This blog is based on our visit to Anna Ruby Falls during our recent trip to Helen, Georgia. If you would like further recommendations on places to eat, play and stay, please check out our full Weekend Guide to Helen, Georgia.
If you have visited the Helen area, there’s a good chance that you were within a ten-minute drive of one of our favorite North Georgia waterfalls. For those that haven’t been, Anna Ruby Falls is not a rough and rugged trail like many of our favorites are, however, these falls offer some seriously special benefits in other ways.
Anna Ruby Falls is a short, 0.8-mile hiking trail that leads to a beautiful double waterfall. The trail follows along the banks of Smith Creek the whole way up, which makes for a very nice walk. Between the sounds of the trickling creek and the several small cascades along the trail, there isn’t a single moment that isn’t just serene. While this hike is exceptional year-round, this trip in late Autumn made for some spectacular colors in the trees overhead. While most of our focus remained on the splashing creek below, we couldn’t help but catch the orange glow from the leaves above.
As you near the 0.4-mile mark on the trail, the trees open up and Anna Ruby Falls comes into view. These incredible “twin” waterfalls are the merger of Curtis and York Creeks. The two plummet 150 and 50 feet down to form Smith Creek, which then makes its way down to the Chattahoochee River.
Here at the base of the falls, you will find two viewing platforms that allow some unique and fantastic perspectives of the falls. These platforms are large with plenty of room for visitors to move about, and they have several benches so that you can sit and relax in the ambiance of the falls tumbling beside you.
Once you have had your time at the falls, the trail follows its original path back down Smith Creek towards the visitor’s center. One of the things we love about the trail to Anna Ruby Falls is its accessibility. The trail is paved the entire way, which makes it one of the few Georgia waterfalls easily accessible to ADA guests. Although it is paved, the trail does get steep a time or two, so please keep that in mind if you plan on visiting.
For those that need a bit of a challenge and the paved trail doesn’t sound like enough of a workout, the Smith Creek trail is also available and will take you from nearby Unicoi State Park up to Anna Ruby Falls. This challenging trail hikes along the Sautee Ditch, which was a waterway dug-out during the gold rush in the 1800s. The Smith Creek trail is definitely a challenge and comes in at just under 9 miles. We highly recommend reading more about the hike from our friends at Atlanta Trails if you are considering it.
Another unique experience at the Anna Ruby Falls recreation area is the Lion’s Eye Nature Trail. This trail is located just downhill from the visitors center and is situated on the banks of Smith Creek. The Lion’s Eye Trail is dedicated to those with visual disabilities so that they may enjoy the space as well.
The trail makes a small loop in a beautiful wooded area next to Smith Creek and has guided handrails the entire time. The trail also provides braille signs along the way that describe the scenes in front of visitors, and tell the history of the area. There are also several “listening benches” where visitors can sit and take in their surroundings. This is a very unique and important trail and a big part of what makes Anna Ruby special.
Anna Ruby Falls is one that we often overlook when trying to decide where to head for the day, but our recent trip to Helen brought us back here and we couldn’t be happier that it did. If you’re visiting the Helen area, we absolutely recommend stopping in here for a visit. If you just do the main trail to the falls, you could be in and out within an hour. But there’s a good chance you’ll get wrapped up in the beauty of the place and want to stay longer.