Anna Ruby Falls via the Smith Creek Trail Unicoi State Park, GA
miles
LENGTH 8.7 MILES
DIFFICULTY 12.2 Medium
DURATION 4-6 hours
ELEVATION GAIN
1840
feet
TRAIL TYPE
There And
Back Again
Anna Ruby Falls via the Smith Creek Trail

A great trail if you like solitude, the Smith Creek Trail to Anna Ruby Falls provides a lengthy moderate difficult hike to the stunning waterfall at the end. The majority of this hike isn't exactly the most interesting trail around, but you can hike this entire trail without seeing anyone else before dealing with the sizable crowd once you arrive at the falls thanks to a much shorter paved path route. Either way you go, Anna Ruby Falls is one of Georgia's best waterfalls and shouldn't be missed.

When you turn onto Unicoi Campground Road from the highway, look for the pay station on the right. The trailhead doesn't have a pay station so pay here or follow signs to the Visitor Center to pay there. While the parking lot is small for this trailhead, it's usually not too crowded.

The trail is blazed green, but really only at a few key intersections. At each of these, just stay straight. The trail conditions are quite varied, from wide and well maintained to narrow and overgrown. There are a few rocky sections and some light scrambling but nothing too difficult. You'll cross the creek and it's tributaries several times, some by way of foot bridges, but most without. Only one is a larger crossing and it was still easy to navigate by rock hopping.

After 4.3 miles the trail ends at the Anna Ruby Falls paved path and first observation deck for the falls. Cross over the bridge and up to the larger observation deck for a closer view. Smith Creek and York Creek converge in an impressive series of multi-tiered waterfalls, each quite powerful on its own. You'll have no doubts why the much shorter paved path is so popular. This is one of the best waterfalls Georgia has to offer.

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Elevation Map Length (miles) by Elevation (feet)
Slope Breakdown
Elevation Gain
Elevation Range
Grade Range
Length
Elevation Gain
0 - 250 ft/mi
~ 0 - 5 %
1.6 mi
185 ft
250 - 500 ft/mi
~ 5 - 10 %
1.2 mi
468 ft
500 - 750 ft/mi
~ 10 - 15 %
1.2 mi
740 ft
750 - 1000 ft/mi
~ 15 - 20 %
0.4 mi
301 ft
1000+ ft/mi
~ 20+ %
0.2 mi
219 ft
For out-and-back hikes, elevation loss is the same as the gain.
Terrain Map Click to control map
Navigation
0.0 mi
0.0 mi - Trailhead
0.54 mi
0.54 mi - Cross Gravel Road Cross a gravel road, staying straight. Signs point the way.
1.82 mi
1.82 mi - Side Trail on Right A short side trail leads to the gravel road again. Stay straight.
2.55 mi
2.55 mi - Campsites Pass a campsite on the right then the trail passes directly through another near the highpoint of the hike.
4.1 mi
4.1 mi - Side Trails on Left Stay straight, passing two side trails on the left going steeply downhill.
4.3 mi
4.3 mi - Lower Observation Deck The Smith Creek Trail ends at the paved Anna Ruby Falls Trail and the lower observation deck for the falls. Cross the bridge to continue to the falls.
4.35 mi
4.35 mi - Anna Ruby Falls Observation Deck Upper observation deck and end of the trail.
Details
length8.7 miles
difficulty12.2 Medium
duration4 - 6 hours
trail typeThere And Back Again
blazeGreen
elevation gain1840 ft.
state Georgia 
park/forestUnicoi State Park
visitor infoUnicoi State Park & Lodge
1788 Highway 356
Helen, GA 30545
706-878-2201
hours7am - 10pm
parking fee$5/Day, $50 Annual Pass
trailhead coordinates 34.726693, -83.716093 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 34°43.6, W 83°42.97 (Degree Minutes, MinDec)
N 34°43'36'', N 34°43'36'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)
Trailhead Directions
34.726693, -83.716093 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 34°43.6, W 83°42.97 most GPS units use this one
N 34°43'36'', N 34°43'36'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)
Google Map It
There is no pay station at the trailhead so either stop at the one at the beginning of the Campground Road when you turn off GA-356 or pass the trailhead, following signs for the Visitor Center to pay there.
Parking Capacity
6 vehicles plus overflow along road.
Notes
Restrooms, snacks, drinks, and merch are available at the Visitor Center.
Muddy and rocky sections. A few narrow sections with steep drop offs.
Several creek crossings. None are difficult but be careful of slippery wet rocks.
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Reviews / Comments
Average Review Rating
4 (1)
hikethesouth-6 months ago
Solitude and a Great Waterfall
If you're going to visit Anna Ruby Falls, this is the better trail to take if you want an actual hike. Most of this trail isn't the most interesting out there, but the waterfall at the end makes it worth it. You will find crowds at the waterfall thanks the the much shorter paved path, at least on weekends. Pretty well-maintained trail when I visited.
Medium | Hiked Summer 2019
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