From time to time we are going to try and hop in here and give you some ideas on places to check out on a weekend that are all in relative close proximity to each other. While we won’t be as OCD as to give you an hour by hour itinerary, we will give you a loose framework with which you can use as a base for jumping off and creating your own trip without having to criss cross or ride all over the mountains trying to find something to do. In this Weekend Guide, we focus on the area surrounding Blood Mountain – the perfect weekend spot with plenty to check out.
AT Thru-Hiker Kick-off Party: Mountain Crossings is having their annual AT Thru-Hiker Kick-off Party this Saturday from 12-6p. This is a celebration of all the Northbound folks beginning their trek up to Maine who are beginning to pass through Mountain Crossings from Springer Mountain on their way up the Appalachian Trail. They will have live music, gear raffles, a few workshops, and a ton more. This is one of our favorite spots in all of North Georgia and it is positioned perfectly to be a great jumping off spot for the rest of your weekend. Make sure you carpool to this event though as the parking lot at Mountain Crossings is crazy tiny considering how many folks will probably be there. If the lot is full, park in the Blood Mountain Trailhead parking lot about an 1/8th of a mile up (north) US 19 and walk back down the road to Mountain Crossings.
Blood Mountain Hike: Speaking of Blood Mountain, consider giving this hike a try. It’s within walking distance of Mountain Crossings as the Appalachian Trail goes through their building and on up and over Blood Mountain. It is not the easiest hike but you’ll feel better about yourself when you are at the top looking down on the world. Also check out our friend Emily’s photo essay of Blood Mountain from back in the fall.
Boggs Creek: One of our absolute favorite places to ride around because they have multiple creek crossings! Not much hiking to do here but there is a nice gravel trail that runs all along the creek. You should be fine even without 4-wheel drive as we just have a 2-wheel drive crossover and the roads are well maintained. But cars with low clearance should just be smart about it. This doubles as a decent place to camp/sleep. The restrooms are probably closed this time of year so it’ll be on the more primitive side. But it should be plenty quiet this time of year and they have camp pads and fire rings in some spots.
Sunrise Grocery: This is a little north of Blood Mountain on US 19. Sunrise Grocery has been around since at least the 1920s in one capacity or another. You’re not going to find any sit down service here but you can easily piece together a picnic or some snacks to enjoy in the parking lot or as you continue your exploring. It is a great road side store and has a ton of history.
Other: Blood Mountain is kind of situated in no-mans land between Cleveland, Helen, Blairsville, and Hiawassee. Blairsville is the closet city and there are some solid options there. Jim’s Smokin’ Que is the closet from Blood Mountain and Mountain Crossings. They even have mini-golf across the street! Dan’s Grill and Cabin Coffee Co. are two of the other solid spots if you drive north to Blairsville. If you are this close and can deal with the craziness of Helen, Nacoochee Village Tavern & Pizza is well worth the drive as it is one of the two best pizza places we have ever eaten at. The Nora Mill General Store is above the Village Tavern and has all kinds of North Georgia gifts. Nora Mill Granary, JumpinGoat Coffee Roasters, Habersham Winery, ZipNTime and Nacoochee Antiques all offer great places to shop, drink and browse within walking distance. And if you’re into fly fishing, you have to stop at Unicoi Outfitters. We will do an extended Weekend Guide for Helen and Cleveland soon but since most of y’all will be driving back towards Atlanta or Athens from the area, most of you will have to pass through here so you might as well stop and enjoy what they have.
DeSoto Falls: Like Boggs Creek, this can double as a place to hike. There are two waterfalls within the campground and both are relatively short hikes. They have restrooms here but I am not sure if they are opened this time of year. The place is crawling with camp pads and fire pits and is definitely a campground and not primitive camping.
Airbnb: You can check our full list on Airbnb for some great options but here are 3 spots that are centrally located to the area:
We know some of y’all like things off the beaten path (like us) so we are going to try to include things that are outside the norm or places that others simply won’t go. This week, we are going to tell you about Ranger Road 639. This road is south of Blood Mountain on US 19 on the left hand side of the road if you’re going southbound. If you get to DeSoto Falls on the right, you have gone too far. This is more a trail than a road so just look for a small clearing with a gate which should be open right now as there is no snow or ice. There is a little brown sign that says 639. I would not take this road in a car. We took it in our crossover and were never in real bad shape but with all the rain this week, I would be real careful with anything other than 4-wheel drive. But this is a gorgeous drive through thick forest. Waterfalls tumble down from the left every few minutes. There are huge clearings that are forest service maintained for deer and turkey so keep your eyes open. The whole road is only about a 20 minute drive and it spits you back out on 19. But a fun little detour if you have the car for it.
Got any other spots we should check out around Blood Mountain? Leave us a comment or message us on Facebook.