Bite into a fall apple in Georgia and chances are it was grown in the hills and valleys surrounding Ellijay.
Known as the "Apple Capital of Georgia," the area produces more than 600,000 bushels of apples in 25 varieties.
The town also serves as the jumping-off place for hundreds of outdoor adventurers who come to experience the mountains and rivers of northern Georgia. Its second moniker is the "Mountain Biking Capital of Georgia," with more than 100 miles of single-track mountain biking trails.
- Compiled by staff writer Mariann Martin, firstname.lastname@example.org, 423-757-6324
Pick a peck of apples
• Head to "Apple Alley" (Georgia Highway 52 East) to find rolling hills of orchards where you can pick your own crisp fruit or buy them already picked.
• In addition to apples, many orchards sell apple pies, breads and cider.
• Visitors can also pick out a pumpkin or milk a cow as part of Ellijay's growing agri-tourism industry.
• The Martyn House (912 Flat Branch Road) also hosts several Farm to Table dinners every year, featuring food from local farmers.
Source: Gilmer County Chamber of Commerce, Mona Lowe, director of Better Hometown
From wild to mild
• Ellijay and Gilmer County's wilderness provides every type of adventure, from the Martyn House's posh tents, known as "glamping," to the roughness of the Appalachian Trail.
• More than 100 miles of biking trails give you roller coaster rides and longer, more gentle terrain.
• Nicknamed "the land of many waters," by the Cherokee, various rivers and creeks provide the wet stuff needed for canoeing, kayaking and tubing.
Source: Gilmer County Chamber of Commerce
Antiques, window shopping and crafts
• Wile away a pleasant afternoon in more than a dozen antique shops, many located in within walking distance of each other in downtown Ellijay.
• Visit the 1870 Tabor House & Civil War Museum (138 Spring St.), the oldest home in the county. The museum has more than 200 books and two rooms have been transformed into a bedroom and kitchen from the late 1800s.
• Get creative by making your own pottery, painting or other crafts in classes and event hosted in the downtown square.
Source: Mona Lowe, director of Better Hometown
Put on your best scarecrow
• Georgia Apple Festival - Immerse yourself into all things apple - fresh fruit, cider, butter pies, baking contests and crafts (second and third weekend in October).
• Light Up Ellijay - Lighted floats and synchronized lighting of a Christmas tree and downtown stores kick off the Christmas season (November).
• Scarecrow Celebration - Ellijay has long hosted the scarecrow invasion in September and October, featuring frightening stuffed men and women. This year, they will hold the first ever scarecrow celebration (Oct. 6) to honor their scarecrows.
Source: Gilmer County Chamber of Commerce; Mona Lowe, director of Better Hometown; Explore Georgia
A home kind of feel
• If soups are your thing, the Cantaberry Restaurant (51 River St.) is happy to oblige. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. seven days a week.
• The tomato basil soup gets rave reviews from customers.
• Other favorites are its chicken salad sandwich, coconut cream cake and brown sugar pound cake.
Source: Mona Lowe, director of Better Hometown; April Sheffield, Cantaberry Restaurant employee
Where the rivers meet
• Population: 1,619
• Biggest employer: Hospitality industry
• Number of miles from downtown Chattanooga: 70
• Landmarks or geographic features: Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the 2,175-mile-long Appalachian Trail, is at the edge of Gilmer County. Ellijay lies where two rivers, the Ellijay and the Cartecay, come together to form the Coosawattee River.
• Date founded: 1834
• Historic Info: In 1540, Hernando de Soto and his conquistadors were the first Europeans to enter the area.
• Most famous resident: Oscar Poole owns Col. Poole's Bar-B-Q in East Ellijay, a restaurant that boasts Oscar Poole's Pig Hill of Fame, where more than 3,000 red, yellow, white and blue plywood pigs graze on the hillside.
• Unique characteristic: Ellijay is the oldest continually inhabited town in what is now the state of Georgia, mentioned in writing as early as 1731.
• Fun fact: Ellijay was the site of an Indian village and bears an Indian name meaning "earth green there."
Source: Source: Gilmer County Chamber of Commerce, Mona Lowe, director of Better Hometown