Northeast Georgia is a paradise for anyone who likes to travel – especially those of us who enjoy short road trips. There are countless drives in our area that you can enjoy during any season.
Road Trip: Gainesville to Blairsville
Gainesville to Blairsville is one of our favorite little drives. First off – you begin and end in two of Northeast Georgia\’s neatest little towns. On the southern end is Gainesville, the largest city in Northeast Georgia situated at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the shores of Lake Lanier – and on the northern end is Blairsville, tucked away in the mountains between Lake Nottely and Lake Chatuge. Gainesville sits in Hall County and Blairsville is in Union County.
Here is a summary of our Road Trip:
The trip itself is relatively short. Starting from I-985 in Gainesville and driving straight into the square in downtown Blairsville – it\’s only about 60 miles…but don\’t think you are gonna scoot up there in a hour. Not a chance.
First off there is traffic to consider in both Gainesville and Cleveland. Cleveland can be quite the little bottleneck just before you get to the town square – but be patient – it will eventually move.
Then there is the issue of driving over Blood Mountain – in between Cleveland and Blairsville. This is the definition of a curvy mountain road. Slow going here – and you will want to pay special attention for bikers and motorcycles.
Finally, it\’s the beautiful scenery and the cool little stops that will make your short road trip last longer than you expect. From great pull offs for photographs to awesome food and some fantastic shopping…you don\’t want to rush this trip.
Figure on about an hour and a half if you don\’t stop for lunch. You may be quicker but we doubt it – there are a couple of must stops on the way and you will probably add a couple of stops for breath-taking views or photography.
What to See and Do:
If you have never been to Gainesville – you have to go check out the town square. It\’s a couple of miles off of our path but it is well worth the effort.
Once you leave Gainesville you will be heading north on Hwy 129 towards Cleveland – leaving Hall County and heading into White County. When you get to Cleveland if you are ready to eat – Glenda\’s is the place! Enjoy some fantastic country cooking at affordable prices. Once you leave Cleveland you will be heading north once again towards Blairsville. About 15 miles up the road you will see a place called Turners Corner Cafe – it\’s alive and well today but it had been closed for quite some time. It used to be very good but we can\’t vouch for it…yet. It\’s in a really neat spot right on the river – I believe that\’s Dicks Creek to be exact.
Once you head north from Turners Corner – you hit the curvy mountain road! Take your time and watch for bikes and motorcycles – enjoy the scenery. There are several pull offs that will allow you to take in the views or load up the digital camera. It\’s about 8 miles to the top (Neels Gap) where you will find Mountain Crossings and the Appalachian Trail. Not an option. You have to stop here. Just before you reach the top at Mountain Crossings you might want to stop at Blood Mountain Cabins – it\’s on the right. They have a really cool store and it\’s worth a visit.
Once you start your descent down from Neels Gap it\’s only about 2 miles on your left – Desoto Falls. This is a fabulous little hike – very short – very easy – and the end result are two gorgeous waterfalls (upper and lower falls). There is also a nice campground here with a beautiful stream. Totally worth the stop.
Leaving Desoto Falls and heading north again it\’s only about 5 more miles before you may want to stop again. On your left will be Vogel State Park and Lake Trahlyta – many people, including myself, consider this to be the best State Park in Georgia. You name it – they got it.
Tired of getting in and out of the car? Not so fast. We have yet another stop before getting to Blairsville! Another short 5 miles on your left is Pappy\’s Trading Post and Pappy\’s Riverside Restaurant located right on the banks of the Nottely River! Really neat place with some pretty good food.
We are now ready to hit Blairsville! Boy that was a long 60 miles. So we drive into Blairsville right to the town square. My experience has been that if you are up that way on a Saturday there is almost always something going on. Blairsville is one of my favorite towns in northeast Georgia. It\’s got the quaint small town atmosphere but you still have the WalMart and Home Depot if you want them. Definitely a place we could call home someday.
Once you get into town there are several places to say and some awesome dining options. If you take the main hwy (Hwy 76) to the west you will end up in Blue Ridge GA and if you take Hwy 76 east you will find yourself driving thru Young-Harris, Hiawassee, and on into Clayton. (Another of my favorite drives).
We hope you enjoy your road trip – come back here and post your experiences below. Be safe. Have fun.