- By Kelly Sundstrom For the AJC
Congratulations, you happen to live in a place surrounded by some of the most stunning and breathtaking scenery in the country.
One drive around some of Georgia’s scenic byways, and you’ll be reminded of the beauty that lies just a few miles away from Atlanta.
The Cohutta-Chattahoochee Scenic Byway, Dalton
When you travel along the Cohutta-Chattahoochee Scenic Byway, you'll find yourself surrounded by peaceful forests, pastoral landscapes and stunning mountain overlooks. This scenic drive has a little bit of everything. It all starts at the Historic Prater's Mill, which takes you through the rolling hills of Murray County, meanders around the Chattahoochee National Forest and ends with a mountaintop overlook. To experience the Cohutta-Chattahoochee Scenic Byway, take Interstate 575/State Route 515 north to Ellijay then take State Route 52 west towards Chatsworth.
The Russell Brasstown Scenic Byway, Blairsville
If you're drawn to majestic mountain scenery, enjoy a scenic drive through the Russell Brasstown Scenic Byway. This route, which takes you deep within the Chattahoochee National Forest, travels past sections of the Appalachian Trail, through Helen, Georgia’s little slice of Bavaria, up to Brasstown Bald, the highest mountain in Georgia, and past Vogel and Unicoi State Parks. Access the Russell Brasstown Scenic Byway by taking Interstate 985 north to Highway 23. Follow to State Route 384, then take State Route 75 North to the byway.
The Ridge and Valley Scenic Byway, Villanow
Georgia is home to some of the most lush and fertile farmland in the South, and you can experience this for yourself on a journey along the Ridge and Valley Scenic Byway. Along this route, you'll see 19th century farmhouses sprinkled in with breathtaking mountain stop-offs, including the Keown Falls Scenic Area, John's Mountain Overlook and the Pocket. To get on the Ridge and Valley Scenic Byway, take Interstate 75 north to Exit 306, then travel west on State Route 140. Follow to Highway 27 and continue along the highway north until you reach State Route 156.
The Historic Effingham-Ebenezer Scenic Byway (cities of Ebenezer, Guyton, Springfield, and Rincon)
Take a tour through Southern history with a drive along the Historic Effingham-Ebenezer Scenic Byway. You can see the historic churches throughout Effingham County, explore American Revolution-era tavern sites, retrace the steps of George Washington and General Sherman and see the ferries and gorgeous waterways along the Savannah River. To take a scenic drive down the Historic Effingham-Ebenezer Scenic byway, get on Interstate 95 to Exit 109, then follow Highway 21 north to Fourth Street in Rincon where the byway begins. (Note: this is a long way from Atlanta. To get to I-95 from Atlanta take I-75 south to I-16 east to I-95 north. Basically, you drive almost to Savannah then head north.)
The Millen-Jenkins County Scenic Byway, Millen
If you love history, this scenic drive is for you. The Millen-Jenkins County Scenic Byway passes through the Downtown Millen Historic District. On this drive you’ll see turn-of-the-century railroad depots, notable farmhouses and churches and Historic Camp Lawton, the 1864 prisoner-of-war camp. Stop by the Millen-Jenkins County Museum to see Native American artifacts, 19th century tools and vintage cotton mill equipment. From Interstate 20 east, take Interstate 520 to Highway 25. Follow Highway 25 south to access the byway along Big Buckhead Church Road.
The Altamaha Historic Scenic Byway, Darien
Spanish moss and Southern heritage abound along the Altamaha Historic Scenic Byway. This route will take you past Fort King George, the Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation, Butler Island and the marsh ecosystems found throughout the Georgia Coast. Experience the Altamaha Historic Scenic Byway by taking Interstate 95 south to Exit 58, turning east on State Route 57. When State Route 57 becomes State Route 99, the Byway will begin at the Sapelo Island Visitors Center. (Note: again, this is a long way from Atlanta. To get to I-95 from Atlanta take I-75 south to I-16 east to I-95 south.)
The Enduring Farmlands Scenic Byway, Hawkinsville
Whether you love the idea of starting your own hobby farm or just enjoy looking out over a peaceful landscape, the Enduring Farmlands Scenic Byway will give you a glimpse into a truly Southern rural lifestyle. Visit quaint, small towns, shop at local farmer's markets and drive past pecan groves, cotton fields and cattle pastures along this picturesque route. Hit the road along the Enduring Farmlands Scenic Byway by taking Interstate 75 to Exit 135, follow to Highway 41, then continue toward the Perry/Larry Walker Parkway. The Byway begins in Hawkinsville.