Tubing on the Chattahoochee River near Helen, GA. (Courtesy Helen/White County Visitors Bureau)

Helen, GA in the North Georgia Mountains is famous for its quaint Alpine village, Oktoberfest, and a destination for Christmas shopping. But White County has plenty of other outdoor adventures including camping, hiking, kayaking, fly fishing, mountain biking, zip-lining, and more. 

Helen is about five miles from the Chattahoochee National Forest, where you can hike just under five miles round-trip to the double-cascade Raven Cliff Falls.

In nearby Cleveland, the multi-use trail system within the 1,000-acre Yonah Preserve is open to the public Thursday through Sunday. Access the trailhead from Albert Reid Road and enjoy some 10 acres of walking space and mountain trail biking. Yonah Mountain is one of the top three rock climbing spots in Georgia, and its climbing and trail hikes are challenging enough that the Army Rangers use them for training.

Other unique opportunities to explore on foot include a section of the Appalachian Trail, which intersects GA75 and SR348 and offers parking at both locations. 

The two-mile Andrews Cove Trail is an old logging road from Andrews Cove to the Appalachian Trail and Forest Service Road 283 at Indian Grave Gap. The NFS Andrews Cove Campground offers a scenic trout fishing stream and no-reservation, first come first served sites. 

Only enough time for a taste of the wilderness? Take a four-hour immersion, winding through the Chattahoochee National Forest, with some of North Georgia’s most scenic vistas, stream crossings, and swimming at the pool of Helton Creek Falls. 

Wanderlust Adventure Tours offers a ride in 4×4 Overland vehicles to the top of Blood Mountain at the historic Neel Gap location of the Appalachian Trail. The stone buildings were a dining/dance hall and inn completed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937, the same year as the Appalachian Trail. The building is now Mountain Crossings, a supplier and provisions shop. Part of the original inn is now run as a historic hiker hostel.  

Love water adventures? The Upper Chattahoochee River Water Trail starts at Sautee Creek and the Chattahoochee River in White County and includes Class I – III rapids. Kayaking can be a DIY or guided trip. Wildwood Outfitters takes guests on a Class I to II float down the river to soak in the scenery or a Class III rapids-running adrenaline kick. Overnight camping and other trips can be arranged.

For more details on all the adventures mentioned in this article, visit helenga.org.

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.