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Beginner Family Hiking Tips For Anna Ruby Falls

Located on the outskirts of Helen, Georgia and near Unicoi State Park, Anna Ruby Falls is one of the most family-friendly hikes in North Georgia. It’s a beautiful twin waterfall that’s easy accessible. It’s estimated that over a half-million guests visit the falls each year and it’s clear why. The reward at the end of the hike is worth the effort and I promise it’ll be a memorable family adventure.

Hiking Anna Ruby Falls With Kids
Anna Ruby Falls is such a beautiful North Georgia hiking destination.

Anna Ruby Falls is located in the heart of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest. The falls are just a small portion of the 867,000 acres that make up the forest. They’re also one of the most popular destinations to visit in the forest, alongside Brasstown Bald (Georgia’s highest point).

Stay in the nearby city of Helen and make a half-day trip out to Anna Ruby Falls. It’s the perfect outdoor wellness destination that will leave you feeling connected with nature and recharged.

Beginner Hiking Tips For Anna Ruby Falls In North Georgia

Did you know that twin waterfalls are considered good luck and they’re actually rare? Anna Ruby Falls is made up of two twin falls that come together to make up the Smith Creek, which flows into Unicoi State Park. I’ve hiked several falls in the North Georgia area, and against popular opinion, I’m going to say Anna Ruby is my favorite (including the ever so popular Amicalola Falls). It’s worth the drive from Atlanta!

hiking with kids at Anna Ruby Falls

Come Prepared For Your Kids Ages

The hike to Anna Ruby Falls is only a .8-mile round trip to the falls and back. Older kids can easily walk the paved path, but I recommend a jogging stroller or hiking baby carrier for younger kids. I pushed our toddler to the falls. Even though it’s a paved path, it’s rather steep at times. Fortunately, there’s plenty of resting points and benches along the way.

I wouldn’t say this is a strenuous hike. I really appreciate the paved path with kids. Even though it’s steep at times, the paved path is preferred over the backwood paths I’ve experienced from other North Georgia waterfalls. Your heart rate will jump at times, but it’s a fairly short hike. Kids practically run it on the way back (since you’re heading downward on the return trip).

Paved trail at Anna Ruby Falls
The paved trail makes a huge difference when you’re hiking with kids.

Where To Park

There is a large parking area outside the Visitor Center. The fee to visit Anna Ruby Falls is $3 per person which can be paid in cash at the booth you will pass before getting to the parking area.

If you don’t have cash on hand, guests can go in and pay the fee by card in the visitor center. The parking lot is large and we were told it hardly ever fills up to being full.

It’s odd because Anna Ruby Falls is NOT part of Unicoi State Park, but you drive through a small portion to access the falls. The Georgia State Park Pass will not apply at the falls. It’s open year round, but closed for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

Plan Which Season To Hike Anna Ruby

I don’t think there’s a bad season to visit the falls. However, we were told by a park ranger that the waterfalls are magnified during the rainy season, which makes it even more beautiful. If you find a dry break during rainy weather, that’s a great time to go. The spring season will have plenty of beautiful natural blooms along the hike and a summertime hike is far less humid than any Atlanta area hike (thanks to canopy of trees).

Kids at Anna Ruby Falls
Our toddler enjoyed the falls from the stroller… and from Dad’s shoulders.

The Final Climb Has Stairs

Technically the paved pathway winds around the creek area and takes you directly to the bottom of the falls, where there’s an observation deck. If you want to go a bit further, there are stairs that continue the last few minutes of the hike. Strollers can be easily parked near the observation deck if you want a closer look at the falls. Have your camera ready to go for photos!

The Lions Eye Trail

The Lion’s Eye Trail gives people who are blind or have visual impairments the opportunity to experience the nature along Smith Creek. Braille signs interpret various features of the area. The trail features a cable hand rail to help guide you from one interpretive sign to the next – which is really neat! The signs are written in both regular text and in braille. The trail is paved and is 0.1 mile long. Check out the Visitor Center for more information before using the trail.

Bring The Dog On Your Anna Ruby Falls Hike

Dogs are allowed on the hiking trail and they absolutely love it. Dogs must be on a leash the entire time and they’re not allowed inside the gift shop area of the Visitor Center. Dog bowls can be found near the Visitor Center restrooms, in case you forget your own. I recommend bringing a portable dog water bowl.

Stop By The Anna Ruby Falls Visitor Center

Before or after your hike, I highly recommend stopping by the Visitor Center. They have full bathrooms and a gift shop. Park rangers are on hand to answer any questions. Fun fact: Anna Ruby Falls is named after the daughter of the captain who owned the Victorian house which is now Hardman Farm Historic Site. We didn’t make that local connection… until a park ranger told us at the Visitor Center. It’s worth stopping by!

Visitors Center at Anna Ruby
Smokey the Bear statue at the Visitor Center.

Races At Anna Ruby Falls

Looking for something a bit more intense than a hike? There are multiple trail races held annually at Anna Ruby Falls. The most well known is the Helen Holiday Half Marathon. The race is 13.1 miles that takes runners throughout Unicoi State Park and the Falls. The race theme celebrates the famous Christmas festivities in Helen. Online registration opens during the summer.

Smith Creek in North Georgia

Anna Ruby Falls continues to top my list as one of the best family-friendly outdoor destinations in North Georgia. The views can’t be beat and you truly leave feeling recharged! Carve out a morning in your itinerary and take the whole family to the Falls.

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