You shouldn’t visit Helen, Georgia without carving out some time to visit its spectacular neighbor. Located just north of town, Anna Ruby Falls requires a short hike, which is rewarded with a view of this giant waterfall. It’s actually two creeks, coming together as they plunge over the cliffs into the Smith Creek valley.
While the falls are the main attraction, the entire journey is filled with enjoyable moments, starting with the drive in from Helen.
You couldn’t ask for a more beautiful road in Autumn. Take GA 75 north from Helen, then turn on GA 356. This road will take you into Unicoi State Park, but if you tell them at the guard station that you’re headed to Anna Ruby Falls, and not stopping in Unicoi, you shouldn’t have to pay the entrance fee to the state park. A side road off 356 leads you out of the state park and into the Anna Ruby Falls Scenic Area, part of the Chattahoochee National Forest.
Shortly before you reach the end of the road, you’ll need to pay admission to the Anna Ruby Falls Scenic Area. It’s a reasonable $3 per person, and National Parks passes are accepted.
From the parking area, it’s .4 miles to Anna Ruby Falls. The path is paved, and shouldn’t be very challenging.
The trail to the falls is just as nice as the falls themselves. You’ll find dozens of other mini-waterfalls along the way, as the trail follows Smith Creek.
It’s great to walk up this trail during autumn, when a slight breeze can create a blizzard of leaves, pouring down on top of you.
Take your time on the way up the trail, enjoying the rushing sound of the creek.
The trail ends at Anna Ruby Falls. On the left is Curtis Creek, which drops 153 feet. York Creek, on the right, plunges 50 feet. The two mingle at the base of the falls, forming Smith Creek, which flows into Unicoi Lake.
I thought the entire waterfall was too big to photograph with good results, so I focused in on some smaller parts of the cascade.
On the trip back to the parking area, you’ll be joined by dozens of other people. This is a popular trail, so don’t expect solitude.
At least it offers a (comfortable?) stone couch.
[tmt_info =””]For another hiking option, consider the Smith Creek Trail. It’s 4.6 miles, one way, and leads into Unicoi State Park. Keep in mind, it’s not a loop, so you’ll either need to make a nearly 10-mile round-trip, or hitch a ride back to your car.[/tmt_info]