Unicoi State Park & Campground Review – Helen, GA

by Karen

Bicycling, Georgia, RV Campgrounds

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unicoi-state-park-helen-georgia.jpg If you’re planning a trip to Unicoi State Park in Helen, Georgia, better get your reservations early. The campground fills up fast, with the full hook-up spots going first every weekend.

During the summer months, even the tent sites are completely booked well in advance. So, what makes Unicoi such a sought after campground?

Jim and I have been volunteering at Unicoi Sate Park in Helen, Georgia since New Year’s Day.  Here are some things about this great park that we’ve noticed…

Things To Do At Unicoi State Park

  • There is always plenty to do here, and the scenery is absolutely some of the best in Georgia.
  • The campsites are large, giving you lots of room to spread out and enjoy yourself.
  • The Lodge at Unicoi has 100 hotel rooms. In addition, there are cabins and cottages available for overnight stays. A buffet style restaurant at the Lodge serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.
  • There are several hiking trails, from the easy 2-1/2 mile Lake Trail to the 5-mile strenuous Smith Creek Trail to Anna Ruby Falls.
  • Along the Lake Trail, which even the most out-of-shape person would be able to complete, there are several places along the way to sit and rest.
  • quiet-resting-spot-along-lake-unicoi.jpgThe Smith Creek Trail is 5 miles one way. There is not a shuttle to bring you back, so you need to be ready to hike 10 miles round trip. The trail is strenuous, but the pay-off is being able to see the beautiful Anna Ruby Falls.  However, if you don’t want to hike all the way, you can drive up to the visitor’s center, then hike the last 1/4th mile to the falls. It is a steep trail, but that portion of it has plenty of places to rest.
  • Bicycles are welcome in the park, but there is only one trail where you are allowed to take your bike: The Mountain Bike Trail. It is located behind the Lodge.
  • Also behind the Lodge is the Delayed Harvest Trout Stream. You need a special permit to fish there, but permits are available for free at the front desk of the Lodge.
  • Fishing at Unicoi Lake is great. There are many pictures of trophy-sized bass (some up to 13 pounds) at the Trading Post. You might catch a catfish, a bream, or a trout there, too.
  • During the season, from Memorial Day until Labor Day, you can rent a canoe to paddle around the lake, or go swimming or sunbathing at the beach.
  • The Visitor’s Center at the Trading Post is where you’ll find the schedule of programs offered each week. The Programming Staff leads many activities, such as guided bird walks, wildflower walks, and craft classes, as well as presentations on snakes, birds of prey, and native wildlife. You might learn to pan for gold, identify trees, or make a cast of an animal footprint.
  • The Trading Post itself is stocked with camping basics including firewood, ice, a small selection of groceries, and souvenirs.
  • While there are plenty of things to see and do in Helen, Georgia and in the surrounding area, you’ll have fun at Unicoi State Park even if you don’t leave camp all week!

Here’s a map of the Unicoi State Park area.

Getting Around Unicoi State Park

A word of advice: If you want to go into Helen to do the tourist thing and look through all the little shops, you will need your tow vehicle. The town is crowded on sunny days and on weekends. Expect to pay for parking in the city parking lots, and be prepared to walk wherever you go in town.

When you are driving through Helen with your motorhome or trailer in tow to get to Unicoi State Park, there will be lots of traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian, as well as horse-drawn buggies. Pedestrians have the right of way, so keep your eyes open and your foot near the brake pedal. Just take your time and keep your cool, because once you get through Helen, you’re almost there.