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All about autumn
Short ride north to Blue Ridge is ideal fall day trip
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Kayaking on the peaceful Toccoa River gives adventure on the river a good and safe reputation. - photo by Kristen Berry

Summer is over, but that’s no reason to get the blues.

Plan a day trip to Blue Ridge and you just might find yourself falling for the promise of autumn.

In Blue Ridge, you can set your own venue for a relaxing lazy day or an afternoon filled with adventure on the Toccoa River with fishing or kayaking.

Better yet, you can do both, and it’s as easy as catching a train at the Blue Ridge Depot.

It only takes about an hour and a half to get to Blue Ridge from Forsyth County, and everything from casual restaurants and shopping, to hotel accommodations and fine dining is waiting there once you arrive. 

A short 75-mile drive up highway I-575/Ga.515 will take you to the small town of Blue Ridge, where the spirit of fall is best captured by a breath of fresh air aboard the scenic railway.

Now is the time to make reservations as the cars book fast while autumn is setting in.

“We recommend advance reservations just before October because everyone wants to experience the leaf season and we fill up fast,” said Pat Moore, conductor of the scenic railway.

The train leaves daily from the historic 100-year-old depot in downtown Blue Ridge.

Open air and vintage climate-controlled cars take passengers on an hour-long ride through the mountains next to the glassy green water of the Toccoa River.

Hosts aboard each railway car give passengers a history lesson on Blue Ridge. Kids love to visit the concession car where they can get a snack or souvenir.

The train stops in the twin border towns of McCaysville and Copperhill, Tenn., where passengers have two hours to explore the town and have some lunch.

Afterward, the train heads back to Blue Ridge, where passengers can round out the day with a stroll through one of the many unique shops in town or enjoy the scenery with a cup of coffee at Great Eats Delicatessen and Bakery.

If you’re seeking more activity, Rolling Thunder River Company has got you covered.

They will arrange your train ride and get you back to Blue Ridge via a raucous river ride down the Ocoee River or a peaceful float down the Toccoa River.

Either way, everything is taken care of for you and it’s always a nice getaway when someone else does all the planning.

“This is where we come when we want to unwind because it’s easy and we don’t have to work at anything but relaxing once we get here,” said Dawn Lawry, an accounts manager with McKesson Corp., who travels frequently.

The Toccoa River can be calm or wild depending on when water is released from the Blue Ridge Dam. The Tennessee Valley Authority releases water daily and a schedule is available online at

Keep in mind that schedules change frequently without notice, so the closer you are to the dam, the more caution you should exercise near and around the river.

As always, it never hurts to don a life jacket, which of course only adds to your piece of mind for total relaxation.

Blue Ridge fun doesn’t end at the train station.

Horseback riding is another well-planned activity in Blue Ridge.

From twilight rides to overnight camping rides, stables in Blue Ridge accommodate every age and experience level for an effortless day at the reins.

There is no better way to reduce your heart rate than to take in the sounds and scenery of the leaves in the fall. Blue Ridge is one of those places that has perfected the relaxation process for visitors, and that’s a key ingredient in getting away from it all.

“There’s nothing like a lazy trail ride through the hills and valleys,” said Misty Callihan, owner of Adventure Trail Rides.

If you are a golfer, plan a day on the course and even a few nights at the Brasstown Valley Resort. The resort features all the amenities from spa packages and luxury rooms to weddings and a concert series.

Keep in mind that a day trip should be easy to plan and most of all it should be fun.

The best thing about Blue Ridge is that it’s so close to home and little is required for preparation to see some of the most beautiful fall foliage in Georgia.

In today’s fast-paced lifestyle, it’s nice to know a spur of the moment trip toward a destination of peace and quite is practically in your own backyard.