Escape to the Mountains: Route 2

Just because it is winter doesn’t mean you have to stay inside! And at the same time, we understand that hiking and backpacking in cold weather isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. This is a neat idea for spending a day off in the mountains that is much more cold weather friendly. You owe it to your sanity to break free of that cabin fever and we’ve got just the trek you need! Here is the second of two driving routes up into the mountains and out of Atlanta that can help you escape and offer fun things to do along the way!

The Eastern Route: I-85/GA-400/US-19

This route takes you out of Atlanta through the North Atlanta suburbs. It is the most direct route for anyone in East or South Atlanta and suburbs such as Conyers, Covington, Lawrenceville, Buford, Cumming, Roswell and Alpharetta. This route covers approximately 150 miles of road and takes just about 3.5 hours of drive time (from Atlanta). Of course, you will want to jump out of the car every now and then and check out some cool little mountain towns, neat country stores, beautiful waterfalls and gorgeous mountain views! They’re all along this route!

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Your route in it’s entirety

Step One: Get out of the City

If you live in or south of the center of Atlanta, get to I-85 and go North! Follow signs for GA-400 N and US-19 N. Alternatively, if you live North or further West of Downtown Atlanta, work your way to GA-400 N. After a while, the city will begin to fade away and GA-400 will loose its limited access and become US-19. Follow Signs for Dahlonega and join up with GA-60 N into town. Dahlonega is a great town to top off the gas tank and grab some lunch if you need.

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Step Two: Start Seeing Cool Things

As noted before, Dahlonega is isa great place to stop and get acclimated to the mountains. Grab lunch at the Picnic Cafe, also known as the Dahlonega Dessertery, or at The Crimson Moon (which has live music on weekends if you want to shop by for dinner and tunes on the way home) and walk around the square for a while. Check out the General Store for some old time candy and ready yourself for a day of fun!

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Follow signs out of town for US-19 N and stay right at Stone Pile Gap, splitting ways with GA-60N. When the road T’s at Turner’s Corner, take a left on US-129N. As you crest the top of the winding mountains, you will see Mountain Crossings on your right. This stone building houses a gear outfitter and gift shop and the view off of the overlook is incredible. Take some time to stretch your legs or even go for a hike up Blood Mountain, 2.2 miles up the Appalachian Trail.

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Take a right out of the Mountain Crossings’ parking lot and start heading down the mountain. Five miles down the way, you will come across Vogel State Park on your left. Swing into the park for some great views over Lake Trahlyta. You can hike around the lake and on the far end check out the falls.

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After leaving Vogel, take a left out of the park onto US-19N/US-129N. In a few miles, take a right on GA-180 and follow signs for Brasstown Bald Visitor’s Center. Brasstown Bald is the highest point in Georgia and offer spectacular views. It is advisable to check in with the Visitor’s Center before committing to the drive up to the peak if it is wintertime. The road up to Brasstown Bald, GA-180 spur, is incredible steep and is the first road in all of Georgia to be shut down during inclement weather. But, if the weather during your visit allows, the crystal clear winter views from the top of Brasstown Bald on the tower are breath taking.

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Backtrack down the steep GA-180 Spur and take a right to retrace your steps on GA-180 until you see GA-348 on your left and turn left. This is the second most likely road to be closed in Georgia during inclement weather but as you will see with Brasstown Bald, this also means it offers the best views in Georgia. This road will criss cross you over the Appalachian Trail in two places. The first will be Tesnatee Gap on your right. If you pull off into this parking area and begin walking on the AT to your right, it will bring you to Cow Rock in 1 mile. It is a steep climb, but a great hike to warm you up, get your blood flowing and give your some great views of the mountains. If you aren’t in the mood for a hike, continue driving a short ways to Hog Pen Gap. You may see people Ice Climbing if it is the middle of Winter and you can catch from great views without having to leave the car. The third pull over (the first of them to be on your right and the one that is past the AT) will provide you with the ability to swoop through in your car and snap some grandiose photos.

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If you continue down GA-348 you will soon come across several chances to view waterfalls. Once you have descended from the high mountains, on your right you will seen signs for the Dukes Creek Falls Recreation Area nearly immediately followed by Raven Cliff Falls Recreation Area. Dukes Creek is approximately 1 mile out and 1 mile back to view the falls and Raven Cliff is 3.5 miles out and 3.5 miles back but both hikes are relatively east. Raven Cliff in particular has little to no elevation gain.

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After getting your fill of the falls, keep on GA-348 until it T’s into GA-75A. Turn right onto GA-75 Alternate and follow it to GA-129 N, taking another right. In no time this will loop you back to Turner’s Corner, where you will take a left back onto US-19S towards Dahlonega. Retrace your steps back to town for dinner or to get back to 400 and head home. This is a great little route to show you some new places to have fun in the mountains, even in the winter!

Find This Route On Google Maps!

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The Perfect Mountain Vacation Near MTX

This time of year at Mountain Crossings we get a fair amount of drive up traffic from folks vacationing in the local area. As the weather cools and Autumn sets in, this grows with the amount of people coming up to view the changing leaves. If you’re planning a trip to the area, here is a guide of Things To Do as told by the local staff up here at Mountain Crossings. Click on any underlined words in this post to get ore information!

Places Within A Stone’s Throw of The Shop

Helton Creek is a waterfall 2 miles North of Mountain Crossings. After turning off of 129/19 and into a small cabin community, the road becomes dirt and you follow it to a small parking lot. The walk to the falls is very short and the pay off is spectacular! Beware, the road is rough but any car is capable of making it.

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Desoto Falls is a three part waterfall and rustic campground (no hook ups for electricity). The falls are broken up in to two parts, the upper and the lower. The hike is only 2.5 round trip if you visit both. The lower falls sports two drops and has a steeper climb, but the upper falls is a moderate walk with a beautiful, tall falls at the end.

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Brasstown Bald is the tallest mountain in Georgia and has an observation tower on the top. From the parking lot below you can either hike up the path to the top or take the shuttle. An interpretive display is on top of the mountain and a gift shop sits below at the parking lot. It is an excellent hike for the entire family.

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Pappy’s Trading Post is the epitome of family fun. A collective of interesting shops offer something for everyone. Check out the general store for nicknacks or the olde time candy shop for fudge. Visit the gift and craft shops and feed the carp in Nottley River. Just walking around the place is fun!

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Sunrise Grocery is an excellent little stop along the winding mountain roads. This little roadside grocery has been a staple in our community since the 1920’s. They offer fresh fruits and veggies seasonally, old time candies and are famous for their boiled peanuts!

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Paradise Hills Winery is one of our favorite of many wineries in the area. They offer cabin rentals and spa services but we always go for the wine tours! In the summer time they often times have concert series and other weekly festivities.

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Outdoor/Adventure Options 

Cartecay River Experience in Ellijay, GA offers the best tubing in North Georgia! They are a laidback bunch of folks ready to set you up with an afternoon of sun, fun and relaxation as you float the best tubing river in the area. It’s not too slow, not too fast and promises to satisfy the thrill seeker and the sun tanner alike!

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Ocoee Rafting in Ducktown, TN is the best outpost on the wild and wet Ocoee River! The experience of the guides is sure to offer you the trip you are looking for, whether that be a fun yet safe trip down the river or a wild ride you won’t soon forget. The outpost feels like a beautiful mountain cabin with breath taking views of the mountainous surroundings. It is an afternoon to remember!

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Blue Ridge Zip Line Canopy Tours is a whole new kind of adventure for most! With over 6000 ft. of lines, you can choose the length of your trip and tailor it to the members of your party, but remember, over coming your fears is a good thing! Fly through the beautiful forest of North Georgia for an afternoon. You can even double book a trip with the rafting company and have the ultimate day of adventure!

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North Georgia Water Sports has everything you could possibly need for a great day on Lake Nottley. They offer rentals of boats, jet skis, canoes, kayaks and more! And don’t forget about their guided fishing tours.

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Nearby Towns Worth Visiting

Blairsville is where we call home so we may be a bit biased, but it is an up and coming town for tourism in North Georgia. Some of our favorite neighbors to check out would be Bearding Bottle Shop for all your beer needs, American Catch for the best (and freshest!) seafood you will ever have in the mountains and Meeks Park.

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Blue Ridge is a great little mountain town for shopping and dinning. Main street and the depot offer many food options and gift shops of all sorts. You can even take a train ride into the quaint little town of McCaysville/Copper Hill along the Taccoa River.

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Helen is one of North Georgia’s more unique little towns. It is fashioned after a Bavarian town and every building in the downtown city center follows the trend. If you are looking for a good German beer, this is your place. They also offer copious shopping and dinning experiences.

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Dahlonega is another little mountain town with a great downtown area for dinning and shop. It was the location of the biggest gold boom in North Georgia and has tons of history to meet with its modern day past times.

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