Helen Area Activities

With so much to see and do in and around the Helen area in the beautiful North Georgia Mountains, local activities abound.  Activities include hiking, fishing, climbing, boating, swimming and tubing.  Check out the photos and videos below for a closer look at just a few of the wonderful activities available in the area in and around the cabins available for rent from Acorns of Gold, LLC.

Oktoberfest

The town of Helen in the late 1960s had become a rundown place with little to offer the numerous tourists who passed through on their way to nearby Unicoi State Park. At a meeting to decide on what kind of town facelift might cause these tourists to at least pause in Helen, a man named John Kollack, who had spent much time in Germany in the military, suggested a Bavarian theme like is common in many Alpine villages in that country. Since the first Oktoberfest in 1972, success has grown by leaps and bounds, all new construction has been required to follow the Bavarian theme, and tourism has outstripped all expectations, with Helen now the second-most-popular tourist destination in the State of Georgia. Activities for all ages abound, and many are found elsewhere on this website, but the Oktoberfest is definitely the top end of the tourist season, helped along somewhat by the stunning colors of fall in the northern Georgia mountains at this time of year. The main event of Oktoberfest is held in the town’s Fest Halle, a large venue on the banks of the Chattahoochee River, where hundreds of tourists gather every night from the second weekend in September to the end of October. Festivities include Bavarian and other music; availability of dozens of different kinds of beer; German food in plenty; a floor full of dancers on the busier weekend nights; and colorful Bavarian dress by the local crew supervising and promoting the event. Smaller versions of Oktoberfest are held in numerous locations around the town, most hosted by bars and restaurants. Helen has responded to the call to become Bavarian, and it has certainly worked out well for all concerned, not the least the tourists. Visitors are mainly from a 200-mile radius that includes Atlanta, in an area where such events are not common, and where tourism is otherwise not generally big business. Come to Helen—come for Oktoberfest, or come anytime and enjoy Bavarian-style ambience and numerous other events, activities, and no small number of fine restaurants.

Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail is probably the best-known trail in the world. It runs from Springer Mountain in the central mountains of Georgia, very near Amicalola Falls, the highest cascade in the Southeastern U.S., and extends all the way to Mount Katahdin in Maine, a distance of 2,168 miles. It was officially completed in 1937, and passes through 14 states along its length. It crosses five major highways within twenty minutes of my cabins, so getting on the trail is not difficult from the Helen area. It’s a great idea to partner with someone to park a car where you expect to emerge from the trail, then enter the trail at some reasonable distance away and walk to that waiting car. Some two million people are said to hike some section of the trail every year, and a couple of thousand of them walk the entire trail in a year - making it one of the more popular activities in the area.  We are fortunate that we in Georgia are an important part of this great and well-known hiking destination and tradition.

Typical Appalachian Trail terrain in Georgia

Hiker contemplating the trail from Hog Pen Gap

Entering the trail at Hog Pen Gap

Mount Yonah

With its stunning crown of cliffs, Mount Yonah is often the first real mountain one sees on approaching Helen from the south. Yonah is the Cherokee word for “bear,” and one can occasionally still see a black bear while walking the trails of Mount Yonah. While it is easy to see the mountain, approaching it requires a bit of knowledge. As one goes down Highway 75 from Helen toward Cleveland, the first road to mention the mountain is “Yonah Mountain Road,” and it is puzzling to pull into this road and immediately encounter a locked gate. This road does indeed go right to the top of the mountain, but is available only to military personnel who train on its vertical cliffs to gain rock climbing skills, rappelling skills, and for other necessary military purposes. For the civilian, the approach is entirely different. You must continue down the highway until reaching Tom Bell Road on the left. A short distance down this road, you will see Chambers Road on the left. Turn on this road, and shortly you can follow the signs to the Yonah Trailhead parking lot. The trail is 2.2 miles in length and gains about 1,500 feet in elevation, making it one of the more strenuous activities due to the steepness. The mountain appears to be completely dry, at least on the accessible west side, so don’t expect to see streams or waterfalls. The trail ends at the junction with the military road mentioned above, but you should simply continue upward on that road or adjacent trails and you will come to the desired gorgeous view and the imposing cliffs. Stay to the right (west) side of the mountain to get to the easiest and best cliffs. One can see across the way Pink Mountain, which has a number of houses visible on it. The view from the top is spectacular, but be careful to stay away from the precipice. We saw U.S. Army Rangers training while we were there, and what they do is quite a sight, if you’re lucky enough to be there during one of their sessions. Plan on at least three hours for the round trip, unless you’re in exceptional shape.

View of Mt. Yonah

View from Mt. Yonah

U.S. Army Rangers train regularly on Mt. Yonah.

Northeast Georgia State Parks

State parks and their associated activities abound in the region around Helen, and all within easy driving distance. I won’t try to describe each one, but I’ll list them and you can find them on the map easily. Roughly, they are listed in some semblance of how far they are from the cabins.

Unicoi State Park, Helen
Smithgall Woods State Park, Helen (to be featured separately at a later date)
Moccasin Creek State Park, Clarkesville
Vogel State Park, Blairsville
Black Rock Mountain State Park, Mountain City
Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site, Dahlonega
Amicalola Falls State Park, Dawsonville
Tallulah Falls State Park, Tallulah Falls

Paddle boats for rent on Vogal Lake

Vogal State Park

Vogal State Park

Kid's Activities

A little safe rock climbing before the real thing!

Another view of kids having fun.

One of the top tubing, zip line, and wall climbing outfits.

Another well-known and respected tubing business.

Fishing and River Activities

Fishing

Plentiful supply of tubing gear

Other Areas of Interest

Helen Area Attractions

Click here to see all of the Helen area attractions.

Helen Area Businesses

Click here to see all of the Helen area businesses.

Helen Area Restaurants

Click here to see all of the Helen area restaurants.

Helen Area Waterfalls

Click here to see all of the Helen area waterfalls.