Yes, who knew the little gem in Georgia? I stumbled upon this quite by accident, when I saw something about cabins and hiking at the Unicoi State Park in Northern, Ga. We like to go on weekend hiking trips with our friends Jane and Gary. We try to find places that have great hiking and then fun places to visit in the evenings. Well. We found that Unicoi is located just outside Helen, Ga (and who could resist a town with such a great name?). Jane discovered that Helen is the home of one of the longest Oktoberfests in the Southeast. So off we went and what fun we had. To save money, we take things for breakfast and lunch or buy sandwich makings while there. In Helen we bought some absolutely delicious Westphalian ham from Hofer’s of Helen Bakery & Cafe. We stayed in a lovely home rented through VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner) (http://www.VRBO.com) that was located close to downtown. We could have walked downtown but after all the hiking we took a car and had a designated driver. The town is very quaint- it looks like a Bavarian village and has a Festhalle complete with a German oompah band and beer, of course. We checked out the Troll Tavern (located conveniently under the bridge by the river) and liked it so much we went back the next night. We also went to a couple of restaurants. The restaurants were fine, but the addition of a couple of really outstanding restaurants could be a good thing. There were lots of shops.
The hiking was excellent. Friday afternoon we hiked Dukes Creek Trail which was beautiful. Saturday we did Anna Ruby Falls, doing the short hike up to the falls and then taking half of the longer trail up the mountain. Given the 1000 ft elevation change, you can’t really walk that fast and so we just got to the summit, had a picnic, turned around and returned. Of course, coming down is as difficult as going up. Some of the members of our group are veritable mountain goats, others (ahem) not so much, but it was alot of fun.
After getting back to the house and cleaning up, Jane and I went downtown and checked out a bunch of shops. There are all sorts of places and by no means did we visit as many as we would have wanted. One place we liked quite a bit was the olive oil store…the Alpine Olive Tree (alpineolivetree.com). Dozens of types of olive oils and balsamic vinegars are sold there, along with misters. They pack gift packs and are most helpful.
All in all, this was a great trip.