Anna Ruby Falls is one of the most easily-accessible and family friendly waterfall hikes out there…and it’s just up the road in Helen, Georgia.
It’s actually two waterfalls, flowing into one and creating Smith Creek – the creek that fills the lake at Unicoi State Park. The falls are majestic, and the walk is short and easy. You simply cannot visit Helen without taking in this natural beauty. In fact, I think it’s reason enough, alone, to make the journey from Atlanta.
Don’t miss a stop at the Visitor Center, which butts against Smith Creek. Kids will love feeding the fish (bring a few quarters!) The trout literally jump out of the water for food if you are visiting early in the day. By evening, though, their bellies are full.
It is less than a ½ mile to the top, The slope is not too steep, and the trail is paved the entire way. My almost-two-year old walked about half of the way to the top and almost the entire way down. I use a sling, but a stroller would work well here. There are stairs at the very top, but you could easily leave your stroller here for the final climb.
We crossed the creek twice during the climb, and appreciated the view of the water from the bridge. With boulders, lizards, wildflowers and other “distractions” the kids will enjoy the journey just as much as the waterfall at the end. Just a note about the water…if you follow us, you know that we LOVE to play in the water, but visitors here cannot enter the river at this location. I’m not sure if it is even permitted, but there simply are no safe entry points along the way. Plan to stay dry, but take in a spectacular view with a short and fun journey along the way.
Anna Ruby is not part of Unicoi State Park, though you drive into Unicoi to get here. It’s important to note this because your Ga State Park Pass will not work. It’s $3 per person, and kids under 16 are free. It’s open year-round, but closes early during the cooler months. There are also special hours on Thanksgiving Day, and it’s closed on Christmas.
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After 18 years in software development, Lesli bailed on the corporate scene. When she’s not traveling, she’s hiking in the mountains or checking out Atlanta’s culinary scene, whiskey in hand.
Lesli has two kiddos -Cooper and Elliot- plus two bonus kids currently at UGA, and she’s happily married to her soul mate.