Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

For the second year in a row we made a fall trip to River Vista Mountain Village in Dillard to explore the beautiful north Georgia mountains. Last year we explored Black Rock Mountain State Park, visited waterfalls in North Carolina and wandered around Tallulah Gorge State Park.

This year we had adventures in two new places. One day we went to the top of Brasstown Bald. Another day we drove an hour and a half to Blue Ridge, Georgia to take a ride on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.

Our seats were in an open air car for the hour long ride beside the Toccoa River. The train departed the station right on time at 11:00.

As we traveled along at a whopping 10 mph we were able to enjoy the scenery and snap a few photos. A few trees were starting to show signs of autumn but we were too early for the brilliant oranges, reds and yellows that will come later in the season.

Our destination was McCaysville, GA/Copperhill, TN. There was plenty of time to explore the town before the scheduled 2:00 departure. It’s hard to tell which town is which since the state line runs right through the middle of town.

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GA/TN state line

As we wandered around the town we crossed back and forth between Georgia and Tennessee several times. The state line even runs through the middle of some buildings. “Dine on the Line” is the motto for the Copper Grill restaurant where we had lunch. Their address is Tennessee but the state line goes right through the restaurant.

It was nice to sit back and relax on the return trip to Blue Ridge. Before driving back to Dillard we walked across the street from the depot for some fried apple pies from the Mercier Orchard downtown restaurant and store. These pies have been featured on the Food Network and are melt in your mouth delicious!

What’s not to love? A scenic train ride, cool mountain air, beautiful scenery, fresh trout and catfish for lunch, going back and forth between two states just by walking through town, and delicious fried pies! A great day!

Going Down into Tallulah Gorge

We were warned!

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We were warned!

We went anyway.

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Going down was the easy part

But only as far as the suspension bridge 80 feet above Hurricane Falls.

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Suspension Bridge over Tallulah Gorge Hurricane Falls
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Henry crossed to the other side of the gorge

With my fear of heights I could only go a few feet on the bridge. I did manage to see the top of Hurricane Falls.

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View of Tallulah Gorge from the suspension bridge
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Looking down on Hurricane Falls from the suspension bridge

I handed Henry the camera for some better pictures.

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Looking down on Hurricane Falls from the suspension bridge
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Looking down on Hurricane Falls from the suspension bridge

I took a picture of the falls from the stairs.

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A view of the top of Hurricane Falls from the stairs

And one of Henry looking down from the bridge.

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Henry on the suspension bridge above Hurricane Falls

We posed for a selfie before starting back up to the top.

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We were smiling before we started back up the stairs to the top
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It’s time to go back up the 310 stairs

We made it back to the top after stopping at a few landings and resting on every bench.

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I was finally able to capture some fall colors on top of the trail

Younger, braver, and more fit people can cross the bridge to the other side and go down 221 more stairs for a view of Hurricane Falls from the bottom. There is also access to the south rim trail on the other side of the bridge. For us, we are glad we made down and back all in one piece!

Wandering in the Georgia and North Carolina Mountains

Before we bought our Titanium fifth wheel in 2006, we attended a rally of Titanium owners at the River Vista Mountain Village in Dillard, Georgia. We stayed in one of the cabins at the park and after meeting the owners and touring their fifth wheels, we made our decision to purchase a Titanium. It was one of the best decisions we ever made!

We returned to River Vista this October for a short fall trip. The RV park is a perfect location for exploring the surrounding area. While we were there I spotted another Titanium on our row. We first met the owners when we came to the rally in 2006 and enjoyed visiting with them before they headed for home. What a small world!

Our mountain adventures began in nearby Mountain City, Georgia at Black Rock Mountain State Park, the highest state park in Georgia. The views of Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains were spectacular and we crossed the Eastern Continental divide a couple of times.

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The Eastern Continental Divide runs through Black Rock Mountain State Park
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Black Rock Mountain State Park

We decided on the spur of the moment to take the quarter mile downhill trail to see Ada-hi Falls. The view of the falls was worth hiking down the damp leaf covered trail.

It always pays to stop at the Visitor’s Center to ask about what to see when you are in a new place. When we asked about things to see, as soon as we heard “gravel road” we knew we had to take it to see Black Rock Lake.

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We can’t resist driving on gravel roads and one took us to Black Rock Lake
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Black Rock Lake

The next day our destination was to see three waterfalls in the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina between Highlands and Franklin. The road from Dillard to Highlands has many sharp turns and steep grades and I wouldn’t recommend taking a big RV on it. Our first stop was the Sky Valley overlook in Georgia for a view before crossing into North Carolina a few miles later.

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Sky Valley Overlook in Georgia on the road to Highlands, NC

Our journey took us to the outskirts of Highlands before turning onto the narrow, twisting Highway 64 towards Franklin. Bridal Veil Falls was the first waterfall we came to but we couldn’t stop because the parking area was full. We continued to Dry Falls in the Nantahala National Forest. The National Forest has built a good size parking area with pit toilets and a handicapped accessible overlook of the falls. To get a closer look at the falls and even walk behind them we walked down a series of stairs and short trail down to the falls.

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Dry Falls near Highlands, NC in the Nantahala National Forest

Our next stop was a few miles down the road at a small waterfall on the Cullasaja River. To see these falls up close we had to park across the road and navigate our way down a short rocky slope.

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Small waterfall beside Hwy 64 between Highlands and Franklin, NC

In order to  return to Bridal Veil Falls we had to drive down the narrow road a short way before finding a place to turn around. This time there was plenty of available parking. Walking behind the falls is allowed but cars can no longer drive behind them.

After returning to Georgia we had one more waterfall to see. Sylvan Falls is located next to the Sylvan Falls Mill Bed and Breakfast in Mountain City just a few miles beyond the campground where we were staying.

Four waterfalls in one day! All were easily accessible with no strenuous hiking involved.

Blue Ridge Parkway, Creek Side Camping and Barbeque in North Carolina

After two days of elk watching in Cataloochee Valley we packed a lunch and set out from our campground in Waynesville for a 40 mile drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway in search of fall colors.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469 mile scenic parkway through the southern Appalachian Mountains in Virginia and North Carolina. The northernmost point of the parkway is Mile 0 in Rockfish Gap near Waynesboro, Virginia. The southernmost point is Mile 469 near Cherokee, North Carolina. There are scenic overlooks, picnic areas, hiking trails, and campgrounds all along the way.

Although we have traversed several sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway in the past we had never been on the area in North Carolina north of the Highest Point at Mile 431. On our journey this time we traveled south from  Mile 408 at Mount Pisgah to Maggie Valley at about Mile 455.

The first order of business was a picnic at the Mount Pisgah picnic area at the top of a short paved trail. After lunch under the trees we started our journey south, stopping at several of the scenic overlooks. It was too early in the year for the peak autumn colors but a few of the leaves were beginning to change.

Fall Colors on Blue Ridge Parkway in NC
Fall Colors on Blue Ridge Parkway in NC

Looking Glass Rock got it’s name because sunlight will reflect off the granite when there is water collected on it.

Looking Glass Rock Blue Ridge Parkway in NC
Looking Glass Rock Blue Ridge Parkway in NC

There was beautiful scenery every where we looked.

Beautiful day for a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC
Beautiful day for a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC

We found a few more fall colors.

A few fall colors on the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC
A few fall colors on the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC

There are many folktales surrounding the Devil’s Courthouse. It was getting late and we decided to skip the trail to the top.

Devil's Courthouse Blue Ridge Parkway in NC
Devil’s Courthouse Blue Ridge Parkway in NC

The picture on the left was taken 8 years ago when we first stopped at the Highest Point of the Blue Ridge Parkway at Mile 431. The one on the right from this visit.

The photo below is the view from the Highest Point.

Highest Point Blue Ridge Parkway in NC
Highest Point Blue Ridge Parkway in NC

A few clouds rolled in as we continued south,

Blue Ridge Parkway in NC
Blue Ridge Parkway in NC

Our home base for exploring Cataloochee Valley and the Blue Ridge Parkway was Creekwood RV Park a few miles north of Waynesville and Maggie Valley. Our site backed up to a beautiful creek. It was a perfect place to relax after a day of wandering.

Of course we had to try some North Carolina barbeque while were were there. The Heywood Smokehouse in Waynesville was recommended and the spareribs, chicken, and brisket were done to perfection. And it turns out the owners are originally from Georgia!

Heywood Smokehouse in Waynesville, NC
Heywood Smokehouse in Waynesville, NC

Beautiful fall weather, bugling elk, scenic drives, camping beside a creek, and delicious barbeque. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Fall Colors at Lake of the Ozarks State Park

Lake of the Ozarks State Park is the largest state park in Missouri. The park has many miles of shoreline as well as many trails for hiking, biking or horseback riding. The rain followed us from Columbia and our hopes of hiking were rained out.

We chose not to pull our fifth wheel on the narrow, winding roads  to  one of the beautiful waterfront sites in the campground. Instead, we stayed in a big site with a view of the woods. We enjoyed watching four deer come out at dusk.

Rock cliffs line the shoreline at Lake of the Ozarks and although we were too early for the fall colors to be at their peak the trees were starting to display the beautiful orange and yellow of autumn.

 

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