Gear up for Outdoor Adventure — in White County, GA—Where Mother Nature Comes to Play

By Pamela A. Keene


Pack it up this fall and get ready for some high adventure in White County, Georgia. Named Georgia’s official Outdoor Adventure Destination, White County continues to grow outdoor offerings, so there’s always something new to whet your appetite. With 28 miles of National Forest hiking trails, some of the most scenic and challenging on- and off-road motorcycling and bicycling in the Southeast, 14 miles of the Appalachian Trail, four treetop zip line courses, more than 20 waterfalls, three state parks, golf, horseback riding, year-round trout and bass fishing and one of the state’s two adventure lodges, Helen, Cleveland and Sautee Nacoochee can satisfy your wanderlust.


White County is nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s part of the 40,000-acre Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest. Known for its natural beauty, Northeast Georgia offers activities for seasoned adventurers and novices alike. Brilliant fall colors paint the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where visitors will find an adventurers’ paradise, 90 minutes or so north of Atlanta. Elevations ranging from 1,400 to 3,500 feet produce notably cooler fall temperatures than the rest of the state and create scenic backdrops for adventure.


Experience the thrill of the 7.5-mile course used by world-class athletes in the 1996 Olympic Mountain Bike competition. It’s often the site of regional and national cycling events, or you can just ride for fun. The switchbacks, elevations and hairpin curves of the Richard Russell Scenic Parkway give motorcyclists and cyclists alike exhilarating thrills. Also known as State Route 348, this part of the Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway provides easy access to two of the area’s most popular trails – Dukes Creek Fall and Raven Cliffs.


White County claims a 14-mile trek along the Appalachian Trail, which begins nearby. One of the most popular stretches is from Unicoi Gap to Hog Pen Gap, a combination of challenging and moderate terrain that sets the tone for the entire 2,200-mile AT hike from North Georgia to Maine. Smoky Mountain Outfitters, an AT Conservancy Certified outfitter in Cleveland, and Helen’s Unicoi Outfitters have all the right gear for everything from trout and fly-fishing to hiking, climbing and repelling.


Unicoi Adventure Lodge is one of the focal points of outdoor challenges in the county. Just north of the Alpine Village of Helen, near the graceful Anna Ruby Falls, the state park offers mountain bike and hiking trails, 3D archery, survivalist camping, rock wall climbing, fly fishing, paddle boarding, slackline and kayaking. Eleven zip lines and seven suspension bridges provide birds-eye views of the lush forest and lake at the 1,000-acre state park.  Camp in barrel cabins or at a primitive campsite under the stars, or relax in the comforts of the newly renovated lodge.


The Chattahoochee River winds through downtown Helen, home of Oktoberfest. Cool River Tubing and Helen Water Park & Tubing offers colorful inner tubes to float in the sparkling waters while zip liners soar across the river in the trees above. Try the Cool River Tubing Challenge course, too. Nearby outfitters Zip ‘n’ Time has one of the longest and highest zip lines in the state, a three-level challenge course and offers deep-woods tiny treehouses for overnight stays.

unspecified1Saddle up for horseback trail rides Sunburst Stables, but there’s more — ATV trail rides, fly boarding, boating trips and zip lines broaden your perspective. Plan a restful round of golf at either Innsbruck or Mossy Creek.  Drink in nature at one of White County’s seven wineries including the Unicoi Wine Trail and just sit back and enjoy the scenery.


Adventure insiders know that White County is where Mother Nature comes to play. For more information, call the White County Chamber of Commerce at 706-865-5356 or visit

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