What a spectacular day. We are just awe struck at the beauty of the region. Our plan today was to drive to Blairsville, Helen, Dahlonega and back by way of a route through the middle of the Chattahoochee National Forest on GA-60 and Aska Road. (Click here to see the planned route on Google Maps)
The trip to Blairsville was uneventful until we snap a photo of the Historic Union County Court House.
From Blairsville, we drove south GA-11, US-129, US-19, better known as the Gainsville Hwy, for about 7.5 miles. Then turned east on State Route 180 for about a mile to make our connection to GA-348/Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway. This highway winds 14.1 miles through the Chattahoochee National Forest climbing from 2,040 feet to 3,644 feet. There are a few spots to pull over and take in the view.
Naturally we stopped to take in the beauty. I cannot tell you the names of the peaks in the distance. We enjoyed the view and did not worry about their names. We started our descent into Helen and saw this sign on the side of the highway.
I actually drove past it at first. Carol and chatted a bit and we decide to turn back to check it out. Carol is not one to climb or hike trails so I took off and found an observation deck where I got this shot of the falls in the distance.
From the observation deck, I followed a trail for about 1 mile that dropped around 400 feet on three switchbacks. The view of the forest along the trail was amazing. All the way down, I kept thinking, "I'll never make it back up." When I got to the bottom, the view was… Well, you decide. Here is a sampling of the photos I got.
Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Yes, it was pretty chilly down there. At the top, the temperature was hovering in the low 50's. I would guess it was in the mid 40's at the bottom. For more info abut Dukes Creek Falls, click here. On the climb up, I kept thinking about how thankful I am that I've been climbing the pastures at Windy Valley Llamas. My legs held up and I did not pass out. I will be doing more hiking.
While I was busy hiking, Carol got a few shots of Yonah Mountain. Yonah is the Cherokee word for bear.
We pulled into Helen about 1 1/2 hours later than planned. What a cool little town. It looks like a small German village. Absolutely brought us back to our time in Europe in the 70's.
We grabbed some lunch at a Bavarian Restaurant. While there, we got a chance to tell some folks about our stay in Blue Ridge. It is always cool to share our story.
After lunch, we checked out a few of the shops, then stopped at Habersham Winery where I tasted a few of their wines. I came home with a bottle of Habersham Signet.
Then we walked across the street to Jumpin Goat Coffee Roasters where I picked up some small bags of their coffee for tasting
Then we went next door to the Nora Mill Granary Grist Mill & Country Store. A bag of Pioneer Porridge followed us back to the truck.
By then it was 3:0PM and our dogs were barking. That is when we decided the rest of the loop would be done on another trip. On the way back, we found a cool RV park that is reserved exclusively for Air Stream products - Top of Georgia Airstream Park.
Our return trip was on GA-75 and GA-180. GA-180 has been designated a National Scenic Byway and a Georgia Scenic Byway. We videoed the journey up and down. I'll post links to the trip once I get them uploaded to YouTube.
As we travel through the southern peaks of the Appalachian Mountain range, I cannot help but think of the pioneers who traversed these routes. They had an amazing spirit that kept them going.
Thanks for stopping by.