Who knew that moving to Atlanta would turn me into an outdoorsy person. My latest adventure took me to North Georgia to Anna Ruby Falls, Consolidated Gold Mine, and Helen.
We started the day with an easy meandering drive up to the mountains. As the passenger, I was in charge of bringing and then eating all the snacks and drinking all the water while curling up into odd sitting positions in an attempt to get comfortable for the mini road trip.
Our first stop was Anna Ruby Falls.
To get to Anna Ruby Falls, you drive through the lush Unicoi State Park, though it isn’t actually part of the park. The falls are named for the daughter of John H. Nichols, a wealthy White County resident who owned much of the land nearby. The story goes that that Nichols found the falls while riding through these mountains shortly after the death of his wife and child. The tallest of the two waterfalls is the Curtis Creek falls with a drop of 153 feet. The York Creek falls have a drop of 50 feet. The path to the falls is paved and is just under half a mile. Because I am apparently becoming an outdoorsy person, I agreed to visit again to do the rest of the 5 mile unpaved hiking trails.
Back on the road, we made the short drive to Helen.
On the drive to Helen, we passed campsites, wooden adventure courses, and people tubing down the streams, a beer in one hand and the other hand pushing off a rock. The alpine town of Helen, GA was once the most popular tourist destination in the North Georgia Mountains. A former logging town that was in decline, the town resurrected itself in the 1960s by becoming a replica of a German town. The Bavarian design is mandated so that every building represents this style. Helen’s sister city is Füssen, Germany, which, wouldn’t you know?, I’ve been to! We stopped in Helen to wander around and get lunch of course as a delicious German restaurant overlooking a music-filled courtyard.
Our next stop was the Consolidated Gold Mine.
Consolidated Gold Mine is the largest hard rock gold mine east of the Mississippi. Gold was first discovered in the Dahlonega area in 1828, twenty years before the Gold Rush to California. In the Dahlonega side of the mountain was an area where several extremely large veins of quartz containing gold were running together forming one giant vein that was 22ft thick. That vein is still today one of the largest veins of quartz discovered in the world containing gold. Investors bought 7,000 acres of land around the discovery site to continue mining the “Glory Hole” vein, forming the Consolidated Gold Mine. The tour takes you 200ft underground where you can see the mined Glory Hole and the tools miners used to extract the quartz and gold. After the tour, we panned for gold and each found three tiny flecks of gold for 20 minutes of work sloshing sand and water in a pan.
With gold in hand, it was time for us to head out of the mountains and back to the city.
Been to Helen or panned for gold? Tell me your adventures in the comments!