During our visit to Helen, GA, we spent part of a day visiting Anna Ruby Falls. It was a short drive to get there from our cabin.
The Anna Ruby Falls Recreation Area is part of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests. The road leading to the falls runs through the adjacent Unicoi State Park. It’s strange driving through a state park and then having to pay to get access to the national forest. The entry fee is $3 per person ages 16 and older.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Anna Ruby Falls has limited hours of operation, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday through Sunday. There is also currently a set capacity for the parking lot of 65 vehicles.
When we arrived, the area was at capacity. There was a police officer stationed on the entrance road and as a car left, another one was allowed to enter. There were about ten cars in front of us and we waited about 15 minutes before we were allowed to drive to the parking lot. Since they were limiting the number of vehicles, there was no problem finding a parking spot.
There is a trail that goes right from the visitor center to the falls.
Anna Ruby Falls Trail: This 0.4-mile paved foot trail takes you along the banks of Smith Creek from the visitor center to the two observation decks near the base of the twin waterfalls. There are a couple of short, steep sections along the trail but benches are available to catch your breath. Most people are able to make the round trip without any problems.
The trail is mostly uphill and there are some steep sections. If you have any mobility or breathing problems, the 1/2 mile hike will feel much longer than it is.
Walking to the trail, you follow Smith Creek. It’s a very relaxing walk with plenty of places to sit, relax and listen to nature.
Once reaching the falls, you have the choice of two viewing platforms. The lower one is off to the right and crossing the river and up a trail on the left is the upper one.
View from the lower platform.
Anna Ruby Falls is a twin waterfall. The taller of the falls, on the left, is from Curtis Creek and drops 153 feet. On the right is York Creek with a drop of 50 feet. They join at the base to form Smith Creek.
Due to the limited number of cars allowed, there were not many people on the trail to the falls or at the viewing platforms. If there were a bunch of people at any spot, you just had to wait a minute or two for it to clear up.
This made for an excellent photo opportunity.
We sat for a while just relaxing before heading back down the trail to the visitors center. The gift shop had all of the usual t-shirts, books and tchotchkes that you’d expect at a natural attraction. It was nice to see mask-wearing was required while inside (and was being enforced), they had hand sanitizer for use at the entrance, and the number of guests is limited to 2-3 parties at a time. Being on federal land lets them make different rules than the rest of the state.
Visiting the falls was a great way to get outside and enjoy nature. There’s something relaxing about watching a waterfall and I think everyone could use something that helps recharge the internal batteries while we’re all feeling a bit overwhelmed.
#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands #wearamask
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary