1-2 hours of exhilarating drive just north of Atlanta.
If there is a “classic” Atlanta mountain drive it’s the Suches Loop. Comes in two forms and makes nearly a dozen combinations. Many more with off shoots. If you haven’t driven the Suches Loop there is nothing but a tank of gas and half a free day of time stopping you.
Most variations start at the end of GA 400 or Dahlonega. It actually starts and ends at the split of Hwy 19 and Hwy 60 just north of Dahlonega. However there are two standard variation. Short and Long.
The most common variation is “Suches Short”. It starts at the split of 19 & 60, continues on 19 to 180. On 180 it loops back into Suches and Hwy 60 where it eventually meets back up with Hwy 19.
Suches long starts at the same junction of 19 & 60 then takes 75A just north of Helen. There is turns on Hwy 348 before meeting up with Hwy 180/Hwy 19 past Vogel. Finally it continues down 180 to Suches, similar to the short route.
You can’t go wrong with either, but the “money” portion of the drive is on 348 and 180. Don’t miss these portions and try both long and short as time allows. Also, they are enjoyable run in either direction.
Thanks to Georgia’s temperate climate the road is generally driveable for all cars year round, save a few inclement days. Due to the warmer weather the North Georgia mountains are relatively crowded early Fall to early Winter. Best times to do are mid-week or Winter/Early Spring.
Due to the proximity to Atlanta there is not usually a lot of reason to make an overnight trip of it. But if you do there are plenty of options in Helen. Food in the cities of Helen and Dahlonega is plentiful. If you are looking for a combo trip best bet is to hit some of the wineries along the way.
If you are bringing a passenger who isn’t in it for the thrill of the drive they’ll love the numerous stops and activities. They’ll generally dislike the drive as there are a lot of switchbacks.
Take 400 North to the junction of Highway 19. Turn left towards Dahlonega. Following Highway 19 into Dahlonega and make a right in Dahlonega to continue on Highway 19. Follow Highway 19 until it splits with Highway 60 just north of Dahlonega.
Best Time To Go: Winter/Spring
Worst Time To Go: Late Summer Thru Early Winter
Where To Stay: Helen
Where To Eat: Plentiful Choices
How Far Away: 1-1.5 hours to the route start. About 1.5-2 hours to do long loop, 1-1.5 hours for the short loop
Difficulty: Easy with Moderate in Stretches
Passenger Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars