How to Get to Anna Ruby Falls Near Helen, GA

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[Updated September 21, 2021] Among the 100+ North Georgia waterfalls, Anna Ruby Falls was both the first I remember visiting as a child and the last one we visited in 2020 before travel was discouraged.

Not to be confused with Ruby Falls in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Anna Ruby is one of the four most impressive waterfalls near Helen GA.

The others include DeSoto Falls, Dukes Creek Falls, and Raven Cliff Falls.

It’s one of our favorite GA waterfalls for a number of reasons. First, it’s an easy National Recreation Trail hike (details on that below) through a gorgeous part of the Chattahoochee National Forest, with rushing waters visible and audible most of the way.

Secondly, it’s one of the most attractive waterfalls in northern Georgia. It originates atop Tray Mountain (GA’s 6th highest peak), and is comprised of two different mountain streams coming together.

Curtis Creek (on the left) drops 153 feet, while York Creek drops 50 feet.

At the base of the falls they come together to form Smith Creek, which flows into Unicoi Lake. So while the 1600-acre Anna Ruby Falls Scenic Area is technically part of the national forest, it’s literally surrounded by Unicoi State Park & Lodge.

In short, the entire area around these beautiful north GA waterfalls is one ginormous playground for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers.

There are lots of opportunities for fishing, hiking, ziplining, and geocaching nearby, and Helen is just a short drive away.

So here’s a look at the history and hiking options at Anna Ruby Falls, as well as directions on how to get there from Blue Ridge and Helen.

READ MORE: 101+ Things to Do in North Georgia

Anna Ruby Falls, GA Info

ADDRESS:  3455 Anna Ruby Falls Rd, Sautee Nacoochee, GA 30571

PHONE: (706) 878-1448

COST OF ENTRY: $3 per person (ages 16 years and older); ages 15 years and under are admitted free of charge. An Anna Ruby Annual Pass is $25 per person; a $35 annual Friends and Family Pass allows admission for the passholder plus two adults. Interagency Annual Pass, Senior Pass, & Access Pass are also accepted.


• From Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend
9:00am to 7:00pm, 7 days a week.
No admission after 6:00pm.

• From Labor Day Weekend to the end of Daylight Savings Time
9:00am to 6:00pm, 7 days a week
No admission after 5 :00pm

• From the beginning of Standard Time to Memorial Day Weekend
9:00am to 5:00pm, 7 days a week
No admission after 4:00pm.



Smokey the Bear Statue at Anna Ruby Falls Visitors Center
Smokey the Bear at Anna Ruby Falls Visitors Center

Love North GA Waterfalls? Check out these great guides!

The 20 Best North Georgia Waterfalls (& How to Get to Them)

The 10 Best Waterfalls Near Helen GA

The 10 Best Waterfalls Near Blue Ridge GA

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How to Get to Helton Creek Falls in Blairsville GA

How to Get to Hemlock Falls at Moccasin Creek State Park

How to Get to Minnehaha Falls on Lake Rabun

How to Get to Panther Falls & Angel Falls at Lake Rabun Beach

How to Get to Long Creek Falls in Blue Ridge GA

How to Get to Sea Creek Falls in Suches, GA

How to Get to the DeSoto Falls Scenic Area Near Helen GA

How to Get to Dukes Creek Falls Near Helen GA


Anna Ruby Falls History

Anna Ruby Falls is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia, which were formed around 300 million years ago when continental plates collided.

The indigenous Cherokee and Creek people inhabited this area for hundreds (perhaps thousands) of years. But hey were forced to relocate to Oklahoma in the Trail of Tears signed at New Echota in 1836.

But their names for many of North Georgia’s creeks, mountains, and rivers (see: Chattahoochee, Nantahala, Ocoee, etc.) are still used today.

Colonel John H. Nichols was reportedly the first European settler to discover the twin waterfalls of Curtis Creek and York Creek while horseback riding in the mountains. He named them after his only daughter, Anna Ruby Nichols.

By the late 1800s, this area was being deforested for a timber mill in Helen at an alarming rate. So the Chattahoochee National Forest was established in 1936 in order to restore the forest and protect both the watershed and the wildlife that inhabits it.

The U.S. Forest Service now leases the land to the Cradle of Forestry, a historically significant non-profit forest conservation initiative that’s based in North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Rental Cabins in Helen GA

Couple Hiking the Anna Ruby Falls Trail near Helen GA
Hiking the Anna Ruby Falls Trail


Anna Ruby Falls Trail (Easy)

The main Anna Ruby Falls trail is arguably among the easiest waterfall hikes in North Georgia. The .8-mile out and back trail begins at the Anna Ruby Falls Visitor Center, and is entirely paved.

The path meanders along the rushing stream, with rhododendrons, wildflowers, and massive granite boulders along the way. There are numerous interpretive signs on the area’s history, geology, and wildlife.

Note that although the trail is wide, it is also fairly steep (average grade 8%, max grade 18%), so it may be difficult for wheelchair or stroller users without assistance. Dogs are allowed here, but must be kept on leash at all times.

This trail can also get quite crowded on the weekends: Weekdays or early mornings are your best bet for avoiding the masses.

Still, the gorgeous view from the top– where you can take in the 150-foot drop of Curtis Creek and the 50-foot drop of York Creek down the side of Tray Mountain (GA’s 6th largest peak)– is totally worth it. This is one of our favorite North Georgia waterfall hikes.

READ MORE: The 20 Best Things to Do in Helen GA

Smith Creek Trail to Anna Ruby Falls in Unicoi State Park near Helen, GA
The Smith Creek Trail to Anna Ruby Falls

Smith Creek Trail (Moderate)

When it comes to waterfall hikes in GA, the 8.4-mile Smith Creek Trail from Unicoi State Park Barrel Cabins & Lodge to Anna Ruby Falls is one of the longest and least crowded.

Unfortunately, recent users report it is also among the least frequently maintained, so if you do hike it please proceed with caution.

Though you may have to climb over a few fallen trees or work through some overgrown sections along the way, this is still a wonderful walk through the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, with around 1,663 feet of elevation gain

Dogs are allowed on leashes here, and the trek is especially beautiful when wildflowers and rhododendrons are in bloom in spring and early summer.

NOTE: The Smith Creek Trail was temporarily closed due to COVID-19 in July 2020, so you’ll want contact the Visitors Center about its status before planning your hike.

READ MORE: The 10 Best Restaurants in Helen GA for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Lion’s Eye Nature Trail (Easy & Wheelchair Accessible)

If uphill hiking to Georgia waterfalls isn’t suited to your interests or abilities, this short loop trail nest to the Visitor Center offers a wheelchair-accessible way to explore the sights and sounds of the forest.

There are guide rails and interpretive signs (including Braille for the vision-impaired) all along the trail, as well as various touch boxes and benches to sit on while listening to the stream rushing alongside it.

One of our favorite facts we learned on this trail was about the variety of wildlife found in the area around Smith Creek.

Despite the fact that Anna Ruby Falls is near Helen, GA, animals such as Wild Turkeys, White-tailed Deer, Black Bears and snakes have been known to drink from the creek’s waters.

READ MORE: 10 Fun, Festive Ways to Celebrate Christmas in Helen GA

Curtis Creek and York Creek, the twin falls of Anna Ruby Falls, GA
The twin waterfalls of Anna Ruby Falls, GA

Anna Ruby Falls Directions

How to Get to Anna Ruby Falls From Helen (6.1 Miles)

From South Main St in Helen, head west on GA-17 N / GA-75 N S Main St / Unicoi Turnpike.

In 1.4 miles, turn onto GA-356 E. Go 1.3 miles, then make a slight left onto Anna Ruby Falls Road.

After 1.4 miles, you’ll make a left turn to stay on Anna Ruby Falls Road.

After 2.1 miles, taking a slight left will take you into the Anna Ruby Falls Gift Shop/Visitor Center parking lot.

READ MORE: The Top 10 Treehouse Rentals in the Georgia Mountains

Mary Gabbett and Our Dogs at Anna Ruby Falls Viewing Platform

How to Get to Anna Ruby Falls From Blue Ridge (@52 Miles)

From downtown Blue Ridge, GA, follow US-76 E approximately 21 miles.

In Blairsville, turn onto Murphy Hwy (.1 mile), then left onto Blue Ridge St (.1 mile), then right onto Hunt Martin St (.3 miles), then right onto Cleveland St (.4 miles).

Continue onto US-129 S / US-19 S for 6.9 miles. Turn left onto State Rte 180 (If you reach Vogel State Park, you’ve gone too far).

After .9 miles you’ll turn right onto GA-348 E. Follow that for 14 miles, then make a left onto GA-75Alt S. After 2.3 miles, turn right onto GA-17 S/GA-75 S. Go .4 miles and turn left onto GA-356 E.

After 1.3 miles, make a slight left onto Anna Ruby Falls Rd. In 1.4 miles, you’ll make a left turn to stay on Anna Ruby Falls Rd.

After 2.1 miles, taking a slight left will take you into the Anna Ruby Falls Gift Shop/Visitor Center parking lot.  –by Bret Love; photos by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett


Leave No Trace logo

We encourage anyone who loves the Blue Ridge region to learn about the Leave No Trace principles of responsible environmental stewardship. 

Stay on marked trails, take only pictures, pack out your trash, and be considerate of others who share the trails and parks you explore. 

Remember that waterfalls and rocky summits can be dangerous. Never try to climb waterfalls or get close to a ledge to get a selfie.

When you're exploring the wilderness, it's better to be safe than to be a statistic!

The BRMTG was created by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett, the award-winning team behind the world-renowned responsible travel website Green Global Travel. Born and raised in North Georgia, Editor-In-Chief Bret Love grew up hiking and camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains with his family. A professional writer/editor since 1995, he's covered travel and culture for 100+ publications, including American Way, Destination Marriott, Georgia Travel Guide, National Geographic, and Southbound. In 2010 he co-founded the award-winning website, Green Global Travel, which is ranked among the world's top travel blogs. Since launching BRMTG in 2020, he and Mary Gabbett have visited 50+ Blue Ridge Mountain towns together. Though she lived in NYC for 14 years, photographer/Business Manager Mary Gabbett's family has Georgia roots dating back 200+ years. Her great-grandfather was President of the Western Railroad of Alabama. Before moving to Atlanta in 1989, she fell in love with the North GA mountains, where her aunt owned a cabin. In 2010 she co-founded Green Global Travel, and has since traveled to more than 40 countries on six continents. Her photos have appeared in numerous travel publications (including National Geographic and Southbound) and various textbooks.

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