Hike a paved trail to Anna Ruby Falls, a rare tumbling pair of beautiful double waterfalls near Helen, Georgia. It’s a fantastic kid-friendly, stroller-friendly and dog-friendly hike!
LOCATION:south of Hiawassee, Georgia
OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 778 Trails Illustrated Map (find it at Trailful Outdoor Co.)
Anna Ruby Falls is a pair of beautiful waterfalls, cascading in tandem through a beautiful slice of North Georgia forest. The twin waterfalls spill from a towering cliff in wispy white tendrils before splashing and pooling over mossy boulders. It’s is a great North Georgia outdoor destination in any season – and its proximity to Alpine Helen and Unicoi State Park make it one of the most popular waterfalls in Georgia.
The hike is a relatively easy one, and though the outbound trek is mostly uphill, the trail is paved and just under a half-mile. The trail is kid-friendly, stroller-friendly and dog-friendly. And while the twin waterfalls are clearly the main attraction, the trail itself is a beautiful one. The trail climbs to the tumbling waterfall alongside a waterfall-filled creek, catching views of the spilling and splashing creek through the boulder-filled forest.
With abundant natural beauty, a rare double waterfall, and relatively easy access, this is one of North Georgia’s most popular trails, and well worth a visit.
Trail update, August 2021: Anna Ruby Falls will be closed to the public on Tuesdays and Wednesdays until further notice for repairs. Please visit the USFS website for updates.
Anna Ruby Falls Trail: the hike
The adventure begins at the park’s visitor’s center, located just outside Unicoi State Park (view maps and driving directions). The paved trail climbs a ridge above Smith Creek under the canopy of tall trees, framed by shorter, twisted, gnarly-branched rhododendron. Angled rock outcrops, covered in green moss, frame the trail’s left side as the creek tumbles loudly through the forest to the right.
The trail crosses a bridge at .15 miles, grabbing an up-close view of the creek. The creek tumbles over the boulders below the bridge, forming multiple tiers of short, cascading waterfalls.
The trail climbs steadily through the forest, the creek cascading over a rocky bed and tumbling in small waterfalls on the trail’s left. In the excitement of reaching the falls, don’t forget to keep watch for wildlife near the trail. And in warmer months, look for vibrant green mosses and colorful wildflowers. But for your safety, and to preserve the beauty of the forest, please don’t leave the paved trail.
The roaring tumble of the double waterfalls ahead becomes louder as the falls become visible through the forest’s trees. The trail levels briefly at .25 mile, passing several enormous tumbled boulders before beginning its final climb to the double waterfalls. Just after passing a trailhead for the Smith Creek Trail, the trail reaches the first of two wooden viewing platforms at just under .4 mile, catching extensive views of the twin falls.
The double waterfalls are formed as two creeks, Curtis Creek and York Creek, tumble over a massive, towering cliff below the summit of Tray Mountain. The Curtis Creek waterfall, on the left, is the larger of the two, tumbling over 150 feet into the boulder-filled basin below. York Creek, on the right, spills 50 feet before joining Curtis Creek at the base of the waterfall. The joined creeks form Smith Creek, which eventually joins the Chattahoochee River as it flows to Atlanta.
After taking in the falls from the platforms (and, of course, grabbing a photo or two!), the hike turns around, doubling back on the outbound trail to return to the trailhead. The adventure finishes at .9 miles, with the roar of the cascading creek fading in the distance.
Note: slippery rocks and fast-moving water can be extremely dangerous! Please don’t climb, stand on, swim near, or jump from any waterfall.
More waterfall adventures near Helen, GA
Up for more stunning North Georgia beauty? Hike an alternate route to the falls at Anna Ruby on the Smith Creek Trail, exploring a beautiful, mossy, creek-filled forest and winding along a historic gold mining ditch. Or explore the banks of Smith Lake and catch beautiful views from the Unicoi Lake Trail. (You’ll need to pay a separate parking fee to visit Unicoi State Park, though, since it’s a Georgia State Park, and the US Forest Service manages Anna Ruby Falls.) Or follow the nearby trails at Raven Cliff Falls, Desoto Falls, Helton Creek Falls, or Dukes Creek Falls to catch some more waterfall-filled adventure. Or explore the tumbling trout stream and a historic gold mine in the beautiful forest at the nearby Smithgall Woods State Park.
After the adventure
Head north to the mountain town of Hiawassee, nestled on the shores of beautiful Lake Chatuge, and stop by our new hiking outfitter store Trailful Outdoor Co. Our Atlanta Trails crew is in the shop every day, and we’d love to say hello in person! We stock our crew’s all-time favorite, trail-tested hiking gear and apparel brands including ENO, KUHL, Ruffwear, Osprey, and many more. Plus, we have a wall full of hiking inspiration to help you find your next adventure, and stock our full our line of Atlanta Trails apparel and locally-made gifts and goods. Looking forward to seeing you!
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.
Love the trail?
This trail is maintained thanks to the hard work of countless volunteers and donations from supporters of the Chattahoochee National Forest. Please support them by making a donation or joining a volunteer day. Let's work together to keep these fantastic trails maintained and open for use!
$5 per person. Leashed dogs are allowed.
34.757967, -83.710150 // N34 45.478 W83 42.609