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The granddaddy of parks in Georgia's beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, Unicoi is located four miles northeast of Helen, an ersatz Bavarian village that's one of the state's quirkiest tourist destinations. The park is set around a 53-acre lake in the lush Southern Appalachian forest of oak, pine, and rhododendron, with hiking, biking, boating, fishing, birding, and swimming at a lakeside beach among its most popular activities. Unicoi also offers a full calendar of special events, many of which celebrate the rich folk culture of Southern Highlanders, including bluegrass concerts and hoedowns, and demonstrations of such traditional crafts as ...

The granddaddy of parks in Georgia's beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, Unicoi is located four miles northeast of Helen, an ersatz Bavarian village that's one of the state's quirkiest tourist destinations. The park is set around a 53-acre lake in the lush Southern Appalachian forest of oak, pine, and rhododendron, with hiking, biking, boating, fishing, birding, and swimming at a lakeside beach among its most popular activities. Unicoi also offers a full calendar of special events, many of which celebrate the rich folk culture of Southern Highlanders, including bluegrass concerts and hoedowns, and demonstrations of such traditional crafts as quilting, basketry, pottery, and woodworking (samples for sale at the gift shop). With its central location and many reasonably priced lodging options, the park makes an excellent base of operations to explore the north Georgia mountains — you can camp, stay in lakeside cabins, or choose the lodge with its modern guest rooms and a buffet dining hall that specializes in mountain trout. Next door is Anna Ruby Falls, one of the most scenic "cataracts" in an area known for them, formed from two separate creeks coming together in a 150-foot cascade. From the lodge, a four-mile trail leads to town (indispensable during Oktoberfest when fest-goers clog the roads), with its many more diversions. One favorite? A summertime float trip down the shallow shoals of the Chattahoochee — good for the whole family.

Kap Stann
About the Expert

Kap Stann has written or contributed to many guidebooks to the American Southeast for such publishers as Moon, Avalon Travel, Lonely Planet, DK Eyewitness, and Mobil Guides.

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