Between Helen and, well, the middle of nowhere (slightly south of Blairsville), the Richard B. Russell Scenic Byway provides a great mountain drive. There aren’t many reasons to stop, so just enjoy the winding ride through the trees. It’s especially nice during Autumn in late October, when the leaves are falling.
After leaving Raven Cliffs Trail, the road climbs, crosses the Appalachian Trail, then drops down to the Nottely River valley. Along the way…
… you’ll find a few turnouts with limited views of the surrounding mountains…
… and of course, plenty of good views of big trees.
At one particular turnout, you get a great view to the south.
At other spots, there are some trees in the way, but you still get to feel like you’re traveling on top of the world.
State Road 348 ends rather unceremoniously at State Road 180, less than a mile from US 19/129, the major road between Blairsville to the north, and Dahlonega and Cleveland, to the south.
Since it was getting late in the day, I really should have made a direct journey to my overnight stop in Norcross, about 80 miles away. On these mountain roads, 80 miles is a much bigger deal than on an interstate. But I wasn’t content to call it a day, so I took one more detour.
Here’s the time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive from Anna Ruby Falls, out the Richard Russell Byway, to Raven Cliffs, then on to Highway 180 and the end of the byway: