It’s almost October and that means the small German town of Helen, Georgia is amping up for their annual Oktoberfest.The quaint, alpine village hosts one of the town’s biggest celebrations with German music and dancing, food and excessive amounts of beer. Oktoberfest 2014 runs from Thursday September 18 to Sunday November 2, giving ample opportunity to make the 2-hour drive from Atlanta. Beer isn’t the only reward for making the trip. There are sweet adventure spots to visit nearby.
Trail Run at Anna Ruby Falls
“One of the best parts of the trail is the starting point at Anna Ruby Falls. After about a mile of running on the narrow trail, it opens up to a four mile descent.”
The trail parallels the creek by the falls and follows the ridgeline of Smith Mountain. You’ll encounter uneven terrain and some steep inclines but the trail is well maintained. You’ll traverse over smaller creeks before reaching Smith Creek. Since this is a point-to-point, be sure to arrange a way to get back to your car, either by retracing your steps or having a second car at the end point.
Mountain Bike the National Forest
The Blue Ridge Mountains hosts more than 60 mountain bike trails, so there is no shortage of options. You can rent a bike at the local bike shop, Woody’s Mountain Bikes. Jeff Barber, founder of singletracks.com suggests the 12-mile Jasus Creek trail that begins at Forest Service Road 44.
“The route is entirely forest road and double track, which makes it a great place to get a smooth pace going while enjoying the sights and smells of the mountains,” says Barber.
You’ll see an array of fall leaves as you ride alongside the Upper Chattahoochee River. Be prepared for spend some power -- the route gains vertical 1,500 feet of climbing.
Paddle the Upper Chattahoochee River Water Trail
At the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains is this 36.2-mile waterway. There are six put-in and take-out points for you to choose from. The closest point, Sautee Creek, is five miles from Helen at Lynch Mountain Road. Taking the 5.8-mile route carries you through class I rapids to State Route 255. The most popular route starts at Buck Shoals State Park and leads you through three class II rapids. Wildwood Outfitters is the ending point and they rent out kayaks, canoes and rafts for various prices. They’ll even shuttle you to certain points on the river for a fee.
Beer will be flowing during Oktoberfest. Helen Festhalle houses the event, where admission is $8 Monday through Friday and $10 on Saturday. Cheers to your successful outdoor adventures with a German specialty beer like Erdinger, Paulaner, or Hofbrau and pair it with a salty, Bavarian pretzel. This is the time to sample other German dishes like sauerkraut, bratwurst and German potato salad. While sipping, listen to German bands playing accordions, cowbells and alphorns.
And once you’ve had your fill, don’t stay in town with all the tourists. Make your reservations early because October is prime season. Pitch a tent nearby at one of these campgrounds:
Yonah Mountain Campgrounds has tent sites for $34 per night.
Unicoi Lodge Campgrounds has 33 walk-in tent camping sites.
Andrew’s Cove Campgrounds is 5 miles from Helen, but tent sites are $12 per night.
Jenny’s Creek Campgrounds is on the bubbling Jenny Creek, and sites are $30 per night.