Anna Ruby Falls
Anna Ruby Falls is located near Unicoi State Park and the City of Helen, a famous tourist destination also known as the Alpine Village of Helen. Water flowing over Anna Ruby Falls originates on Trey Mountain in underground springs that channel rainwater and melting snow into Curtis Creek and York Creek. A rapid elevation change of 153 ft. in Curtis Creek and another 50 ft. drop in York Creek creates the twin waterfalls known as Anna Ruby Falls. At the base of Anna Ruby Falls, Smith Creek channels water from the falls into Unicoi Lake.
Two hiking trails beginning at the Unicoi State Park Visitor Center are the only ways to reach Anna Ruby Falls. The easier half mile Anna Ruby Trail is paved to accommodate wheelchairs and it has benches for resting and observing the view. For people who enjoy more strenuous hiking, the Smith Creek Trail winds 4.6 miles through dense patches of rhododendron, mountain laurel, hemlock and ferns before it ends at the twin waterfalls.
Anna Ruby Falls was named after Anna Ruby Nichols, the daughter of John H. Nichols, a wealthy resident of White County who owned most of the land around the waterfalls during the late 1800’s. Because the land was heavily forested, it was purchased by the Byrd-Matthews Lumber Company at the beginning of the 20th century but the terrain proved to be too difficult for logging operations and the company’s enterprise failed. In 1925, the U.S. federal government designated a 1,600 acre area surrounding Anna Ruby Falls as the Anna Ruby Falls Scenic Area and made it a part of the protected Chattahoochee National Forest.
Real estate in areas near Anna Ruby Falls
No real estate development is permitted in the areas of protected land around Anna Ruby Falls and closest homes are in Helen. With a population of only 420 residents in the U.S. Census of 2000, Helen is renowned throughout the South for its Bavarian mountain chalet style architecture and picturesque cobblestone streets. Homes and properties in Helen are located in beautiful rural areas where population densities are as low as 800 people per square mile. Because Helen is a tourist destination with a German Alpine design theme, home prices typically range from $300,000 to over a million dollars and available properties usually sell quickly.
In the rural country areas outside Helen, modern log cabin style homes with mountain views on 1 or more acres of land are available from $250,000 to $500,000. More upscale residential developments are anticipated in the future because the demand for high value properties in the North Georgia Mountains has steadily increased. The demand for commercial real estate is strong in Helen because the large number of tourists creates profitable economic potential for businesses that are located near the center of town.
There are no lodging facilities, stores or restaurants at Anna Ruby Falls or anywhere else inside the Anna Ruby Falls Scenic Area because it is a federally protected public park. The primary activities in the park are hiking, sightseeing and picnicking. One of the most popular areas for picnics is along Smith Creek where 11 sites with tables and grills are available, and children can feed the fish in Smith Creek from the viewing deck of the Visitor Center.
People can enjoy fishing in Smith Creek for brook trout, rainbow trout and brown trout. There are two sections of Smith Creek in which fishing is allowed with a license. One section is above Lake Unicoi and the other section is below the lake. Lake Unicoi is also kept well stocked with catfish, bass and brim, and fishing is permitted from the shore as well as from 6 designated fishing docks.
Lodging accommodations are available in Unicoi State Park at 82 tent, trailer and RV campsites, 33 walk-in campsites and 30 fully equipped cottages. The park’s Lodge & Conference Center also has 100 guest rooms with mountain views and meeting facilities for groups of up to 500 people at a time. At the Unicoi Restaurant, buffet dining is available for breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days per week all year round. Unicoi Park also contains 6 large picnic shelters, 4 tennis courts, and facilities at Lake Unicoi that rent canoes and pedal boats.
Because Helen is such a big tourist attraction, many excellent hotels and bed and breakfast inns are located near the center of town. Rustic and luxury vacation cabin rentals are available through local real estate agents or directly from owners who advertise their properties in local newspapers and on the Internet. Helen also contains supermarkets, antique stores, more than 40 restaurants, and art stores featuring a colorful array of Appalachian folk art from well known painters, potters and sculptors.
The City of Helen sponsors many different public events throughout the year including a hot air balloon race, Bavarian Nights of Summer, Winefest, Volksmarch and Oktoberfest. Helen’s annual 6-week Oktoberfest from September through November features oompah music bands and street celebrations where thousands of steins of Marzen brew are served, and it has become one of Georgia’s biggest public parties. During the Holiday season from Thanksgiving through December, Helen celebrates Alpenfest with family oriented entertainment and Christmas celebrations.