Things to Do in North Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains
Are you planning a trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia? In this guide, I’ll be sharing a few of the best motorcycle roads, scenic drives, things to do, places to stay, and more!
In October 2020, I had the opportunity to work as a photographer on a project to showcase North Georgia from a motorcycling perspective. This was my first time in the area and was truly shocked at how beautiful it was. Endless twisty roads, waterfalls, roadside overlooks with endless mountain views…how did this magical place completely skip my radar?!
North Georgia is undoubtedly home to some of the best motorcycle roads in the United States. While most people associate the Peach State with flat lowlands, North Georgia is truly the crown jewel of the state.
Where are the Blue Ridge Mountains?
A part of the great Appalachian Mountain Range, the Blue Ridge Mountains span 620 miles from Maryland to Georgia. Many people associate the Blue Ridge Mountains with the Blue Ridge Parkway and Smoky Mountains. However, just north of Atlanta lies the southernmost tip of the Blue Ridge range.
The Blue Ridge Mountains in North Georgia are primarily located within the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, which is a vast and diverse forested area covering approximately 867,000 acres! While there are plenty of paved roadways and destinations to explore, plenty of things to see and do are off the beaten path.
🎶 “Well we went down ridin’ in the Chattahoochee…” – it has a good ring to it, doesn’t it?!
For reference, here are mileage and timeframes to get to Two Wheels of Suches in Suches, GA from nearby areas:
- From Atlanta, GA: 80 Miles or 1.5 Hours
- From Chattanooga, TN: 110 Miles or 2.5 Hours
- From Cherokee, NC (Southern Terminus of the Blue Ridge Parkway): 100 Miles or 2 Hours
What is the Best Time of Year to Visit the Blue Ridge Mountains?
It’ll depend on your preferences, but Spring, Summer, and Fall are the most popular.
- Spring: Late April and May, when the wildflowers begin to bloom and the forest begins to come to life with vibrant green leaves, is a great time to ride the Blue Ridge Mountains. Temperatures will be cooler during the day, and at night it can be chilly.
- Summer: Summer is the most popular time for those who enjoy water activities and warmer temperatures.
- Fall: If you love to leaf peep, October tends to be the best time to see the fall foliage in North Georgia. My trip to the area was in early October, and we were still a bit early to see the foliage on full display that year. Every year is different, so if you want to see the vibrant fall colors, pay attention to the foliage predictions as they become available in the region.
- Winter: The Winter months bring cold temperatures and sometimes snow to the higher elevations. This isn’t the most ideal time to plan a motorcycle trip to the area.
The Most Popular Motorcycle Roads in North Georgia
- Suches Loop or “Georgia’s Dragon”: This popular route encompasses portions of three of the best motorcycle roads in the Blue Ridge Mountains:
- Morganton Highway (US Highway 60): From Stonepile Gap to Suches. At Stonepile Gap, you’ll notice an actual pile of stones in the middle of the road, which is the gravesite of Cherokee princess Trahlyta.
- Wolf Pen Gap (GA-180): Undoubtedly one of the most popular stretches of roadway. The route itself is roughly 20 miles long. You can continue to take this roadway to Brasstown Bald.
- Gainsville Highway (US Highway 19): The most popular portion of this route is from Dahlonega to Vogel State Park, where the highway intersects Wolf Pen Gap Road.
- Richard Russell Scenic Byway (GA-348): This 40-mile National Scenic Byway carves through the Blue Ridge Mountains. At the Northern Terminus, you’ll be checking out panoramic views from atop Brasstown Bald. At the southern terminus, you’re just a few miles south of Helen.
- Unicoi Turnpike (GA-75): Traveling from Brasstown Bald, Highway 75 will twist and turn it’s way into the town of Helen. You could complete this loop by taking the Richard Russell Scenic Byway back north!
Check out more rides via Butler Maps! I love these maps because they’re designed by motorcyclists, for motorcyclists.
If you’re looking for ADV routes, I’d recommend checking out the REVER App. Additionally, a REVER Pro Membership will allow you to see ALL the Butler Maps as “Incredible Roads” in the app!
The Best Things to Do in Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains:
Hang out or Motorcycle Camp at Two Wheels of Suches
North Georgia has been named one of the best riding regions in the country, and Two Wheels of Suches is the motorcycling “hub” of the region.
One of the most famous motorcycle campgrounds in the country is nestled in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Two Wheels of Suches features camping, cabins, and a bathhouse, all of which are only accessible by motorcycle. The Lodge also features a few rooms that are available year-round, in addition to a popular restaurant that packs the parking lot on weekends.
There is a small gas station and convenience store across the street, which I would highly recommend filling up at. Gas stations are few and far between in these mountains, so top off when you can. Especially if you have a smaller gas tank!
Any Georgia local will tell you that visiting Helen should be a part of your Blue Ridge Mountain itinerary! Known for its Bavarian-inspired architecture, Helen transports visitors to a little slice of Germany in North Georgia.
Helen is centrally located to many of the great motorcycle roads in the Blue Ridge mountains and has plenty of lodging and food options if you want to make it a central hub for your trip.
Helen is also home to the Two Tire Tavern, a popular “biker bar” in the area, and they serve brats if you’re feeling festive. You’ll definitely want to try at least one of the numerous Bavarian-themed eateries in town!
If you visit in the summer, tubing the Chattahoochee River is a popular activity. In the Fall, the town comes to life with fall foliage and its famed Oktoberfest festival.
Tallulah Gorge State Park
Tallulah Gorge is two miles long and nearly 1,000 feet deep and is considered one of the most spectacular canyons in the eastern United States. It features a stair-centric hiking trail that allows you to enter the gorge and view numerous waterfalls and scenery.
Be prepared for a workout, though. Just to get to the famed swinging gorge bridge, you’ll be going down quite a few sets of stairs. There’s a total of 1,099 stairs from the top of the gorge, to the floor. Bring water, take in the views, and enjoy!
Before or after seeing Tallulah Falls, I’d recommend stopping at the Rusty Bike Cafe in Clayton. This moto-themed eatery is a must-stop in the area and has GREAT cafe-style food!
Chase some Waterfalls & Swimmin’ Holes
If Tallulah River Gorge sparks your desire to chase some waterfalls or perhaps find a swimming hole to cool off in, you’re in luck. There are over 100 named waterfalls in North Georgia! You can use Google to find an extensive list of waterfalls, but here’s a few to get you started:
- Water’s Creek Falls: Swimming Hole + Waterfall
- Helton Creek Falls: Swimming Hole + Waterfall
- Vogel State Park: Great for swimming
- Amicalola Falls: The highest waterfall in Georgia! Located in a state park, it can get pretty packed since it’s the most notable of all the waterfalls in the state.
- Go Tubing in Helen: As mentioned, this is a “thing” to do in the little German town!
- Bridal Veil Falls: Located deep within the Tallulah Gorge, only 100 permits are distributed per day to get to this swimming hole. You’ll have to really work to get to this one.
If you’re on an adventure bike or are comfortable riding on gravel roads, you’ll be able to access numerous waterfalls around the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Take in Panoramic Views Atop Brasstown Bald
Sitting at 4,784 feet above sea level, Brasstown Bald is the highest mountain in Georgia. On a clear day, you can see 4 different states from the observation tower: Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee. If you’re lucky, you might be able to see the Atlanta Skyline as well.
Once you park, you can take a shuttle to the summit, or hike the half-mile Summit Trail. If you choose to take the shuttle, there is a $7 fee which includes entry to the area in addition to a shuttle ride. You can learn more, here.
Alternatively, if you’d like a free spot to take in some epic panoramic mountain views, Bell Mountain is a great alternative.
Where to Stay in North Georgia
There are endless ways to stay in North Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains! On our three-day trip, we camped at Two Wheels of Suches, a USFS campground on night two, then utilized an Air BnB cabin on our final evening.
If motorcycle camping is on your agenda, the number one motorcycle destination in North Georgia is Two Wheels of Suches. You can reserve a cabin or tent camp at this motorcycle-only lodging establishment. They also have a large, clean bathhouse on the property.
There are numerous privately owned and federally managed campgrounds nestled into the mountains. From HipCamp, KOA, The Dyrt, and Recreation.gov, there are plenty of ways to find a campsite that will work for you. You can read more about how I find campsites on motorcycle trips, here.
If you’re looking for more established lodging, like Hotels or a Bed & Breakfast, there are hundreds of options to choose from. Here are a few popular towns for lodging:
- Blue Ridge, GA: Located on the western edge of the region, Blue Ridge is located on the western edge of the region. It’s home to craft breweries, a thriving arts scene, and the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.
- Ellijay, GA: This town is just south of Blue Ridge and offers plenty of lodging options and places to eat.
- Helen, GA: As I mentioned previously, this German-themed mountain town is the most popular destination in North Georgia. It’s centrally located to the best motorcycle roads and scenic byways, making it a great hub for your trip.
- Hiawassee: this little town is nestled between mountains and lakes and is near the North Carolina border.