September 27, 2018
Our Favorite Hikes Within 60 Minutes of the Sylvan Valley Lodge
By: Ginevra Boyes
The beautiful mountains surrounding Helen are home to some of the best hiking trails in all of Georgia. Within the lush valleys and scenic ridges of the North Georgia mountains, you’ll find tumbling waterfalls, fantastic viewpoints, and well-worn stretches of the famous Appalachian Trail. Here are our favorite hikes located within 60 minutes of the Sylvan Valley Lodge & Cellars.
The Yonah Mountain Trail is the perfect way to explore Helen’s iconic peak, visible from the Sylvan Valley Lodge. This 4.4 mile out-and-back trail will take you from the mountain’s base in the foothills of Georgia’s southern Appalachian mountains to the mountain’s breathtaking summit. You’ll cross bridges over sparkling streams and pass mossy forests dotted with rocks and boulders. In the fall, the trail is a great place to admire the changing colors. In springtime, it’s meadows bloom with brilliant wildflowers. This moderately challenging hike involves a continuous climb uphill, but once you reach the peak, you will be rewarded with truly unbeatable views.
At just under half a mile, this short, easy hike is perfect to do with the kids, dogs, or strollers. The main attraction on the Anna Ruby Falls trail is the two beautiful waterfalls that give the hike its name, but there are many lovely sites to admire along the way. Once you reach the twin falls, there are two viewing platforms where you can watch the falls cascade over multi-tiered rock walls to the boulder-filled pools below.
3. Raven Cliff Falls Trail
The Raven Cliff Falls Trail is one of the most popular and beautiful hikes in North Georgia. This 4.9 mile trail follows a peaceful trout stream through a lush, waterfall-filled valley to a magnificent 40-foot tall waterfall tumbling from a mossy cliff tower. This is a great hike for viewing abundant wildflowers and admiring the vibrant greens of the hardwood forest.
3. Unicoi Lake Trail
If you prefer lake over mountain, try the lovely 2-mile Unicoi Lake Trail. Nestled within the mountains of Unicoi State Park, this scenic loop takes you around the tranquil shores of Smith Lake. The 50-acre Smith Lake is a popular spot for fishing, boating, and swimming, but many hikers frequent the trail around the lake as well. The lake’s pristine, glassy waters reflect the green trees and brilliant sun like a mirror. Along the way, you’ll find many great places to stop and take a dip. If you are interested, you can branch off and head to the waterfalls on the Anna Ruby Falls trail, mentioned above.
4. Arkaquah Trail at Brasstown Bald
Brasstown Bald is Georgia’s highest peak. The strenuous but rewarding 11-mile Arkaquah Trail traverses the beautiful slopes of Brasstown Bald, offering stunning panoramas of the Appalachians, Blue Ridge Mountains, and farm-dotted valleys below. When you aren’t soaking in the incredible vistas, make sure to admire the trail’s colorful ferns, mountain laurel, and rhododendron flowers. The Arkaquah Trail ends at Track Rock Gap, where you will find Ancient Native American petroglyphs carved into six smooth, soapstone boulders. Considered one of the most significant discoveries of Native American art in the South, experts believed these petroglyphs were created over 1,000 years ago. This hike is especially beautiful in the winter.
Planning a hiking adventure through North Georgia? Book a stay at the Sylvan Valley Lodge & Cellars at the base of beautiful Yonah Mountain.