Monday, December 17, 2012

DAY 116- Helen, Anna Ruby Falls, & the Appalachian Mountains…

It was dark when I arrived in Helen, GA last night.  Helen is a cute small German town on the south end of the Appalachian Mountains.  About all I could see were these cute German-like hamlets decorated with Christmas lights as I drove through.  My hotel recommended a German restaurant in the middle of town called Bodensee.  I had a wonderful pork dish that came on a skewer served up with a sauce and a side of cold German potato salad.  It was delightful and the German potato salad was better than I had in years. Yum!
Photos- Helen at night with Christmas Lights.

The next morning I could see the town much more clearly.  It was adorably cute with all of the German touches.  I jumped in my car and headed over to the visitor’s center.  I got directions to a trial head of a local waterfall called Anna Ruby.  I then decided that I would explore some of Helen before I headed north out of town to the waterfalls.  Well, long story short-- I ended up going back to the hotel to ask if I could park there because everywhere else in town it was a $4 to $6 fee for parking in lot that was 90% empty.  The gal at the desk said that would be fine and apologized for not telling me about the parking situation. 
Photos- Helen, GA during the day.

There’s plenty of parking but they charge and to me it doesn’t seem conducive to encouraging people to stop and visit.  However, when I talked with a coffee shop owner he said that on some weekends it gets packed with people; especially during Spring Break and the Christmas Season.  Well, maybe that’s the reason but it seemed ridiculous to me during a week day when the lots were empty.

I explored around Helen, GA going into several different gift shops and cute clothing stores.  There was a nice selection of items for a smaller community.  I also saw signs leading to a tubing area north of town where during the warmer months for $3 you could float on an intertube down the nice river past and through the town area and be picked up just south of town.  That sounded like fun and it also would explain all of the signs in the shops saying no shirts, no shoes, and no service.  There were also quite a few little hotels with cottages that you could stay in that would be romantic for a weekend getaway.  I stopped for coffee and talked with the guy for a bit while he made my coffee.

I headed north out of town about 3 miles and took a paved road to a local state park.  I drove through the park to National Forest Land where the Anna Ruby Falls Trail head starts.  There’s a National Forest Land Visitor’s Center right next to it.  I went in, paid $3 fee and then headed over to the start of the .4 mile paved trail.  I ended up talking just before I started the hike with a forest ranger.  He found out that I was from Utah and started to gab with me.  He was a nice older man who had visited Zion’s National Park and asked me what brought me to their neck of the woods.  I was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to get to the hike.  He sure did like to talk.  Eventually, another couple came up and side tracked him.  He invited me to come back and he would give me directions to where I wanted to go later in the day.
Photo- The stream along the hike on the way to the Anna Ruby Falls.
Photo- The Anna Ruby Falls.

The Anna Ruby Falls Trail is a pretty hike that goes along a stream area.  There are a couple of bridge areas where you go over the stream.  There are also bench areas to sit down as you go along, and it’s a bit of an incline to get to the Falls.  But it well worth the short little hike and drive.  It was like a triple waterfall, with two starts off the top; one started lower to one side and the other one where it ran into another waterfall area enjoyed the quiet for a while but then others with kids started to arrive and it wasn’t so quiet.  I headed back down to the visitor’s center.  The forest ranger took me to a map area and he gave me several different ways that would be a pretty drive over to Ashville, NC where I would be staying the night.
Photo- The view from Popcorn Overlook.

Next thing I found myself zooming this way and that way down some curvy two lane highway roads with some wonderful views of the Appalachian Mountains off in the distance.  But eventually I needed to get on an interstate and into Asheville before it got dark outside.  I pulled up to my hotel just as the sun was going down.

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