Anna Ruby Falls

Two for the Price of One Map
From Anna Ruby Falls

I just read an article in the Gainesville Times , saying that Anna Ruby Falls Scenic Area will be closed for 45 days, starting Feb 9th. And with the Spring approaching fast, my mind turns to waterfalls and they way they sparkle with the Spring thaw. So I thought I might post a few pics of Anna Ruby from the Spring of 2008. And wonder what exactly can they do to renovate a natural wonder.

Anna Ruby Falls is an uncommon twin waterfalls located in the Anna Ruby Falls scenic area at the very back of Unicoi State Park . You can drive all the way to the Visitor Center and park (with a parking fee of $1 a person), or if you are more adventurous you could hike the Smith Creek Trail (5 miles) from the Park to the Scenic Area (parking is $3 a carload), though this trail will also be closed during the construction period. From the Anna Ruby Falls visitor center it is a simple .4 mile stroll along a riverside, walking on pavement to two separate observation decks. Not much of a hike (Trail Info), but a splendid diversion during the non-drought months.

The taller of the two falls plunges 153 feet from Curtis Creek on the left, and the smaller on drops from York Creek about 50 feet. At the bottom, you walk alongside the newly formed Smith Creek, which is the parcel of water you walk alongside on the approach. The name Anna Ruby comes from Anna Ruby Nichols, the daughter of John H. Nichols, a Colonel and early settler of the area, who owned much of the land there years ago (I here they are trying to make his old homestead across from the Nacoochee Indian Mound into another park for our enjoyment). The two observations decks (prior to remodel) are placed on each end of the walkway afforded a better view of each fall individually, rather than taken as a whole.

We stopped by here during one of visits to Helen, Georgia as it is only a few miles away and an easy stop for those who are not looking for strenuous exercise, yet are looking for something else interesting nearby. There is a 3 mile trail that runs from Unicoi into Helen, if you need to work off the beer and bratwursts.

So the Spring is here and the waterfalls are ready to please. When April rolls around you ought to venture up to Anna Ruby to see what additions or improvements the caretakers of this Georgia wonder have in store for us. I have put it on my list of things to do.

Snow Mountain

The Baboon and the Snow (map)
From Snow Mountain

With the winter coming and beginning to go I started to trek back outside. A couple of weekends ago, some friends and I decided to go to Stone Mountain . There’s a bit of a hubbub going around about their newest attraction Snow Mountain and we wanted to see what the fuss was about.

Now, I’m sorry if I sound like a broken record, but Stone Mountain Park is a tremendous asset to our community. Nearby, beautiful and offering a little something for anybody, it truly is one of the things I love about living in the Atlanta area. Being so close and somewhat commercial, I think it gets overlooked and underappreciated. It is the place to go for me, when I don’t have the time to take on a larger project. That being said, my friends and I on the spur of the moment decided to travel go there to see what this “Snow Mountain thing” was all about. They knew I knew the park, and they didn’t want to pay 25 bucks for the attraction sight unseen (ticket prices), they thought I might know how to get close to it without paying a dime (they were right).

First, we parked here , behind the train-building-visitor-center for free, just off downtown Main street. I have an annual pass for parking but I wasn’t in my car. We walked the two or three blocks to the entrance, where I had planned to catch the loop trail around the backend to approach the attraction. When we hit the train tracks, there was a communal decision to walk the tracks to Snow Mountain (its on the great lawn where the lightshow and carving are). I told them to turn one way, they all thought we should go the other, which was significantly longer. I deferred because I had always wanted to hike the complete train tracks at Stone Mountain.

You probably can only do this in the Winter months post Christmas when the train isn’t running. And considering the train completes the loop in a little about 45 minutes running at 5 mph, the train loop is probably a little more than 3 miles (with the walk from car we might have strolled 4). It’s a nice flat surface and easy terrain, so the hike is pretty simple, but was genuinely enjoyable for me, getting a new long look at an old friend. And really, is there anything more romantically nostalgic than old trains and train tracks. One friend I was with couldn’t stop singing “King of the Road .’ To me, it was more of a “Stand By Me” moment.

We walked the rails counter clockwise, encountering the mountain to our right, the quarry exhibit to our left, and came very near the old grist mill on the right. Just beyond the gristmill, and signs that said do not continue, we entered the delightful world of Buzzard Hollow . It was like stumbling upon some cool ruins, except the ruins were recent and pretty goofy. But it made for some excellent photos and a real fun moments prior to reaching our destination. I can’t recommend you do this because it amounts to petty trespassing, and there was some creepy guy staring at us the whole time through a window of Mr. Picken's Apple Pickin Party Room.

We arrived at Snow Mountain shortly before nightfall. I was using my personal camera (not the one I usually use for this site, but a Fuji FinePix Z, very compact, very secretive), so the quality may not be up my usual standards. (One of the reasons for this simple post is to see how this new camera's pics look on the web)

Snow mountain looks like a lot of fun, for $25 bucks you get to play in the attraction all day, and get a two hour slot to get sled to your hearts content on the hill (I am sorry about the timing of this post as it is scheduled to close down March 8). They provide the snow tubes, they even have a conveyor belt system to haul you and your tube up the slope, taking the one dreadful chore of sledding off your hands. We timed some people from bottom to top up the hill and it took about 9 minutes to reload yourself, meaning that with proper dedication you could get 12 or 13 runs in your two hour window. If I was estimating I would place it at 10 runs (for value rationalizing purposes and ease of calculation). So if sliding down a hill is worth about $2.50 to you, this is a great value. And if they didn’t block this out in two hour increments the wait to sled would be horrific.

But there’s more, there’s a place to build snow forts and have snowball fights, along with a firepit to roast marshmallows and warm up a bit. And these things you can use all day long. You can even leave the roped off area to visit other parts of the park, and return later. If you want to just watch your kids have fun (and only pay for them) there’s a bit of an observation deck, but I can’t imagine being able to stand there for twelve hours, and I don’t know how you would be able to get your kids to leave without being inside with them to drag them out.

From Snow Mountain

Anyway, it did my heart good to see a nice patch of winter snow a few scant miles from my house, to get reacquainted with my good friend Stone Mountain, and just to get the old legs moving again. The baboon presents Stone Mountain, featuring Snow Mountain, for those with the same questions we had.


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