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"Exploring Unicoi/Helen Trail: A Scenic Hike with a Pit Stop for Lunch at Betty's Bar" -Moderate | 5miles

Updated: Mar 3

This week we set out on what the locals call the Helen Trail. This 5 mile in and out trail starts at Unicoi State Park and heads over to Helen, GA. It was a sunny 65 degree day in February so we wanted to make the most of the day outdoors with the pups.

The trail head was well marked and the path nice and wide the entire time. This was great for the pups on extendable leashes and gave them room to romp without getting us caught up on trees and branches. You will follow the newly marked orange diamonds (seen below).

You start with an easy decline that ends in a gorgeous open field. Smith Creek borders the western edge of the field, and there we saw many anglers taking advantage of the nice day to fish for trout. Smith Creek is famous for fly fishing and there are brook trout, rainbow trout, and brown trout in the creek. Contact Unicoi State Park Visitor Center for information on fishing Smith Creek.

Stay left and walk through the field to continue on the trail. Once through the field you will travel along Smith Creek through hardwoods, old pine, mountain laurel and rhododendron. Along the creek there was plenty of room for Bleu and Freyja to enjoy some cool dips.

You then continue along Smith Creek for about 1/2 mile before coming to the footbridge. The footbridge marks the last you will see of Smith Creek until your return trip.

The remainder of the trail to Helen crosses a mountain bike trail multiple times. So keep an eye out for bikers zooming down the hills at intersections, though we never saw any. In fact, we only saw 2 other groups of hikers and the fishermen near the field, so it was a pretty relaxing hike with plenty of solitude. We hiked on a Monday, so I imagine the weekends and summer will be a bit busier.

After 2.5 miles from the trailhead, the trail dumps out into Unicoi Hill Park in Helen. Here you can explore Helen and eat lunch. We choose Betty's Grocery Bar. (Yes they have a bar outside at the grocery store!) It is a great locals bar and always has friendly people at it. It also has made to order fresh sandwiches from the deli, beer and wine. We enjoyed a Reuben and Italian Sub, both which came with chips, a pickle and a cookie. To top it off we ordered a bottle of wine, while the pups enjoyed the dog treats they have behind the bar. To get to Betty's, turn right out of Unicoi Hill Park and it will be on your left.

After a leisurely lunch, it's 2.5 miles back along the trail, so stop at anything you missed.

Directions and Parking for the Unicoi/Helen Trail can be found on google HERE.


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I do that trail a lot and it ends at the park where you can take the steps down to the BEIR (beer) garden for a cold one and a clean restroom. Love it!!!

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