Atlanta TrailsbyTrailful Outdoor Co

Unicoi State Park’s recently renovated ‘Barrel Cabins’ feature a unique, retro vibe, updated amenities, a tranquil atmosphere, and serene views of Unicoi Lake through a leafy, shady forest.

Tucked into a wooded hillside overlooking Unicoi Lake, twenty barrel-shaped cabins offer peaceful wooded views with through-the-trees glimpses of the lake, wrapped in an ultra-unique, retro exterior.

The newly-renovated, uniquely-shaped Barrel Cabins have a fun, retro vibe with 70’s-inspired furnishings, fabrics, colors, and textures. The updated, cozy interiors, modern fixtures and appliances, and the serene mountain setting make for a fantastic base camp while exploring Unicoi State Park and the surrounding area.

Unicoi State Park Cabins: our review of the park's retro-cool, newly renovated barrel cabins

Unicoi State Park is located just 90 miles north of Atlanta and only minutes from downtown Helen, in the heart of some of the best hiking and camping areas in the North Georgia mountains. The park offers more than 12 miles of hiking trails, eight miles of mountain biking trails, ziplining, canoeing, kayaking and swimming, and plenty of adventure and exploration on its 1,050 acres. It’s a great place to relax, chase adventure, and enjoy North Georgia’s sublime outdoor beauty.

Unicoi State Park’s recently renovated ‘Barrel Cabins’ feature a unique, retro vibe, updated amenities, a tranquil atmosphere, and serene views of Unicoi Lake through a leafy, shady forest. #cabins #northgeorgia #atlanta #georgia #travel #outdoors #adventure

Our Unicoi State Park cabin review

We recently had a chance to spend a few nights in one of the park’s newly renovated two bedroom, one bath Barrel Cabins. By the end of our stay, we found ourselves wishing for at least a few more nights in the cozy, retro space.

Unicoi State Park Cabins: the park's retro barrel cabins are comfy and cozy, with views of Unicoi Lake

The cabin’s main entry opens onto an inviting living space complete with wood-burning fireplace for those chilly mountain evenings, a sofa and two club chairs upholstered in vintage-inspired fabric, and a flat screen tv. Two large sliding glass doors lead from the living area onto a large covered deck, arguably our favorite spot in the cabin. The spacious deck is the perfect place for morning coffee or evening cocktails. Our particular cabin offered peaceful glimpses of Unicoi Lake’s glassy water from the deck.

The cabin’s kitchen and eat-in dining area with seating for four are also located on the first floor. The fully-equipped kitchen features a full sized refrigerator, electric range and stove, and microwave. The kitchen cabinets are filled with plenty of pots, pans, dishes and utensils to keep a family of four happy and fed. Large windows allow plenty of sunlight and fresh air into the kitchen and dining area.

The cabin’s single bathroom is just off the hall between the living area and kitchen. The bath features a large counter top with sink, and tiled shower/bathtub combination. The park provides plenty of soft, fluffy towels and washcloths in the bath.

Unicoi State Park Cabins: our review of the park's retro barrel cabins

Upstairs, two spacious bedrooms complete our cabin. One bedroom features a king-sized bed while the other offers two beds. Each bedroom is nicely appointed with soft linens, fluffy down comforters, side tables, a dresser and an upholstered chair. Each room’s decor is modern and clean with hints of the familiar retro theme found throughout the rest of the cabin.

Best dog-friendly cabins near Helen, GA: our review of the retro Unicoi State Park barrel cabins

The outdoor living areas around the cabins are also fantastic. Each cabin features a charcoal grill and picnic table nearby all in a beautiful wooded setting. It’s the perfect spot to chill out, throw some steaks on the grill, and meet the neighbors!

And several of the cabins are dog-friendly, so even your furry adventure buddy can get in on the fun.

Our favorite hiking trails near Unicoi State Park

Towering waterfalls, sweeping vistas, and shady forests surround the Helen area, and some of our favorite outdoor adventures are within a short drive of the park. One of Georgia’s most stunning waterfalls, Anna Ruby Falls, is a must-see when visiting the park. To visit this spectacular double waterfall, hike a short .9 mile paved trail from the Anna Ruby Falls visitor’s center, or for a more challenging adventure, hike the Smith Creek Trail to the waterfall, following a historic gold mining ditch along the way.

Chase more nearby waterfalls on the High Shoals Falls Trail, hiking to two gorgeous waterfalls set in a lush, mossy forest. For one of the most stunning views in the area, hike the Yonah Mountain Trail through a rocky, wildflower-filled forest to exceptional summit views just south of Helen. Or, in the park, explore the Unicoi Lake Trail, catching beautiful lake views from the trail that winds just below the cabins.

Check out our bucket list of our top hikes near Helen for even more amazing trails and waterfalls in the area, or find a great nearby adventure with our Georgia Trails Map Search.

Unicoi Lake in North Georgia

Unicoi State Park Cabins: bottom line

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the park. The cabin’s cozy feel, retro vibe, and amazing covered deck made our Barrel Cabin a fantastic space to relax, unwind and enjoy the gorgeous North Georgia mountains. The centralized location made adventuring in the area a breeze, with easy access to hiking and biking trails, swimming, paddling, and the best restaurants and shopping in Alpine Helen.

While we received a complimentary stay at the cabin, all opinions above are our own, and based on personal experiences during our stay.

Leave No Trace: Atlanta Trails, Asheville Trails and Trailful are official Leave No Trace partners

Please Remember

Always leave no trace, pack out everything you pack in, and if you see trash, pick it up and pack it out.

Stay on the marked trail, tell someone where you're going, pack safety and wayfinding essentials, and don't rely on a mobile phone to find your way. Please always practice good trail etiquette. And before you go, always check the trailhead kiosk, official maps, and the park or ranger office for notices of changed routes, trail closures, safety information, and restrictions.


Eric Champlin is a creative director and photographer who loves to explore southeast. He's the co-owner of Trailful Outdoor Co, a locally-owned hiking outfitter shop in Hiawassee in the Georgia mountains near the Appalachian Trail. He’s also the co-founder of Atlanta Trails and Asheville Trails, digital magazines that highlight the South’s best outdoor adventures. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.