Our Vacation in North Georgia: Day One

On a recent vacation, Josh, Karen, and I, were able to spend a few days in the North Georgia Mountains (Jacob was unable to go due to his school's summer baseball league).  We specifically planned this vacation around geocaching and hiking in our Georgia State Parks located throughout the Northeast corner of our state.  Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, North Georgia offers sites that are unlike any others here in the southern most part of our state and we did our best to take them in.  Much of what we experienced will not be soon forgotten.

Our first stop was the Unicoi State Park Lodge in Helen, Georgia.  We arrived at about 10:00 pm Friday night after about a six and half hour trip and it didn't take us long to get checked in and fall fast asleep. Bright and early Saturday morning, after a great breakfast at the Unicoi Lodge, we proceeded to find our way to the first state park on our agenda, Smithgall Woods.  It is located just three miles outside of Helen.  The Laurel Ridge Trail is a 1.6 mile loop that not only provided us with spectacular scenery, but the first cache of our vacation.

Having spent most of our time trekking along the relatively flat surfaces of the trails throughout South Georgia, we found the Laurel Ridge Trail to be moderately difficult.  From it's start, the trail ascended, at times quite steeply, through a variety of different communities.  There were also moments when the trail narrowed considerably along a ridge, but not enough to cause too much concern.  There were ample amounts of magnolias throughout the trail, and the flower garden at the Visitor's Center was nearly worth a trip for itself.  Duke's Creek also provides anglers the opportunity to hone their skills and catch some trout.  Inside the Visitors Center we spent a bit of time looking through the gift shop and we were assisted by a very helpful Ranger named Patty Parker.  She was very knowledgeable, friendly, and courteous.  A Discovery Room is also located within the Center highlighting some of the area's wildlife.

After leaving Smithgall Woods, we made our way over to Vogel State Park.  Vogel was teaming with people on this Memorial Day weekend.  It is obviously a popular destination.  Once acquiring a trail map from the visitors center, we quickly traversed the Byron Herbert Reece Nature Trail for the State Park sponsored Geocache.  After a bit of difficulty with our GPS, we did make the find and retrieved our stamp.  From there, we made our way back out into the park for a few pictures before departing.

The park itself offers a whole host of amenities including:  boating, fishing, camping, hiking, geochaching, and picnicking.  There is also a miniature golf course and a playground or two throughout.

Having visited two state parks already, we left Vogel and headed over to the nearby town of Blairsville for a community wide arts and crafts festival located in the town square.  It was here that I tasted (and purchased) the finest bottle of Peach Cider that I've ever had.  Mmmm good!!  I can't wait to get back to Blairsville so that I can visit Sunrise Grocery and get some more!

After a stroll through town, and a quick bite to eat, we started making our way back to Unicoi.  We did stop a few times along the way, however, to take a few pictures.

To say that we were a bit exhausted when we arrived back at Unicoi would be a bit of an understatement!  Yet we still had one more trail to go in order to find our third state sponsored cache of the day.  So with that in mind, we set out on the Helen Trail to claim our prize.  The Helen Trail actually traverses 3 miles throughout the surrounding area into the nearby town of Helen.  It takes about 2 hours one way and about 4 hours round trip and is rated at moderate to strenuous.  We didn't have near the stamina to follow the entire length, so we merely focused on retrieving the geocache and also enjoyed the Frog Pond Nature Trail (1/3 mile loop).  Throughout both trails, we found the winding, ascending, and descending paths to be quite demanding at times (perhaps because it was our third state park of the day).

Day one of our vacation was definitely a long one and after we had our fill out on the trail, we retired back to the lodge for a shower, a wonderful dinner, and a great night of rest.  The next morning we were actually a bit sad as we packed up and had to say goodbye to Unicoi State Park, but it was on to our next destination.  If you ever find yourself in or around Helen, Georgia, and are looking for a great place to stay and eat, we highly recommend the Unicoi State Park Lodge.


  1. I love posts like this - great photos, geocaching and hiking. A winning combination!

  2. Love your blog. I am a recent resident of Gainesville Ga just a few miles south of the area and an avid geocacher as well. I haven't had much of a chance to do any caching but am really anxious to get started and see the parks within this beautiful state. Thanks for the post and the photos.

  3. Thanks for the comments...Kim, I agree with you about geocaching and hiking being a winning combination. Haffy, our state parks are definitely beautiful and I'm sure you'll find much enjoyment in them. My son and I are headed back up to the Northwest corner of the state in a week to do some more hiking and geocaching. We plan to visit 8-10 more withing a 4 day span.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts