8 outdoor activities the whole family will love at Unicoi State Park & ​​Lodge

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The 1,050-acre Unicoi State Park & ​​Lodge is located in Helen, Georgia, a Bavarian-influenced town best known for the stunning Anna Ruby Falls and celebrations of German culture throughout the year. Unicoi is an adventure lodge, which means it has plenty of outdoor offerings in the Appalachian foothills.

You do not have being an outdoor enthusiast to stay there, and in fact my husband and I had a great time at the lodge itself, dining on the property and taking in the scenery. However, this family-friendly address in Northeast Georgia is one that outdoor enthusiasts won’t want to miss at any time of the year.

Pro tip: October is the busiest month for the park, as that’s when visitors flock to view the leaves.

Note: I was hosted by Unicoi State Park and Lodge. As always, opinions and reviews are 100% mine.

Melody Pittman

1. Hiking

Hiking is a big draw anywhere in the mountains of North Georgia, and Unicoi State Park and Lodge has several designated trails, all in the Chattahoochee National Forest. You will want to follow the signs and be sure to stay on the path.

I found the Frog Pond Nature Trail to be a good, quick hike (only a third of a mile) that had a lot of scenery and a good workout in a short amount of time. Keep your eyes peeled for possums, squirrels and chipmunks. Bottoms Loop Trail was another trail we enjoyed, with some fallen trees that added more beauty to our photos and the scenery on the ground. This trail makes a 2 mile loop and is rated as a moderate hike.

Maybe you would like to take advantage of a guided nature hike. How much fun does that sound? For this activity, a park naturalist will take you on one of the trails and introduce you to the flora and fauna of the Unicoi property. Any age will appreciate and appreciate this one to two hour nature excursion. Tours start around $ 10.

Pro tip: This is quintessential bear country, so keep an eye out and don’t wander or travel alone. That being said, the scenery is fantastic and the terrain exhilarating, so don’t let me scare you with the bear information.

Anna Ruby Falls at Unicoi State Park
Anna Ruby Falls (Photo credit: Melody Pittman)

2. See the waterfall

The mother of all waterfalls in the Helen area can be found here at Unicoi State Park & ​​Lodge: Anna Ruby Falls. The falls (named after the daughter of a Civil War general) are operated by the US Forest Service. Therefore, a separate entry fee of $ 5 per person (aged 16 and over) is required at the door.

After parking your car, you will follow a well marked path for 0.4 mile to reach the top of the waterfall. Although the hike is short, it is quite strenuous in places with steep inclines. People of all ages and what seemed to be all skill levels were walking it, but everyone kept an eye on the prize and went at their own pace to reach the waterfall platform. There were a few benches along the way to rest, which I must have used at some point.

Once you get to Anna Ruby Falls, there are two viewing platforms for the best views and photo ops. The lower one is great for groups and selfies, and the upper one lets you feel the haze of choppy water. You are so close to this magnificent display of cascading Twin Falls.

Pro tip: Don’t miss the gift shop, which has an excellent selection of t-shirts, postcards, stickers and souvenirs.

Author practicing archery at Unicoi State Park
The archery author (Photo credit: Melody Pittman)

3. Archery

I did something brand new at Unicoi State Park & ​​Lodge. My husband and I had a archery lessons, with two other couples. Wasn’t sure what to expect, but our guide was informative, easy to understand, and got us all shooting at targets in just a few minutes. Safety is vital in this sport, so be sure to listen to the instructor on loading your arrows and archery.

We all fired three rounds of arrows. When she called out “cold range” we all knew it was safe to collect the arrows we had fired. We started shooting at fairly close targets, but they still weren’t easy for us newbies to hit. After about 45 minutes of that, we headed to the 3-D lineup, which replaces targets with fake animals. The bear, armadillo, coyote and a few others provided a place for us to attempt to shoot our arrows. There is also a tower from which you can shoot. I didn’t touch any of the animals (my husband did), but we had fun. The lesson and activity lasted approximately 90 minutes.

Target shooting at the air firing range is another fun offering in this part of the park. A covered booth is where you will try your luck on paper targets. All three areas of the Air Shooting Range and Archery Range are considered ADA accessible.

Zipline platform at Unicoi State Park
Zipline platform (Photo credit: Melody Pittman)

4. The zip line

As with most state parks in Georgia, the zipline lessons is popular and enjoyable. In the company of a game warden, guests have the chance to participate in 19 aerial ziplines ranging from 75 to 2,000 feet in length. You’ll hover 100 feet above the ground and get epic views of Lake Unicoi and the area’s wildlife.

You can choose two levels for your zipline adventure. Level 1 has a series of 11 zip lines and seven suspension bridges, while level 2 has 19 zip lines and 12 bridges. One of the ziplines is 800 meters across Lake Unicoi. It looks awesome! Heard from Unicoi Lodge guests who have done level 2 and loved every minute of it. As for me, I kept my feet firmly on the ground, even though I have already ziplined.

Smith Creek at Unicoi State Park
Smith Creek (Photo credit: Melody Pittman)

5. Kayaking and boating

Unicoi Lake on Smith Creek (a tributary of the Chattahoochee River) is a 53-acre attraction that’s one of the most beautiful sights you’ll ever see, especially in the fall when the colorful leaves are reflected on the water. So breathtaking that almost anyone who passes by stops for a photo or just to admire the sheer beauty. Smith Creek is a great place to get out by canoe, paddleboard, or kayak, all of which can be rented at the reception center.

There is a charge for renting a canoe or a kayak. Dogs are welcome but must have a life jacket, which Unicoi does not provide.

Boating is also a popular activity on Unicoi Lake. During the warmer months, you can hire boats on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Another desired outdoor offer is trout fishing.

If you have the time and the inclination, schedule a mountain fly fishing class to learn the parts of the fly fishing rod, how to cast your line, and tips for catching the big one (like reading the water). , for example). Remember to schedule your lessons 24 hours in advance.

6. Relax on the beach

Yes, Unicoi State Park & ​​Lodge has a Beach. You are probably as surprised as we are. There is a demarcated area for swimming (although the water is no deeper than 4 feet) and a sandy beach for building sandcastles or just relaxing and enjoying the view. Paddle surfers and kayakers also use this part of the lake. You can rent your outdoor gear at the boathouse during the season.

Path to Anna Ruby Falls at Unicoi State Park
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

7. MTB

Unicoi State Park & ​​Lodge has a 7.5 miles mountain bike loop it’s perfect for experienced riders. The mountainous terrain has specially designed trails through forests, fields, woods and many scenic viewpoints. The trail is 8-shaped so you can walk it all or only halfway. You will need your own equipment for this activity. Watch for the white flame marks that mark the trail.

8. Tomahawk throw

Join one of the activity attendants in this trendy and fun deal to improve your tomahawk throwing skills. You will spend an hour on the outdoor shooting range and learn the correct technique for throwing the tomahawk at wooden targets. Equipment is provided and closed shoes are required for this activity.

Pro tip: If you want to capture some of your outdoor adventures with a GoPro, you can rent one from Unicoi Adventures on the third floor of the Unicoi Lodge. GoPro cameras are easy to use and you can capture your unique experiences in stunning 1080P high definition. Memory cards are sold separately.

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