Unicoi State Park, Georgia

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I better post this quick…back two weeks and the details are already fading!

This post will detail RV camping on Unicoi State Park.   We stayed 10 nites in a 32’ 5th wheel, Big Brook Loop, Site 28 of 29 total sites last week of October and first week of November 2011.  Majority of sites in this loop take rigs to 40’ and widths of 12-16 with slides (CLICK FOR PICS of SITES IN BIG BROOK LOOP).  We had no problem with our awning although we really didn’t need it for shade (see below).   Asphalt paved entrance roads to the park and within the campground.  Asphalt parking slab with 2 steps to a large hard packed dirt picnic area.  “Big Brook” stream to rear had moving but marginal flow,   might be more interesting with more rain.  Lots of trees so expect shade most of the time….it was “dark” till 9:30 am and again by 5 pm because Big Brook Loop is in a “hollow”.  Other RV sites in adjacent loops had many sites as big as ours but no sewer.  Park also has tent sites, cabins of different sizes and locations, and a Lodge with dining room.

We found few detailed reviews of this park for RV camping so we wanted to do a more detailed review with pictures (above).  Reservations are made online for Georgia State Parks but while all Georgia parks guarantee you a spot for a specific level of service (full hookup or water/electric)  they do not reserve a specific site.  We got there early on a Sunday since we weren’t sure how many “big rig friendly” sites there would be….and had no problem.  We waited for about 30 minutes as folks were leaving the site we wanted, but there were 3 or 4 to choose from that would have worked equally well.   Check park website for availability.

We made 2 weeks of peak “leaf season” reservations in February.  Relatively easy pull into Unicoi from the South, and I assume east or west.  Unicoi is at the south end of the Appalacian mountains so there will be hills and small mountains extending north up the East Coast of the US.  Towing elevations to Unicoi were less than 3000’ all the way into the park from Florida.  On our daytrips in the truck we only got as high as 4000 +/- except for a hike up the paved trail to 5000’ (Brasstown Bald).  There are many scenic, 2-lane drives through the mountains north of Unicoi that I would pave pulled our rig, albeit with slow and easy travel.  The best part about Unicoi is that you don’t have to pull into the mountains.

Anna Ruby falls just 10 minutes outside the park.  Several nice hikes within the park including the EZ Lake Park Loop.  Lodge has 3 meals buffet style with lunch and dinner best.  Relaxed and casual.  Lake trout in the evening.  Adjacent conference center can be busy but you can check with the lodge to find the “off” days.

From Unicoi there are dozens of waterfalls.  See HERE and HERE and HEREMany small towns (SEE MAP) and interesting American history within 30 minutes to an hour in all 4 directions.  Waterfall hikes as short as 100 yards and we did one that was about 5 miles roundtrip (relatively easy hard packed dirt paths….there were lots of folks with dogs).  Much more to do than we had time for in 2 weeks and enough to make coming back for additional years worthwhile.  Within a mile or two of the park is the “alpine” village of Helen, Georgia.  October is obviously “Oktoberfest” so the Fest Haus had German music, lots of dancers having a good time.  If you don’t take Helen to seriously it’s actually a nice little town.  Betty’s Grocery for most grocery/supplies and a host of interesting  local specialties.

Café La Piazza for good Italian,   Nacoochee Grill for steak, chicken seafood and great ribs, adjacent Nacoochee Village Tavern and PizzeriaPaul’s Steakhouse and adjacent  Viele Margaritas with 17 big screen TV’s for sports with a nice view of the stream through downtown Helen .  We “cooked in” except for a couple of nights out.

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Unicoi State Park, Georgia

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I better post this quick…back three weeks and the details are already fading!

This post will detail RV camping at Unicoi State Park in North Georgia.  We stayed for 10 nites the last week of October and first week of November 2011 in a 32’ 5th wheel on Big Brook Loop, Site 28 of 29 total sites.  We found limited reviews of this campground’s “big rig friendliness” but found that many of sites in this relatively small loop of 29 sites could easily accommodate up to 40 feet with dual slides up to 12’ to 16’ wide.   We had no problem with our awning although we really didn’t’ need it for shade (see below).  All sites in this loop back on Big Brook, a lazy stream while we were there but which might have more water in it during the rainy season.  Here are pictures of each site in Big Brook Loop.

The park has asphalt paved roads throughout the park and campgrounds.  Asphalt paved parking slabs at each site have adjacent picnic areas with fire ring, picnic table and lantern stand.  Water pressure was good, sewer was well located and electric had 2-30 amp circuits.  Bathhouse was clean, heated and had commercial grade washer/dryer (see pictures above).

Other RV sites in adjacent loops had many sites as big as ours but without sewer.  There is a well located and easily accessible dump site, however.  Unicoi also has a multitude of tent sites, cabins in several sizes and locations and a Lodge with dining room, conference center and adjacent rooms.  Unicoi is Georgia’s largest state park and there’s a lot to do.  There’s a big lake with beach area, lots of hiking trails (including the EZ Lake Loop Trail) and various interpretive programs.  The town of Helen is just a few miles away and there’s even a hiking path from the park to Helen.

The entire park is heavily treed and Big Brook loop is in a “hollow” which meant that the morning sun didn’t pop over the hill in front of us until 9:00 in the morning.  Because of the time of year “dark” fell before 6 pm due to the location and tree cover.  Reservations are made online with Georgia State Parks but remember that while you are guaranteed a site with the service you need (full hookups or water/electric), you do not reserve a specific site.  We arrived early on a Sunday as we had never camped at Unicoi.  We were pleasantly surprised how easy it was to find a good site.  Although we waited about 30 minutes for a specific site, as the previous family packed to leave, there were 3 or 4 other empty sites that would have worked just as well.

Although this is “bear country” we saw none.  Park advisories caution common sense regarding leaving garbage or food stored outside.  Our only animal encounter was a couple of small field mice that found their way in, presumably through the small utility access port where water lines run.  They did no real damage inside and were easily trapped and removed.  The camp store advised using Mr. Goodbar candy bars as bait, which worked great (apparently these are the favorites of the mice that get into the store).

The park Lodge has 3 meals a day served buffet style.  Although we only stopped for dinner we heard that lunch and dinner were particularly good.  Rainbow trout at dinner was excellent and served daily, along with more common fare.  We took the opportunity to eat there on our last nite in camp, having packed up for an early exit the next morning.  Note:  The Lodge is a conference center and can be “packed” with meeting folks so when you check-in (done at the Lodge) find out what the upcoming meeting schedules are.  Plan dinner for the “off” nights to avoid the crowd…although buffet style limits the delay.

The pull into Unicoi from the south was effortless.  We bypassed Atlanta preferring to take “local” roads once we got off I-75 near Macon.  Unicoi is at the southern end of the Appalachian Mountains so there will be hills and mountains extending north up the East Coast of the US.  Towing elevations to Unicoi were less than 3000’ all way into the park form Florida.  On our daytrips in the truck we only got as high as 4000’ +/- except for  a hike up the paved trail to 5000’ Brasstown Bald.  The best part of Unicoi is that you don’t have to pull into the mountains, although there are many scenic, 2-lane drives through the mountains north of Unicoi that I would have pulled our rig, albeit with slow and easy travel.

Anna Ruby Falls is just 10 minutes outside the park.   From Unicoi there are dozens of waterfalls with trails as close as 100 yards to several relatively easy hikes up to 2 or 3 miles.  See HERE, and HERE and HERE.

All the towns surrounding Unicoi (see MAP) have interesting history and are within 30 minutes to an hour in all directions from Unicoi.  Much more to do than we had time for in 2 weeks and enough to make coming back worthwhile for additional years.

A surprise awaited us in Toccoa where we initially headed for a look at Toccoa Falls (on the campus of Toccoa College.  If you’re a WW II buff you’ll want to spend several hours in the Currahee Military Museum located in “downtown” Toccoa.  Toccoa was home to a WWII paratroooper training camp located at Currahese Mountain five miles from town.  The musem has tons of military artifacts from all wars, including the Aldbourne stable , where paratroopers awaited the D-Day invasion, disassembled, shipped from England and reassembled in the museum.  Adjacent to the military museum are displays about other Toccoa favorite sons, including Paul Anderson, the last US Olympic Gold Super Heavyweight, and George Hitt, renowned sillouette artist.

Within a mile or two of the park is the “alpine” village of Helen, Georgia.  October is obviously “Oktoberfest” so the Fest Haus had German music, lots of dancers and plenty of German beers.  If you don’t take “alpine” Helen so seriously it’s actually a nice little town.   Betty’s Grocery in Helen was great and reasonable for most grocery/supplies and a host of interesting local specialties.  Café La Piazza for good Italian, Nacoochee Grill for steak, chicken, seafood and great ribs with adjacent Nacoochee Village Tavern and PizzeriaPaul’s Steakhouse and adjacent Viele Margaritas with 17 big screen TV’s for sports and a nice view of the river running through downtown Helen.

A Few North Georgia Mountain Pictures

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When we get back I’ll organize and label the different areas we visited.  Until then here are simply a few random pics:

 

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Fall in Northeast Georgia

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Well, its been sometime since our last post. The Sundance has traveled to Unicoi State Park in Georgia. Watch the pages and links that follow. Its a beautiful fall in the mountains!