After a long day of walking around the beautiful German like town of Helen, Georgia my husband and I decided to head out to the mountains. Before our family vacation I had made a list of several places I would like to visit including Anna Ruby Falls. The scattered thunderstorms put a hold on many of our plans but I made sure to not put a hold on seeing this magical place.
As we drove out of Helen to head back to camp I immediately saw the sign for Unicoi State Park. It was still daylight and the dark clouds were still far away. We decided to go for it and check out Unicoi State Park and head to Anna Ruby Falls.
As we arrived there we followed all the signs that led to Anna Ruby Falls. We paid the entrance fee and headed up the mountain towards the parking lot. We parked by the gift shop and visitor center. As I got out of the car I can already hear the water flowing through the creek nearby. With all the rain that had been falling, I knew this waterfall was going to be flowing beautifully.
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HEADING TO ANNA RUBY FALLS
We made our way past “Smokey The Bear” and over to the trail-head where I saw this beautiful Leather-leaf mahonia with gorgeous berries on it (I will talk more about it later). We continued our way up the paved path by the water, up the hill, and all the way to the falls. It was short hike of about 0.4 miles to the falls. Fairly easy as well. My 6 year old daughter Bella was hiking it like a little pro.
We arrived and just stood there for a minute in awe. I knew the pictures were beautiful but I had no idea how truly huge and gorgeous Anna Ruby Falls really was till I saw it for my own self. The waterfall flowed so freely. There were two waterfalls to view and one of them was like two waterfalls in one. I felt like there was water flowing all around me.
After taking a few family photos we decided to head back before it started raining. The clouds were quickly approaching and almost right over our heads. Not that I am scared of water but more scared of thunder and lightning and being with the kiddos. No need to have that mix.
WHAT TO KNOW
First thing first. You must know a few things before heading off to this paved hike.
- The entrance fee is $3 per adult over the age of 16 years. 16 years and under are free.
- Please obey all of the signs posted on the trails. They are there for a reason, such as keeping you safe from our friends like the one I found pictured below.
- Stay on the path. The ecosystem here is delicate in some areas. There are signs posted further explaining this.
- Leave No Trace. Pack out what you pack in. Don’t leave writings, graffiti, or damages to the nature around you. I found this on the trail and was very sadden by it.
Related Article: Leave No Trace Principles
WHAT TO BRING & WEAR
- Hydration. I used my hydroflask during my trip. Best way to keep your water cold during the warm summer months.
- Comfortable shoes. It may be paved but there is a hill that can be a little tough to some. Wearing comfortable shoes in this humid environment can prevent slips and falls or even injuries.
- Mosquito repellent. You will be hiking alongside the creek and mosquitoes are suckers for this type of environment. I will highly recommend wearing an organic and eco-friendly mosquito repellent.
- Camera. I highly recommend bringing your camera. You would definitely want to add this to your Facebook or your photo albums.
- Money. Like previously state, there is an entrance fee to get in of $3 per person over the age of 16. There is also a gift shop by the trail-head where you can buy drinks, snacks, souvenirs, or even a patch or pin for those of you that collect them. My daughters started this year collecting patches for every state park or hike we go to.
2326 1788, GA-356, Helen, GA 30545
You can also put Unicoi State Park on your GPS and it will take you straight to the park. Once you enter the state park you will see signs for Anna Ruby Falls. Just follow them up the mountain till you get to the entrance gate where they will collect the fees.
About that Leatherleaf mahonia that I found at the beginning of the trail. After doing the hike I decided to research it. I came to find a few cool facts about it.
- An evergreen shrub that has fragrant yellow flowers.
- Fruit bearing berries after the flowers have blossomed.
- The berries can be eaten in small amounts.
- Berries have a tangy tart-ish taste to them. I personally haven’t tried it though.
- The berries are eaten by bears, wild birds, squirrels, and other wild animals attracting wildlife in abundance.
- Originally from China.
- There are about 70 species of Mahonias.
- Berries have an antibacterial effect and provides Vitamin C.
- Roots and stems has been used to treat pulmonary tuberculosis, recurring fever, and cough in rundown body systems, rheumatoid arthritis, backache, weak knees, dysentery, and enteritis.
Well I hope you enjoyed this hiking guide. Have you been to Anna Ruby Falls before? Or do you plan on adding this beautiful gem to your Georgia bucket list now? Let me know in the comments. I love to talk with my readers.
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RESOURCES FOR LEATHER LEAF MAHONIA