This summer the family and I went on a last minute summer fling to get in a little adventure before the new school year began. This wasn’t my usual months of planning and Pinterest haunting. My tools for this trip were Google and Trip Advisor and that’s it.I Googled “cabins in Smoky Mountains”, and I came across a lodge in Unicoi State Park just outside of Helen, GA. Georgia has the baby mountains, foothills really, but I figured it would feel like enough adventure for a 13 year old and a 4 year old and my outdoor loving boyfriend. And so we packed up the SUV and headed up to the mountains of Georgia to begin yet another adventure. We did so much on this trip that I’ll have to split this post into two parts.
Underestimated is not even the word. We were in awe as we drove through the quaint Bavarian-looking town of Helen, GA with the Smoky Mountains as the back drop and the babbling rapids of the Chattahoochee River running right through the heart of it. Think Oktoberfest on steroids. It was hard to believe we were just an hour or so north of the busy metropolitan traffic hell of Atlanta.
It really is a sight to see and made for some really cool photo ops. There’s shops and a variety of European themed restaurants and pubs and even miniature golf. It definitely made for some family friendly fun. We also had the best garlic knots and pizza we had ever eaten in our lives at a pizza & burger joint called The Hooch. Yummy! But I digress…onto the adventure!
Smith Lake really is the jewel of the park. It’s just across the way from the main lodge and there are also cabins in the woods surrounding it. If we take this trip again we would definitely like to stay in one of the treehouse cabins. There are many trails to hike and streams and brooks that just make you want to take your socks off and hop in. There’s a man made beach, kayaks, canoes, and fishing poles , all for cheap rental from the General Store. Everything you need for outdoorsy fun right there at your finger tips.
Despite my best efforts I didn’t catch anything. *insert super sad face here* I think we would have had better luck fishing from a boat than from the dock. Those fish weren’t easily fooled. I was a little disappointed. I mean afterall, I handled worms and baited my own hook and everything! (my least favorite part of fishing)
We couldn’t let the opportunity pass us by to go tubing in the rapids of the Chattahoochee River! Florida has lots of places for tubing but we don’t have rapids! It seems to be the summer past time of everyone in Helen, GA. It’s refreshing and pretty cheap at only $5 per person! The water was icy but clear in most parts but after getting into our tubes it was clear that this would be an adventure we wouldn’t soon forget.
The water was moving much faster than it looked. We got all of the tubes connected together and we were off! The river is full of rocks and small drop offs and it was extremely hard to maneuver four inner tubes all tied together. We quickly realized that in order to navigate the rocks and rapids we would have to separate.
One drop off nearly tipped me over and we took out a poor older lady who thought it was a good idea to wade out into the rapids with no tube from the shoreline! We just managed to yell, “Look Out!” And down she went.
At some point you will catch a rock in a less than desirable place, you will get stuck and have to get out of your tube and unstick yourself and you just might sink your tube! (the boyfriend managed to get a hole in his along the way)
All in all we had a great time and we would definitely do it again but it’s worth it to buy the walking stick so that you can steer yourself and stay out of the bushes and brush along the shoreline (OUCH)! An hour and a half was plenty of time and we were happy to reach the exit point. Shivering and hungry we exited our tubes but we can all proudly say that we conquered “The Hooch!”
1. In the mountains, deer have the right of way…ALWAYS! Bambi’s mom nearly killed us but thank God for anti-lock breaks.
2. Water shoes are a necessity for tubing in rapids to protect your pedicure; I chipped my polish something awful on the rocks because I was barefoot.
3. Some of the best adventures are those with the least planning! I was apprehensive because I didn’t do my usual due diligence but this trip turned out to be pretty awesome.
Looking to plan a similar outdoorsy excursion? Here are some helpful websites:
- Unicoi State Park – http://www.gastateparks.org/Unicoi
- Tubing – http://www.helentubing.com/
- Things To Do in Helen, GA – http://www.helenga.org/entertainment,
Check out Part 2 of this adventure, Visiting Anna Ruby Falls! Also check out more pictures from this trip in the photo gallery.