Perfect weekend in Hiawassee

This weekend started after lunch Friday. We checked traffic in Atlanta, but it was already bad, so the GPS routed us through Gray, to Athens, to Helen and in to Hiawassee. We arrived and got settled in at The Ridges Resort on Lake Chatuge. After we relaxed, we headed over to the Copper Door in Hayesvile, NC for our dinner reservations. Dinner was good and the experience they provide is one you will always remember.

The Copper Door Serves dinner Tuesday through Saturday evening. They offer a rotating, four course prix fixe menu for $65 per person plus 20% gratuity. The service is phenomenal. Their menu changes every week.

After dinner we headed back to get relaxed and rested for our early morning.

Saturday morning we set out for breakfast and then to find Blue Hole and High Shoals Falls. It was really easy to find, but we had to drive the convertible through a huge puddle of water. Hubby walked trough the water first so we could ensure the depth and that the car would make it. I would recommend you not drive a low vehicle here. We made it but water was very close to the bottom of the door.

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Once you finish driving down the dirt road, you come to a parking area. There are only about 4-5 spots, but people park all along the road as well. We got there early so we had a parking spot.

The adventure begins at a trailhead off the graveled Forest Road 283 just south of Hiawassee, Georgia. From the trailhead, the trail begins a steady descent through a forest of towering old-growth trees and gnarly-branched mountain laurel. The trail hangs a hard right at just under a quarter-mile, meandering through wide switchbacks and following occasional green trail blazes.

The sound of rushing water grows louder as the hike nears High Shoals Creek. The trail reaches the creek’s banks at a half-mile, swinging northbound. The route passes a large campsite before crossing through the creek.

After crossing the creek, the hike passes several more trailside campsites. The trail winds through dense thickets of leathery-leafed rhododendron as it descends.

The trail crosses a small wooden bridge before reaching a side path at just under one mile. The hike turns left, following the side trail and dropping elevation to Blue Hole Falls. Mosses and ferns line the path in shades of vibrant green, a contrast with the red and orange-hued, iron-rich soil and boulders of the creek valley.

This hike follows the High Shoals Falls Trail through a lush, mossy creek valley to one of Georgia’s most beautiful waterfalls. And on the way, the hike passes some prime backpacking campsites, some of our favorites in North Georgia. And it visits the smaller yet equally beautiful Blue Hole Falls, a single-drop waterfall that cascades into a deep, turquoise pool.

Blue Hole Falls

Departing Blue Hole Falls, the hike retraces to the main trail and turns left to continue to High Shoals Falls. At just over one mile, the route turns left to descend to the waterfall through switchbacks and down rustic stone stairs.

The roaring sound of falling water amplifies through the valley. The tree canopy opens up to reveal High Shoals Falls at 1.35 miles. The waterfall drops more than fifty feet in a series of cascades, casting mist into the mountain breeze.

Relaxing at High Shoal Falls
High Shoals Falls

Departing the waterfall, the trail retraces its steps to the main trail and follows its outbound steps in reverse. It’s a steady, nearly unrelenting climb to the trailhead, gaining over 500 feet elevation. The hike reaches the trailhead and parking area at 2.4 miles, completing the adventure.

The hike is moderate and I had quite sore calves after this hike! If you’re used to hills, you will be fine. Make sure to take water in with you.

After we hiked, it was lunch time, so we headed to Paris & Company for lunch. Paris and company is located on the property of Cane Creek Vineyards. Lunch was tasty and then we headed down to the tasting room for some more wine. The wine was tasty too and the views were stunning! This is a must see if you’re in the area.

View from Paris & Company
View from tasting room porch

After lunch we headed back to the resort so we could shower and I could get ready for my Milky Way workshop. The weather started to get nasty, so I was unsure of how the workshop was going to turn out…but it was not cancelled, so the least I could do was go up and see what I saw.

When I got to the top of Brasstown Bald, it was raining, so we stood undercover until the rain would let up. I made it up to the top for some sunset photos, but then the rain forced up back under cover. They gave some editing tips, but most of us headed out early seeing the clouded sky and the low probability the Milky Way would be able to be seen. Because of the weather and not getting in a full class, Chris and Jason said we could come back to another session later in the month to try again.

After the workshop, I headed back to the Resort. Got ready for bed and called it a night. The morning would be here before we knew it.

I woke up early and was able to capture the sunrise on Lake Chatuge.

Once we got packed up, we headed to Bell Mountain.

From Bell Mountain,you can see the vast expanse of Lake Chatuge.

We headed out and stopped at Anna Ruby Falls in Helen on our way home. I have visited before, but my hubby hadn’t, so we went so he could see it. I will never pass up photographing a waterfall, even if I’ve seen it before. All these waterfall images were captured on my iPhone. If you would like a photo tutorial on how to capture the long exposure on your phone, reach out, I’d love to help,

The .4 mile path to Anna Ruby is all paved. It is not easy, there are hills, but since it is so short, it isn’t too bad to get to.

Anna Ruby Falls marks the junction of Curtis and York Creeks. Both creeks begin on Tray Mountain and are fed by underground springs, rain, and snow. Curtis Creek drops 153 feet and York Creek 50 feet to form the twin waterfalls known as Anna Ruby Falls. From the falls, Smith Creek tumbles downhill to Unicoi Lake and then to the Chattahoochee River.

We planned on eating on the way home, but we just weren’t hungry. We waited and stopped at one of our favorite local eating establishments, Metropolis, to eat some Indian food for dinner when we got back into town.

As usual, we squeeze in as much as we can in all of our trips.I don’t travel to relax, when I travel, I squeeze in as much as I can. I have plenty of time to relax when I’m home.

Until our next adventure, get out there to make your own adventure!

Tell me where you go and what you get to see.

XOXO

-S

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