Unicoi is a beautiful state park near Helen, GA. Visiting this area in the fall is a must. We stayed here to celebrate my husband’s 53rd birthday.
We had a very interesting and uncharacteristic beginning to our time at this state park. Driving up to the entrance was a bit surreal. The bright skies became dark, the wind whipped up, and leaves fell like rain. It was actually quite like a dark fairytale-type of scene. Our jovial banter ceased and we paid close attention to the road. As we pulled up to the Visitor Center to check in, the rain came. My husband had to make a run for the building. He got the paperwork all squared away and we left with a blue tag to seek out and choose from one of the full-hookup sites. There were three spots left…an ADA site that we aren’t authorized to use, one in between two other closeby campers, and a site at the end. We chose the last one so there was at least one side to look at for views of the forest. It was a back-in site, so in order to get in this spot we had to go up the road to turn around. We got in position to back in when a large 5th wheel camper came straight at us and veered over to block the space. We tried to talk with them, but the man would not roll his window down or look at us. His wife jumped out like in the movie “Far and Away” with her blue tag and stood in the space feverishly trying to find a place to stake her claim in the rain. LOL! It was so ridiculous. In all fairness, the site we wound up getting would have been hard for them to get into, but if we just talked about it for a second there would not have been any need for childish antics. That was the first time we’ve ever experienced such absurd behavior, so don’t lose heart for camping if you’re just starting out.
We stayed in our site for about an hour, but the closeness of the full-hookup sites really wasn’t for us. So, my husband called registration (after 5 p.m.) and a lady named Robin helped us downgrade from full-hookups to just an electricity and water site in order to have more options. She was so professional and made absolutely sure we could change spots first by calling and checking with their Ranger David. He said they were pretty full that weekend but downgrading was not a problem because so many people actually like having full-hookups and want to upgrade all the time. WIN-WIN! So, Mark met with Robin and got a new red tag. We found site #1 was perfect for us. It was funny, because the sun had come out and the wind settled down as soon as we pulled into the new site. It was like a real representation of how we felt. A huge thank you to my hubby for tearing down and setting up twice in so short a time, all the while maintaining a good attitude. Thank you God for him and for working it all out way better than we could have believed. Ranger David came around several times to make sure our stay was going well. He seemed to be genuinely interested in the wellbeing of every camper there. What a great asset to Unicoi.
Mark’s birthday was the next day. It was fantastic. We went to Habersham Winery and did a tasting of their 2015 Gewürztraminer, Cherokee Rose, Peach Treat, Heritage Red, and 2014 GA Chambourcin wines. We bought a bottle of the Heritage Red. It’s a mix of red and muscadine. Then we went to Jumping Goat Coffee and bought the k-cups Ivory Snow Coffee. It has cinnamon, hazelnut, and vanilla. We bought Pioneer’s Porridge at the Nora Mill Granary after sampling some from a black cauldron. It had white and brown sugar, butter, and salt added. Oh YUM! Their Queso Blanco was good, too. In Helen we got Cherchies Hot Banana Pepper Mustard and Rold Gold Pretzel Sticks from Betty’s. All these yummy treats and I still managed to lose some weight on this trip! (The “My Fitness Pal” app is terrific. It helped me stay at 1600 calories a day.)
We finished his birthday with a nice hike around the 53 acre Unicoi Lake. It was beautiful. The trail was interesting with all the twists, turns, rocks, roots, pine needles, and views. There’s a beach with nice sand, canoe rentals, and through the rec center there’s information on zip-line adventures and archery. I think they are all in full swing during the summer months. We did see swimmers while we were there, but there was no lifeguard on duty. The dam was really interesting to see up close as we continued on the trail.
We met some nice campers with a Class A, Chris and Terri. They had a sweet trike that was actually a motorcycle with a trike conversion kit. So, it really had four tires, but you only saw three of them. I liked the tiny little bell Chris pointed out that was hanging from the bike for “safe travels”. They own a dog boarding facility called Southern Paws down in Macon, GA. They recommended a restaurant called Happy Hawg BBQ in Hiawassee, GA. We drove out there and they had the absolute best sandwiches EVER. Mark got the chopped pork and I got the carved turkey. My favorite condiment was the South Carolina Tangy sauce. We probably wouldn’t have even found it because there was a larger BBQ place before it that we might have pulled into if it wasn’t for the recommendation. We would love to go back again.
Before I close, let me just mention that Unicoi has a wonderfully stocked General Store, plenty of places to explore, and the coolest tent camping area I’ve ever seen. It’s called “The Squirrels Nest”. It’s like an apartment building without the walls. Just levels and levels of floors for setting up your tents. It has a nice sized community fire pit and area that I imagine would be nice for frisbee playing. If I were a tent camper I would want to try that out.
Unicoi State Park and Lodge
1788 Highway 356
Helen, Georgia 30545
Phone: (706) 878-2201
Visit Campground Website
Recent Rate: $50