Into the Blue Ridge

East of Chattanooga, Tennessee, US 64 leaves the Ridge and Valley Province and knifes into the Blue Ridge Mountains (the easternmost province of the Southern Appalachians).  After snaking past Lake Ocoee, the highway climbs along the Ocoee River where whitewater events took place during the 1996 Olympic Games.  Beyond the river, we turned south to intersect US 76 and drove eastward on that highway, traversing the scenic Blue Ridge landscape of northern Georgia; en route, we passed Brasstown Bald (4784 feet) to our south, the highest summit in the State.

North of Clayton, Georgia, we entered Black Rock Mountain State Park; winding up to the Visitor Center, which sits on the south side of the mountain at an elevation of 3446 feet, we enjoyed a spectacular view of the Georgia Blue Ridge Mountains, backed (to the south) by the rolling Piedmont.  Hiking a portion of the Tennessee Rock Trail, we then enjoyed equally impressive views of the North Carolina Blue Ridge to the north and reached the summit of Black Rock Mountain (3640 feet).  Of special interest, the Eastern Continental Divide crosses this State Park, the highest in Georgia.

Further south, at Tallulah Falls, Georgia, we visited Tallulah Gorge State Park, where the river has carved a spectacular chasm through the ancient granite.  A fine network of trails, stairways and a suspension bridge, provide access to the beautiful gorge, which harbors five waterfalls; unfortunately, the serenity of the gorge is diminished by traffic on US 441 that curves past its south rim.