Glorious Fall Hikes In Northeast Georgia Mountains

Our Northeast Georgia area has incredible allure in autumn, when the trees are tinged with color and the vistas are even more stunning. This is the season when getting out of your car and taking a hike is not only refreshing, but oh-so rewarding!

autumn-streamFor a little bit of everything—mountain vistas, creeks, covered bridge, and ridge-top views—head to Smithgall Woods State Park, just outside of Helen. Stop by the Visitor Center to grab a map and get oriented. You’ll have a great choice of hikes, all that start and end right at the center.

The Visitor’s Center Loop Trail is for those who just want to experience a little walk in nature. Only one-third of a mile long, it winds around a large pasture by Duke’s Creek and offers a pair of adult swings where you can sit and relax.

The interpretive Laurel Ridge Trail, adjacent to the Visitor’s Center, is another easy loop trail that climbs to pretty views at Laurel Ridge. Grab a brochure for this hike at the center before heading out.

Ash Creek Trail is 1.5 miles one-way and somewhat rugged, requiring you to ford two streams, but it also rewards with beautiful Georgia woodlands, Dukes Creek and a crest view of Yonah Mountain.

Cathy Ellis Trail is for those who want a short jaunt with a bit of history. Just .5-mile one way, the moderate hike heads down to a waterfall, and includes a stretch that was important during the area’s gold mining days. A portion of the trail is alongside Dutch Creek.

The interpretive Martin’s Mine Trail details the mining history in this site, including a former gold mine shaft that is now home to bats. Take the short extension from the trail to see a pretty little waterfall.

Birders will enjoy the Wetland Loop Trail, an easy half-mile loop that includes a boardwalk and large deck, both great places to spot birds. Listen for frogs along here too. The park has a brochure specifically on them, titled “The Frogs of Smithgall Woods.”

Smithgall Woods Park also offers guided hikes on rotating trails the second Saturday of the month, weather permitting. Throughout the year they will have special hikes, such as an upcoming leaf identification hike and a “haunted” nighttime hike.

Smithgall Woods State Park
61 Tsalaki Trail, Helen
Parking, $5

Second Saturday Guided Hikes
October 8, November 12 and December 10, 2016
9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Learn That Leaf
Saturday, October 15, 2016; 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Haunted Hike
Saturday, October 22, 2016; 8:00 p.m. -10:00 p.m.

You can enjoy a hearty breakfast here at the Inn, then strike out for a little exercise and a healthy dose of great mountain air. Sound pretty tempting? Give us a call and come visit soon!