Greetings from Northern Georgia!
Auz, Adelae, and I have had a wonderful week of hiking up here. We arrived last Saturday afternoon and are staying at my future in-laws cabin near Helen. Below is a brief summary of the trails we hiked while on our trip.
Today we drove over and hiked the Tallulah Gorge Rim Trails (3 mi). The North and South Rim Trails were beautiful and allow visitors to view 4 different falls from 10 scenic overlooks from all around the top of the gorge. We were not able to hike the Hurricane Falls Loop Trail down into the gorge as pets are not allowed. That trail has many warning signs since it is a strenuous climb of 1,100 steps.
We then drove about 10 miles through a beautiful neighborhood of houses on the shores of Lake Rabun to reach the Angel Falls Trailhead. Because Rabun Beach Camp Area was closed this time of year (open April - October), we had to park alongside the road outside the gates. This 1.8 mile trail follows Joe Creek up to Panther and Angel Falls.
Sunday Night - Old Bavaria Lounge
This was such an excellent find for us. After a relatively long day of trails & exploring downtown Helen, Megan & I were wandering down an alleyway and came across a sign for Happy Hour at the local German Lounge. Being 2 girls that love trying new beer, we took up the offer and headed up a flight of stairs in that alley. We found ourselves in a smoky, German themed bar. We were quickly informed by our wonderful bartender that there was a free appetizer in the rear of the bar (shrimp cocktail, which was actually pretty good). Our bartender was dressed in typical German attire and was incredibly friendly and extremely knowledgeable about her imported German beers. There was nothing on tap, but all of the imports cost about $2.50 because of Happy Hour, how can you not love that? She suggested we try King Ludwig Weissbier (Megan’s favorite), Franziskaner Hefe Weisse (Auz’s favorite) and Erdinger, all of which we enjoyed thoroughly
After a couple of beers, we ordered the potato pancakes, which were perfectly cooked and a good compliment to the beer. After talking to our bartender for about an hour, we found out that she has been to the same Oktoberfest in Lantana, FL that I had been to. Small world! The only downside was that people were allowed to smoke in the bar. Everything else was entertaining, filled with tasty beer and good times.
Beer Menu at Old Bavaria Lounge
We started off our morning on the Raven Cliff Falls Trail (5 mi). Dodd Creek follows this gorgeous trail for the majority of the time. Parts of the trail were slightly muddy due to the melting snow. Even in the off season, this trail was fairly busy with other hikers and 2 large groups of campers. We saw quite a few gorgeous camping areas along the trail. When we neared Raven Cliff Falls, the trail turned into loose gravel on a steep incline and finding our footing became difficult.
Auz at Raven Cliff Falls
We then drove down the road to the Dukes Creek Falls Trailhead. This 2 mile trail is very popular and quite easy. It follows fairly flat switchbacks down to Duke's Creek Falls where hikers have an option of viewing the spectacular falls from 3 platforms.
Part of Dukes Creek Falls
Our last stop of the day was at Anna Ruby Falls in Unicoi State Park. This 1/2 mile trail runs parallel to the creek and is paved the entire way up as it is a popular tourist attraction. There are 2 viewing platforms under the falls. This is a pet friendly trail and there is a $2/person fee. This trail also connects to Smith Creek Trail (4.8 mi one-way) which we did not have time to do.
Anna Ruby Falls
We had planned on doing a 5-mile portion of the Appalachian Trail today but were unsuccessful in finding the correct road to reach it. We abandoned this idea and headed back over to Unicoi State Park. We hiked the 2.2 mile Bottoms Loop Trail, which was not the most scenic trail we hiked. There was an extraordinary amount of downed trees and just not much to see in general. This trail connects with Helen Trail (3 mi. one-way) which takes you into the town of Helen.
Auz and Adelae on the Bottoms Loop Trail
We then headed over and hiked the flat 2.5 mile Lake Trail. It winds around the 53-acre Unicoi Lake. This hike would be beautiful in the Fall when the leaves are changing color. Adelae was also able to enjoy a quick swim in the lake at the beach.
Megan and a giant tree on the trail
That evening, Auz, Eric (my fiance), and I ate at the Old Bavaria Inn, an authentic German restaurant, in downtown Helen. Auz decided to purchase a 1-Liter boot filled with Warsteiner Beer! The food was delicious but our server was annoyingly eccentric. We were the first patrons in the restaurant and were ecstatic when other people came in to eat so she could bother them instead.
Auz and her boot
Due to the forecast of rain, Auz and I decided to visit a few wineries. We first stopped at Habersham Winery in Helen. Our uninterested server begrudgingly poured us 4 samples each. The wines were okay but not worth purchasing. Our next stop was at Blackstock Winery in Dahlonega. The knowledgeable sommelier told us about his midlife crisis which included quitting his job, hiking 1/2 of the Appalachian Trail and then accepting a position at Lakeridge Winery in Central Florida, which we were both familiar with. He poured us each 8 samples for $10. The wines were dry, but they offered uncommon varieties. Our favorites included the ACE Family Reserve (a red blend), the Cabernet, and the Viognier Reserve. We purchased a bottle of the latter two.
Thursday & Friday
Rain, rain, go away!!! Thursday morning began with rain, which continued until late afternoon. When it finally let up, we took a quick 1 hour walk around the community. This morning we hiked in a light drizzle up to Grimes Nose, one of the tallest mountains in the community. We walked along the road the majority of the way. The trail was covered with slick leaves which made hiking difficult.
Trail up to Grimes Nose
One our way back to the house, the rain picked up and we got back just in time for the afternoon thunderstorms. We are now lounging in the living room with the heat on, writing our very first blog post. Stay tuned for more adventures...
50 Hikes In the North Georgia Mountains by Johnny Molloy