Enjoy A Mountain Getaway To Unicoi State Park & Lodge

Sponsored by Unicoi State Park & Lodge

Unicoi State Park and Lodge is the perfect place for nature lovers to kick back and relax, get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and let the power of nature relax you.

forest surrounding Unicoi Lake, GA

With spectacular views of the surrounding Appalachian Mountains, as well as easy access to all of Unicoi’s many attractions, there is so much to enjoy about this lodge.

You can stroll along miles of forested trails, cast a line in one of the park’s many fishing spots, or take a leisurely kayak trip on beautiful Lake Unicoi.

If you’re looking to get back to nature and wondering what a stay at Unicoi State Park & Lodge is like, then keep reading to find out about our experience staying there.

We have secured a great Unicoi Lake Lodge just for y travel Readers

Save 40% on overnight stays through June 30, 2023, and receive Breakfast for 2 the next morning (first night only). Use Promo Code 40MP to book online if prompted.

Offer based on double occupancy and availability. Blackout dates may apply. The discount is only available for stays through June 30, 2023.  Breakfast for 2 is first night only. Food credit holds no monetary value and cannot be cashed in or applied outside the onsite restaurants. Not applicable for OTA’s, groups or reservations of 5 or more rooms per night. No other discounts apply. Applicable fees and taxes not included.

Click here to book your stay with the discount code: 40MP

What Makes Unicoi State Park & Lodge Special?

girl Kayaking at Unicoi State Park, Georgia
Such a pretty lake

One of the things we have fallen in love with the most about the Southeast is lake life.

There is a certain kind of serenity that only a lake offers. It provides a stillness my meditating-loving psyche gravitates towards. It feels ancient and grounding and calls me to peace.

So as soon as we drove up to our barrel-shaped cabin in the forest at Unicoi State Park and Lodge in Georgia and saw the lake from our deck, I knew we were in for a peaceful family retreat.

My body moved fast to unload and unpack. Then I declared, “I am going for a walk around the lake. It’s only 2.5 miles and we have enough time before dinner.” 

I could barely wait for Craig to put on his shoes.

woman on platform looking at Unicoi Lake, Georgia
Lovely views on the lake trail

Don’t worry if you can’t stay embraced in that quiet, still energy for too long – Unicoi State Park & Lodge has plenty of adventurous activities to balance it out for you.

Where Is The Adventure Lodge, Unicoi State Park?

Stream in Unicoi State Park, GA

Only two miles from the Alpine Village of Helen in the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains in Tanglewood, Unicoi State Park & Lodge is one of the most popular and loved state parks in Georgia.

This 1,050-acre state park is centered around beautiful Lake Unicoi within the Chattahoochee National Forest.  

girl standing by kayaks at unicoi lake

The name Unicoi comes from the Cherokee word, “unega,” meaning “white.” As the state park stands on the original Unicoi Trail – a trading path that connected Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia – it’s assumed that Unicoi refers to “place of the white man”, or “the white man’s road”.

It’s where European traders swapped axes, guns and cloth with remote Cherokee villages for furs, deer skins and ginseng.

However, it is said the name could also refer to the white fog of the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

Things to Do At Georgia’s Adventure Lodges Unicoi State Park

This is more than a state park with a few hiking trails and the lodge is known as one of Georgia’s Adventure Lodges for a reason! 

Unicoi offers memorable experiences like paddle boarding, 3-D archery, fly fishing, an adrenaline-pumping zip line course, and a nearby spectacular waterfall. 

1. See the Beautiful Anna Ruby Falls 

A waterfall surrounded by trees
The twin falls of Anna Ruby

It didn’t take long on the short hiking trail to the Anna Ruby Falls for me to mark it as one of my favorite waterfalls in the USA.

The trail through the lush verdant forest past the meandering, full-flowing and cascading Smith Creek was enough for me to know this place was special.

It’s special enough to be protected from within the Chattahoochee National Forest and designated as the Anna Ruby Falls National Recreation Area. It borders the Unicoi State Park, which gives you easy access to visit. In fact, you must go through Unicoi State Park to get to the Visitors Center at the falls.

Anna Ruby Falls is a double waterfall. At 150 feet above, the Curtis Creek and York Creek (which starts high on Tray Mountain on the Appalachian Trail) come thundering down the cliff face and merge together at the bottom to form Smith Creek, (which runs through the park).

It is an impressive sight and a waterfall vista you won’t forget.

A waterfall in a forest

If the one mile return trail is not enough for you, you can hike the 5 miles from Anna Ruby Falls back to Unicoi Lodge. 

However you choose to experience it, Anna Ruby Falls is a must when exploring the North Georgia mountains. 

people standing next to a waterfall

2. Do The Unicoi Zipline & Aerial Adventure Tour 

people Ziplining at Unicoi State Park, GA

Time to get out of your comfort zone for an adrenaline rush 100ft in the air zooming across zip lines that range from 75 to 2,000 feet long.   

The Aerial Adventure Tour has three zip line courses, from novice lines to the ultimate adrenaline rush, that take you across up to 19 zip lines and 9 suspension bridges.

Be prepared for the ultimate end on the half-mile, double zip line over the lake and see if you can kick up a splash with your feet. (FYI: You really can’t!) 

people ziplining over a forest near a lake

Unfortunately, our ziplining adventure was cancelled due to a thunderstorm. We were all devastated, but all great places need an excuse to return! 

3. Kayak or Paddleboard on Unicoi Lake

people kayaking

Not only do I love being in the presence of lakes, but my other favorite thing to do on them is stand up paddle boarding. I haven’t found an outdoor activity that offers me as much Zen as silently paddling across a calm lake.

Paddling on Unicoi Lake was sublime with its pretty reflections, mountain backdrop and water so clear I could see sunken trees and giant fish swimming past.

Craig and the girls paddled beside me in their kayaks. Then we switched all of them out for a leg-pumping workout on the four-person Pontoon Pedal Boats.  

people on a paddle boat

You can rent kayaks, canoes, paddle boards and pedal boats from the Visitor Center.  

4. Go Fly Fishing in the Lake and Streams 

man Fishing at Unicoi State Park, Georgia

Throw in a line, anglers, the fish are biting!

Unicoi Lake is a great place to catch bass, bluegill and catfish and Smith Creek is the place for trout fishing, as it is stocked on a regular basis.

The section below the lake and dam (Lower Smith Creek) is catch-and-release only from Nov 1 – May 14. Fly fishing classes are offered by the park. 

5. Hit The Hiking Trails at Unicoi State Park 

There are five Unicoi state park trails of various lengths and difficulties.

All will take you through beautiful, forested settings, crossing streams and creeks and passing mountain flowers such as rhododendrons and mountain laurels.

Here are 3 Unicoi hiking trails we recommend: 

Lake Trail 

person looking at view of Lake Trail at Unicoi State Park

The Lake Trail was what Craig and I walked when we first arrived. It’s an easy 2.5-mile loop that winds around the edge of the 53-acre Unicoi Lake.

You’ll have beautiful views of the lake and mountains and you even pass by a beached area if you’d like a swimming break.

people swimming in a lake

Smith Creek Trail 

The Smith Creek Trail is 4.8 miles one way and leads from the campground through the Chattahoochee National Forest to the head of the Smith Creek at Anna Ruby Falls.

Unicoi/Helen Trail 

Why not make a fun day of exploring Alpine Helen by walking there?

A 3-mile moderate to strenuous trail will take you to Helen’s Unicoi Hill City Park. It will pass the Mountain Biking Trail and Bottoms Loop Trail along the way – so technically you’ve checked off three Unicoi trails in one! 

Archery & Air Gun Range 

girl shooting a fake gun
Air Gun Range

One family activity we loved experiencing on our Georgia state parks road trip was archery; so much that the girls have asked us to find an archery course in Raleigh for them.

Unfortunately, due to the thunderstorm we missed the 3-D Archery Range within Unicoi, but again – we’ll be back! 

The Archery & Air Gun Range is a shooting facility that is set up for static archery target practice, 3-D archery target practice and air gun rifle target practice. 

6. Stay in a Barrel Shaped Cabin 

Cabins at Unicoi State Park, GA

We’ve stayed in plenty of unique accommodation during our travels, but this was our first time sleeping in a barrel shaped cabin. 

Immersed in the forest on the edge of the lake you’ll find a small village of these cabins built on stilts. The structural design of the Unicoi State Park cabins allows the flora and fauna of the forest to exist with minimal human obstruction. 

people sitting in rocking chairs on deck unicoi state park cabins

Enjoy the rocking chair views of the forest and glimpses of the lake from your deck. The zipline was out the front of ours so we could watch the adrenaline junkies zipping past with wide smiles.

The cabins are spacious with two bedrooms upstairs, while downstairs you have a full kitchen, bathroom, living and dining rooms, and even a fireplace to enjoy.

And yes, the inside is also shaped like a barrel.

Cabins at Unicoi State Park
Cabins at Unicoi State Park

Aside from the Barrel Cabins, there are also rustic cabin options on the Smith Creek and larger lake view Deluxe Cabins. 

Don’t forget use coupon code: 40MP when booking a stay at Unicoi Lodge.

7. Visit Helen Waterpark

Helen Waterpark is just a few minute’s away from the state park and provides an aquatic oasis with water rides such as the Helens Falls Flume, a 6-story high body slide.

You can ride down one of the many tube slides or try your hand at stand-up paddle boarding in the lazy river.

It’s a great place to go when you need to cool off on hot summer days or have small kids who need more excitement than the playground.

It also has an interactive Splash Pad for toddlers and a massive Olympic-size swimming pool.

Other Accommodations at Unicoi State Park & Lodge 

No matter your style of getaway, the Unicoi State Park has your mountain retreat accommodation covered.

We highly recommend the barrel-shaped cabins for families, but you also have the following options with luxury amenities:  

Unicoi Lodge 

people sitting around a fire

Staying at Unicoi Lodge places you in the hub of all things happening at the park.

It’s where you’ll find the activity center, a small store with locally sourced goods, pool tables, restaurants, and communal fire pits in the grassed courtyard.

The Lodge at Unicoi State Park

The lodge has 100 comfortable, modern guest rooms of various sizes and plenty of those have mountain views. 

Each room comes with a snack bar, TV with cable channels, free self parking, a private bathroom with a shower/tub combinations and hair dryers, and toiletries.

Some rooms come with a lounge area. Guests staying at the lodge can enjoy a weekend buffet breakfast.

The Adventure Camp 

adventure camp unicoi

Traveling as a group or with extended family?

The Adventure Camp at Unicoi offers a communal glamping experience, with five sleeping cabins, a communal kitchen, and separate men’s and women’s full bathrooms. You also have access to a picnic area, grills, and a campfire.

The Adventure Camp has an idyll secluded location on Smith Creek where you can fish for trout or cook s’mores over the fire by the creek. 


The Unicoi State Park campground is in a beautiful, forested setting right near the Visitor Center and lake. There are 84 campsites including RV full hook ups and walk in primitive tent sites. 

Other Amenities at Unicoi State Park Lodge

As well as having excellent accommodation options and plenty of things to do, you can also take advantage of these other amenities.

  • Extra beds for children. You can request infant beds and cribs for ages 0-2, but not extra beds for adults.
  • Ticket assistance for nearby attractions.
  • 24 hour security and smoke detectors.
  • 24 hour reception.
  • Shuttle services to Helen on Friday – Sunday.
  • Business center and conference center.
  • Daily housekeeping.
  • It’s also a great destination for weddings and would make for a beautiful wedding venue.

Check-In/Check-Out Instructions

It’s very easy to check in and out of the Lodge, you simply need to show your reservation confirmation and a government-issued photo identification and the credit card or debit card you paid with.

You should make sure to report any special requests or specific accessibility needs to the lodge before arriving.

You may be asked for a cash deposit and incidental charges. There are also extra-person charges and a resort fee. You may also be asked to pay a park fee when using booking platforms.

Note: the time of check-in is after 4pm and check-out is at 11am.

Dining at Unicoi State Park Lodge 

Unicoi Lodge restaurant

The Unicoi Lodge has a couple of dining options for you during your stay.

The Smith Creek Tavern is a casual restaurant and bar offering southern cuisine. Perfect to catch the game and sample local and regional craft beer, wine and signature cocktails.

My Unicoi burger here was outstanding as were the huge pizzas with creative toppings. 

We loved playing shuffleboard and our girls became quite the pool sharks, running out to play games while we relaxed over drinks and adult conversation.

We love vacations that cater to both adults and kids like this one did.

things to do unicoi state park

With a large stone fireplace, tall ceilings and mountain views, the Unicoi Restaurant is the perfect setting for breakfast, lunch or dinner, with classic Southern and American cuisine made from fresh, local ingredients.

Attractions Nearby Unicoi State Park 

Downtown Dahlonega, GA
Downtown Dahlonega

Unicoi State Park is near the alpine town of Helen and other popular mountain towns like Dahlonega, Hiawassee, and Sautee Nacoochee. Atlanta is only 1 hour and 40 minutes away. 

The next stop on our Georgia road trip was just under an hour away at Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa. 

Before this we visited the nearby Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge and Lake Blackshear Resort & Golf Club in South Georgia.

We have secured a great Unicoi Lake Lodge just for y travel Readers

Save 40% on overnight stays through June 30, 2023, and receive Breakfast for 2 the next morning (first night only). Use Promo Code 40MP to book online if prompted.

Offer based on double occupancy and availability. Blackout dates may apply. The discount is only available for stays through June 30, 2023.  Breakfast for 2 is first night only. Food credit holds no monetary value and cannot be cashed in or applied outside the onsite restaurants. Not applicable for OTA’s, groups or reservations of 5 or more rooms per night. No other discounts apply. Applicable fees and taxes not included.

Click here to book your stay with the discount code: 40MP

Video: Unicoi State Park

4 thoughts on “Enjoy A Mountain Getaway To Unicoi State Park & Lodge”

  1. We are making our travel plans now and considered going to GA. Thankyou so much for the suggestions, you made our planning easier.

  2. My wife and I met while working at the Unicoi Lodge front desk many years ago. Together, we have over 20 years of wonderful memories of our time there helping people enjoy this treasure. Terrific article, with only a couple of items you missed that I think your readers would enjoy:

    The Wildlife.
    Deer, wild turkey, black bear, otter, beaver, every class of nocturnal critter, and of course birds, birds, birds. I have personally seen all of these, nearly everyday, many of them wondering up to the lobby doors at night. It gives the phrase “Walk-ins welcome” a whole new meaning.

    The Kissing Bridge
    In the 1977 movie Smokey and the Bandit, Burt Reynolds and Sally Fields made their iconic kissing scene on the foot bridge spanning Smith Creek near picnic shelter #4. I loved nothing more than to direct newlyweds, moms and dads, as well as silver-haired retirees to the spot so they could duplicate (while the kids go “Ewwww!”) their own memorable moment.


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