Connect with Mother Nature in the ultimate North Georgia destination near the flowing waters of the Cartecay, Ellijay and Coosawattee Rivers. Here, the mountains and rivers beckon explorers while unique, locally-owned boutiques, antiques shops, outdoor outfitters, lodging options and a revitalized downtown create a one-of-a-kind experience in “Georgia’s Apple Capital,” 80 miles north of Atlanta and 65 miles from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Embrace a healthier lifestyle in this destination that showcases hiking and biking trails alongside local farms. Find healthy olive oils, handmade soaps and Himalayan salt crystals at specialty shops. Tube and fish the area’s three main rivers or spend the day kayaking, canoeing or boating Carter’s Lake. Rejuvenate with a cup of java in a cozy coffee house or raise a glass at any of five nearby wineries. Take a bite out of apple country at a u-pick farm and make plans to attend annual events like the Georgia Apple Blossom Festival each May and the Georgia Apple Festival held each October.
Embark on a treasure hunt through Ellijay’s myriad antiques shops and come away with the perfect souvenir. Catch a play at the new George Link, Jr. Gilmer Arts Playhouse. Satisfy hunger pangs with fried green tomatoes and a perfectly cooked filet at a fine restaurant; then, top off the culinary experience with sweet treats at everybody’s favorite ice cream and hot dog shop. Between trail explorations in the “Georgia’s Mountain Biking Capital,” rejuvenate at Mulberry Gap, a second-generation family-owned mountain biking retreat. Make memories beneath the stars with a celebratory stay at Elatse’yi, a mountain retreat and alpaca farm with unique accommodations including vintage Airstreams and a geodesic dome; or choose from a variety of other equally welcoming options for R&R like riverfront cabins, including many that are pet-friendly. Wherever you go in Ellijay, adventure awaits. www.ExploreTheEllijays.com
Fast Facts and Trivia
- Gilmer County and its surroundings are home to 11 mountain hiking trails, 59 mountain bike trails, several impressive waterfalls and some of the best trout waters in the Southeast.
- The area’s Engelheim Vineyards offers four varieties of wine.
- More than 100 miles of single-track mountain biking trails have earned Gilmer County the official designation as “Georgia’s Mountain Biking Capital” and there is no off season for mountain biking here.
- Gilmer County offers the opportunity to fish for fresh large trout in cool mountain rivers, or large Bass in challenging Carter’s Lake.
- Cartecay Vineyards has over 13 acres of vines and 6 different varieties.
- August through November is apple season in Gilmer County.
- Dig home grown taters and learn about the process of growing, sorting and weighing taters at The Tater Patch Farm, a local potato farm.
- John W. Clayton is credited with introducing the first apples to Gilmer County in 1903. Over 100 years later, “Georgia’s Apple Capital” produces over 250,000 bushels of apples annually in over 30 varieties.
- Chateau Meichtry Vineyard and Winery is family-owned and operated.
- Trip Advisor named Mountain Valley Farm the #1 attraction in Ellijay.
- The long history of the Muscogee Creek and Cherokee Indians all but ended with the removal of all Native Americans west of the Mississippi River in 1838. Migratory trails passed through Gilmer during the colonization of the territories and by the 1840s a solid base of pioneering farmers set up home in these rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
- The mountainous terrain of the Ellijay area’s frontiers made it ideal for crops of sorghum, cotton, corn and wheat.
- Gilmer enjoys a rich history with colorful characters, bearing the bloodlines of the Scotch Irish.
- Cooler temps and rain in the higher elevations of Gilmer were a draw during the hot months of summer. During the 19th century it was thought that mountain air was healthier. Many hotels lined the downtown streets amid the numerous shops. After the wars and the great depression they fell into disrepair.
- Called a modern day “Mayberry” by travel writer William Schemmel in the 1990s, the city of Ellijay is a very neighborly community. Drive along the many backroads and travel back to a time of small town atmosphere and nostalgia.
- Georgia Apple Blossom Festival, May, www.GeorgiaAppleBlossomFestival.com
- Taste of Ellijay, May, www.GilmerChamber.com
- Apple Arts, October, www.GilmerChamber.com
- Georgia Apple Festival, October, www.GeorgiaAppleFestival.org