Cohutta Chattahoochee Scenic Byway
Trace the steps of the Civil War to the Apple Capital of Georgia
|Mileage||56 miles (91 km)|
|DurationThe duration is an estimate of a one-way drive and does not include any stops or side-trips.||1 hour, 18 minutes|
|SeasonsThe seasons listed are the best seasons for this scenic drive. If Winter is not mentioned, the road may be closed during the winter.||All Seasons|
|Roadways||Georgia Highways 2, 52, and 71, US Highway 41, Chattanooga Road, and North Dalton Street|
|ServicesThe cities or towns listed have either Food or Services such as gas, pharmacies, etc.||Ringgold, GA▼, Ooltewah, TN▼, Collegedale, TN▼, Dalton, GA▼, Chatsworth, GA▼, Ellijay, GA▼, and Gartrell, GA▼|
3.4 average from 55 votes
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This drive travels through the stunning Chattahoochee and Oconee National Forests. Amid gentle rolling peaks, explore lush forest and streams with a relaxing stroll, kayak on the Ocoee River or enjoy the misty thrill of white-water rafting. Discover Native American history and trace the steps of the Civil War.
Close to the Tennessee border, our drive begins in Cohutta on GA-2 heading east traveling along the Cohutta-Chattahoochee Scenic Byway to Ellijay.
Our first stop is the historic Prater’s Mill (A5). Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, observe a working 19th-century grist mill, a cotton gin and general store. Built in 1855, the water-powered mill was instrumental in developing the agricultural economy of the region. Open Thursday-Sunday, there is an entrance fee which includes guided tour. The second full weekend in October is host to the lively Prater’s Mill County Fair. Enjoy mountain music, living history exhibits, art and craft demonstrations, and authentic Southern food. The mill was used as a campsite during the Civil War and is located on the Blue and Gray Trail which travels from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Atlanta, Georgia, highlighting Civil War battlefields, monuments, cemeteries, museums and more.
Continue on US-411. Along the route, stock up on picnic goodies at local produce stands offering seasonal delights such as apples, corn and of course sweet Georgia peaches. The quaint town of Chatsworth is known as the gateway to the Appalachians and here you’ll find restaurants, lodging and services. Preserving the heritage of Cherokee Indians is Chief Vann House Historic Site (A4). Built in 1804 for James Vann, an Indian leader and owner of the most prosperous plantation in the Cherokee nation, the restored elegant mansion features handcrafted carvings, a floating staircase and antiques. The site includes a museum with film and interpretive exhibits. There is an entrance fee.
If you’re interested in other Civil War sites, don’t miss the nearby town of Dalton. The Dalton Confederate Cemetery and Memorial Wall (A2) contains the grave-sites of 241 Confederate soldiers and 4 unknown soldiers. At the Historic Western and Atlantic Railroad Tunnel (A1), discover Civil War artifacts and walk through a 1,477-foot tunnel. Visit the Blunt House (M2), the second oldest house in Dalton (open Fridays or call to arrange a tour on other days) or the Hamilton House Museum (M1) which became the headquarters for Brig. Gen. J. H. Lewis (open Saturdays or call to arrange a tour on other days). At Dug Gap Battle Park (H1), see original stone fortifications built by the Confederates between 1863-1864 and take in expansive views from the top of Dug Gap Mountain. More information can be found at the historic Dalton Freight Depot Visitor Center (A3) along with restored train cars.
Turn left onto GA-52 towards Fort Mountain State Park (H2), named for an 855-foot-long wall of loose rocks that archaeologists believe was built as a fortification by Woodlands Indians in 500 A.D. Over 3,700-acres offer walking and hiking trails for every level of ability. Take the easy 1.2-mile loop Lake Trail which is also accessible if traveled clockwise. The lake is open for swimming and boating and rentals are available on-site. Up for more of a challenge? Try the 8.2-mile Gahuti Trail. This moderate to strenuous back-country hike delivers extraordinary views, passing streams and waterfalls. Or hike to a stone fire tower built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. There are also bike, equestrian, and other back-country trails which require a permit. This park makes a great overnight stop with tent or RV camping and cottage rentals. Take part in seasonal events and educational programs such as learning about Georgia’s gold mining past and a nifty First-Time Camper program. There is a small entrance fee valid for all state parks visited that day.
Our drive officially ends in Ellijay, the “Apple Capital” of Georgia which grows over 600,000 bushels of apples each year. Visit the many apple houses along “Apple Alley” and taste the different varieties. Many orchards are open seasonally for picking strawberries, apples and to procure jams, jellies, baked goods, fresh veggies, and local crafts. In downtown Ellijay, don’t miss the Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Celebrating the harvest, The Apple Festival is held the 2nd and 3rd full weekends in October. The climate and soil are also ripe for growing wine grapes and you can sample the “terroir” at local vineyards. The historic town center features unique shopping, dining, outfitters, art galleries, and more.
Consider a side trip that continues north on GA-515 to Lake Blue Ridge (W1). Azure glistens from this picturesque mountain lake, a draw for water sports galore such as swimming, boating, fishing, white-water rafting, jet skiing, stand-up paddle boarding and more. Equipment is available for rent on site. A complete vacation destination, there are also hiking trails, camping and lodging rentals and a delightful downtown with unique shops.
Nearby, is the Russel-Brasstown Scenic Byway which delivers breathtaking views of Georgia’s highest mountain, Brasstown Bald or head south to Amicalola Falls State Park. At 729-feet, Amicalola Falls is the tallest cascading waterfall in the Southeast.