What's more beautiful than the changing of the leaves in the northern Georgia mountains?
Although Helen is known for its beautiful scenery throughout the entire year, autumn is a particularly special time. As the familiar greens of the trees begin to transform into brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow, tourists flock to the area for the chance to take in the fabulous views. Of course, during your visit, you'll have the luxury of enjoying the leaves from the porch or expansive windows of your vacation cabin, but there are also plenty of hot spots in and around Helen where you can take in the sights and capture some truly incredible pictures. To help you plan your trip, we've complied this list of 4 of the best places do go to see the fall foliage during your trip to Helen this fall.
1. Unicoi State Park
Located just a stone's throw from our luxury cabin rentals and the heart of downtown Helen, Unicoi State Park is famed for it's beautiful lake and, of course, Anna Ruby Falls. These sights are worth seeing no matter when you choose to visit the area, but they take on a whole new appearance during the fall season. One of the most popular hikes during the end of September and through October is the 2.5 mile Lake Trail. This path offers a relatively easy hike and affords magnificent views of Unicoi Lake, the mountains, and the trees. You'll notice the breathtaking reflection of the colorful leaves across the waters, and will be able to see an array of red and orange trees for miles. You may also enjoy hiking to the park from Helen and back on the Unicoi/Helen trail. And you won't want to leave the park without making the easy trek to view the double falls. From the viewing platform, you'll be able to capture some wonderful pictures of the cascades as they are framed by northern Georgia's fall foliage.
2. Smithgall Woods State Park
Enjoy hiking, fishing, and hunting amongst the colorful leaves at Helen's own Smithgall Woods State Park. This park protects more than 6,000 acres of land surrounding Duke's creek with plenty of spots for observing nature, getting some exercise, and even picnicking along the creek. Ash Creek Trail is a great pick for viewing the fall foliage. The 1.5 mile, 1-way trail exposes hikers to a very large expanse of the Georgia woodlands, and takes visitors across the creek in which the colors are reflected. Martin's Mine Trail is also very popular, as it features a picturesque wooden bridge, and a vertical shaft that is a remnant of the gold mining era. This makes for a unique habitat for bats, and as the sun begins to go down, you can spot the critters in flight through the changing trees.
3. Brasstown Bald
Want to experience autumn from on top of the world? You'll definitely want to plan a journey to the peak of Brasstown Bald - the highest point in the entire state. Even the trip to the summit is worth the effort. As you approach Brasstown Bald, you'll drive along the Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway which is lined with beautiful trees. When you reach the parking lot, you'll find picnic facilities that will allow you to take in the sights and the crisp fall air as you fuel up for a hike to the top (trams are also available for a fee). At the peak, you'll be standing half a mile above the valley's below, as a sea of red, orange, and yellow leaves spreads out to the edges of the horizon. During particularly clear autumn days, you may even be able to spot the skyline of Atlanta.
4. Tallulah Gorge State Park
Located just 29 miles northeast of Helen, Tallulah Gorge State Park houses one of the largest and most impressive canyons in all of the southeast. The North and South Rim Trails will afford visitors some of the most incredible views of the changing leaves. Both of these trails are easy to moderate in difficulty and take hikers along the rim of the gorge with several different scenic overlooks. From here, you'll be able to observe some of the parks gorgeous waterfalls, the damn, and peaceful pools - all highlighted by the colors of autumn. Keep in mind that autumn is a peak visitor's season, so if you wish to hike at the bottom of the gorge, you'll need to arrive early as only 100 permits are distributed each day. To ensure that you are issued a permit, be sure to wear proper footwear.
Have you ever visited Helen in the fall? Where did you go to watch the leaves change colors? Share your tips and suggestions with future users in the comments section of our blog.