A great spot for both novice and experienced hikers alike; the trail is short, but the twin waterfalls at the end provide breathtaking views that anyone will enjoy. It is very family friendly, with lots to do and see on a day trip.
Anna Ruby Falls, located in Chattahoochee-Ocoee National Forest, is a very short in-and-out trail, a mere .04 miles to reach the falls. It is a very unique spot, where two creeks meet, creating twin 150 foot waterfalls. The entire path is paved, with only slight changes in elevation, making it a great destination for novice hikers.
After your hike, Unicoi State Park is a great place to relax (if you plan on doing so, you must pay the $5 fee, so plan accordingly). Here you will find many pavilions with picnic tables. During warmer parts of the year, it is not uncommon to see large gatherings here. At these pavilions you will find grills, power outlets, lights and even running water (although it is not potable). The majority of these include views of the nearby Unicoi Lake, which in most cases, is a very short walk away. You will often see people fishing off the dock here, while children play on the nearby beach. Swimming in the lake is permitted, and you also have the ability to rent canoes here for a small charge.
What Makes It Great
As you prepare to embark on the trail, you will notice a large bear statue; the Rangers will tell you that the falls are "300 bears away." Young children adore this, and you'll often hear them asking their parents on the trail "how many bears left to the waterfalls?"
The Anna Ruby Falls trail is flush with vegetation, and includes a bridge that runs over the creek, providing great photo opportunities. At the end of the trail, you will find a very sizable observation deck that offers beautiful views of the falls from several angles. You must remain on the trail at all times. The creeks are clear and beautiful, inviting you to jump in and play. You cannot do this on the trail itself; however, just south of the parking lot, there is an unpaved trail that brings you to large picnic area, where you are able to have a picnic and enter the water if you so choose. It is very shallow, so it's perfectly safe to enter any time of the year. Just beware, that since this is a mountain steam, the water stays very cool year-round. During warmer months, it provides a great way to cool off after your hike.
Who is Going to Love It
Despite the fact that the trail itself is very short, this is a great destination for families, as there is so much to do here. There are more trails in the area, including one that runs around Unicoi Lake, and one very strenuous one with significant elevation changes that is only recommended for very fit and experienced hikers. All in all, no matter what your experience or mood that day, this place has a lot to offer.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
To enter the Anna Ruby Falls trail, you must drive through Unicoi State Park, and upon entering, you will see signs indicating a $5 parking fee. This confuses many, as the Anna Ruby Falls area is entirely separate from Unicoi itself, so unless you plan on hanging out at Unicoi afterwards, you do not need to pay this fee. There is an attendant at the entrance to the Anna Ruby Falls park who will collect $3 per person for all those above age 16. Children may enter the park free of charge.
The visitor center is complete with well-kept bathrooms, drinking water and a gift shop that closes at 5 p.m. The park itself closes at dusk. Trash receptacles and ashtrays are provided every so often, so there is no need to bring a trash bag of your own.
During warmer parts of the year, this area is highly trafficked on the weekends, largely due the fact that the location is somewhat off the beaten path, but nearby the small Bavarian-style town of Helen, Georgia. It is a short ten minute drive from the downtown area, where you will find old-world German buildings, food and tons of little shops. Because of the vicinity to the town, it's a lovely way to work some nature into your stay there. If you desire to be a little father away from the town itself, there are plenty of cabins and campsites in the nearby Unicoi State Park as well.