Georgia mountains offer visitors Appalachian culture

June 6, 2011 

One of my favorite places for a summer escape or a fall getaway is the Georgia mountains near Young Harris and Hiawassee. This area is a world away from life in the Lowcountry. Stay at a resort on Lake Chatuge and take a boat ride on the lake surrounded by mountains; hike or take a shuttle to the highest peak in Georgia; and visit wineries, the John C Campbell Folk School, and the Georgia Mountain Fair and Georgia Mountain Fall Festival. There is a lot to do in this land of Appalachia that straddles the Georgia/North Carolina border. Water sports are very popular in this area. Pristine Lake Chatuge has 132 miles of shoreline and is surrounded by mountains. It is pure joy to explore these waters by boat. This can easily be arranged when staying at The Ridges Resort & Marina right on the lake. The ambiance of The Ridges is rustic; food, good and the location, superb. Sunrises over the lake are awesome and on a cool fall evening, roasting marsh mellows over the outside pit as the moon dances in and out of the clouds across the lake is very romantic. Hiking also is big in this area. You can hike or take a shuttle to Brasstown Bald, the highest peak in Georgia, for a panoramic view of four states. From the parking lot, a half mile trail leads to the Bald or for a couple of bucks, catch a shuttle that will transport you round trip. On top of the Bald, there are several hiking trails, as well as spectacular views. Those curious about the Appalachian culture will find a visit to the John C Campbell Folk School fascinating. Created to preserve the arts and crafts of the area, the school offers classes in everything from metalworking to weaving. You can visit some of these classes. The campus is hilly and sprawling. Classrooms are scattered throughout the campus, so you need to be with someone who knows where they are going. If you were here taking classes for a week, you could easily walk off five pounds going from class to class. Another peek at the foods, crafts and music of the Appalachian culture can be found at The Georgia Mountain Fair and Georgia Mountain Fall Festival. During the Georgia Mountain Fair, July 20-30, and Georgia Mountain Fall Festival, October 7-15, activities of mountain life (from blacksmithing to making moon shine) are demonstrated in the pioneer village, along with an authentic one room schoolhouse and old mountain home. Musicians play throughout the fairgrounds and you can learn a lot about this region and its culture by chatting with the friendly locals who man the crafts and food booths. There are several wineries in the area. Crane Creek is one of my favorites. The tasting room overlooks acres of vineyards on rolling hills. The staff is gracious and the wines are outstanding. Crane Creek's 2007 Hellbender Red is highly acclaimed nationally and internationally and has won many awards. For those who enjoy the mountains, the art, music and crafts of Appalachia and tasting good wines, a trip to the mountains of Georgia around Young Harris and Hiawassee will be a wonderful adventure. October 11-13, 2011 is Scottie Davis' next Weekend Get-Away on a Tank of Gas motorcoach trip to the Georgia Mountains. Details: www.scottiedavis.com or call 843-681-1900.

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