A Guide to the Perfect North Georgia Summer Day
I’m an avid, last-minute, weekend getaway traveler. This past weekend I headed north to the Georgia Mountains to visit my family in Cumming, Georgia. This day trip is perfect for you if you’re in or around the Atlanta area for vacation and want to feel the mountain air and escape the city for a bit. It’s actually great for pretty much anyone because let’s be honest… Is it possible to not enjoy a North Georgia summer day? I hope you enjoy this day trip as much as I did.
The Night Before the Adventure Begins
If you are planning on being on the road all day, pack your meals & bags the night before. It makes waking up your crew filled with not-so-morning-people not so bad. Yes, I am talking to you if you’re even THINKING about pressing snooze! Don’t forget to bring a change of clothes and your swimsuit. That’s how you know the real fun is going to happen.
I use the awesome app, Roadtrippers, to plan my routes. My cousin Natasha is a trip planning Guru and if it’s a place she’s been, she knows all of the ins-and-outs about the spot. We use Roadtrippers to stay on the same page and find new places close to our route!
I also have some maps throughout the More Detours site that lead to great locations. Check the one for this trip out on this post and be sure to bookmark & Pin for later!
Wake Up and Hit the Road, We’re Going to Toccoa
I hope you’re up early! Let’s talk about our first stop: Toccoa Falls.
We’ve hit Toccoa plenty of times before, but this spot never gets old, so we headed out early Saturday morning to start our day. Toccoa is hands down one of my favorite waterfalls I’ve visited to date. There’s something about it that is so dreamy. For the time that you’re there, it doesn’t feel like you’re in the South. You feel like you’re in some tropical oasis. Funny enough… the falls sits on a college campus.
When you arrive, you’ll see a Welcome Center/Store. It is filled with awesome t-shirts and novelty items from awesome brands like Wander North Georgia. The entry into the falls is $2 for adults and $1 for seniors. Children under 6 are free!
Toccoa Falls is 186 feet tall! In case you didn’t know… That’s 26 feet HIGHER than Niagara Falls! It just goes to show some of nature’s treasures are highly underrated. This beautiful waterfall is the highest free falling waterfall East of the Mississippi.
The trail up to the falls is a brisk walk that brings you to an amazing pool of water. Along the way, you’ll see butterflies and beautiful greenery amongst the stream. I won’t tell you to dip your feet in the water since it’s not allowed (we found out the hard way), but I will tell you that this place is always an adventure and it’s a must see in North Georgia.
A Walk in the Woods to Two Private Falls
Next on the list are two spots new to my world - High Shoals Falls and Blue Hole Falls. Now I’ve got to say, Mother Nature really did a good job on these two waterfalls.
Many sites rate this hike with a moderate difficulty. For most of our group, this was said to be true. The kids got very tired towards the end of the hike, so I would prepare to take a few breaks if you’re traveling with the kiddos. Or if you’ve got a knee that likes to act up while traveling uphill like me. I found out I’m a bit out of shape on this hike - but it’s was 100% worth it! On your route back to the car, you will gain roughly 500 feet elevation!
The trip is 2.5 miles roundtrip. North of Helen, you will find a gravel tread path off of Forest Road 283. Be sure you find that marker because we found ourselves backing down a mountain in a 4-Door Jeep Wrangler… Not the most fun part of the trip, but definitely a memorable adventure. You’ll take the trail in and out of curves and come to a trailhead. Follow the green trail markers along the path.
The what seems to be all downhill trail is led by rushing water you can hear in the near distance. You’ll pass backpacking campsites and notice the amazing canopy built by Mother Nature herself. You’ll come to a small wooden bridge before spotting a green marker that will bring you to Blue Hole Falls. Follow the side trail to the left and behold: a beautiful blue hole and an amazing waterfall grotto view! The moss along the path was rich and kept my interest, but the view outshined all else at the bottom of the falls!
Hop back on the main trail to see High Shoals Falls. You’ll quickly hear the water start to roar and be greeted by mist and a spectacular view once you follow the curves and staircase. After 1.35 miles, you will be surrounded by flowing water, beautiful greenery and a waterfall with a drop of 50 feet. Talk about a grand finale!
You’ve got 2.5 miles to hike until you complete your waterfall adventure for the day. Remember to drink tons of water on your hike and to be careful of slippery rocks and other dangers near the falls.
End the Day on a Sweet Note: Alpine in Helen, Georgia
After a long day, who wouldn’t want to satisfy their sweet tooth? Our family headed into Alpine in Helen to see the colorful streets and taste some delicious treats. Helen is a quirky little town with something for everyone.
This time I stopped in Homemade Ice Cream, Gifts & More for a scoop of their White Chocolate Mocha ice cream. I ate it up too quickly to catch a photo! I also visited the Hansel and Gretel Candy Kitchen (as always) because it has the best fudge a girl could ask for. My last stop I made in Helen was HGA Gifts & Apperal. A sweet woman greeted me and helped me and I found the perfect souvenir to take home! Make sure to stop in these Helen classics!
We arrived in Helen just before sunset. There was live music, families laughing, friends chatting and beautiful colors painting the sky. It was a perfect way to end a long day in the mountains.
There are so many ways to spend a summer day in the North Georgia mountains. But this route will always be one of my favorites. A scenic drive, breathtaking waterfalls, private swimming pools, shaded areas, the perfect place for a picnic, and the solution to a sweet tooth. Now that sounds like the perfect summer day to me. What is your ideal summer day?
Do you have a route in North Georgia you like to follow over the summer? Tell us about it on Instagram with #livethedetour or the comments below!