy to moderate to difficult to find the right hike for the whole crew. For a waterfall and trail guide, visit: www.BlueRidgeountains.com/what_to_do.html.
If taking in the mountain scenery from the comfort of your car is more your speed, explore these six scenic driving routes that let you escape into the wilderness, experience town and country and drink in mountaintop vistas.
Where to eat: Curbside and al fresco dining
Quell hunger pangs with waterside dining in nearby McCaysville. Try curbside family meals from Burra Burra on the River (100 Blue Ridge Drive, McCaysville, Georgia 30555), where you can dig into a variety of American food ranging from Sweet Potato Fries to sandwiches like the Old Line Railroad Burger with Black Angus beef soaked in a whiskey glaze, thick cut bacon, caramelized onions, cheddar cheese and lettuce all atop a brioche bun. End the evening in a sweet way with a riverside ice cream treat from Happy Bear Café (100 Blue Ridge Drive, McCaysville, Georgia 30555).
Next door, Twisted Tomato Restaurant (100 Blue Ridge Drive, McCaysville, Georgia 30555) offers mouth-watering, brick-oven pizza and Italian food you can pick up to enjoy along the banks of the Toccoa River.
Just 15 minutes outside of Blue Ridge, Toccoa Riverside Restaurant (8055 Aska Road, Blue Ridge, Georgia 30513) provides guests with a fine dining experience, complete with award-winning steaks and seafood along with a dog-friendly outdoor bar and patio area, set in the gorgeous natural surroundings along the Toccoa River. For even more casual dining, go below to River Rest for some great appetizers and an assortment of fish, shrimp, veggie or pork tacos and enjoy dining on the banks of the Toccoa River.
No matter which aqua adventure you choose, summertime memories await in pristine Blue Ridge, Georgia.