Are you new to RVing and looking for a surefire good “early-on” experience? Or, maybe you’re just looking for some mighty consolidated good times rather than just driving through entire monotonous states. The Southern Highroads Trail is your perfect medium-distance RV path to see baldest and tallest southern Appalachian peaks, sky-high waterfalls and valley apple groves, learn about Native American life in the area, walk through old growth forests, and step into mountain streams full of trout. And there is no better beginning and ending point for this trail than Helen, scarcely a day trip up from Atlanta.
Vacationing RV’ers want a little smattering of everything a region has to offer with ample naturalistic campgrounds to choose from and minimum big city congestion. The Southern Highroads allows you to explore the most breathtaking peaks, valleys and waterways of the southern Appalachians. The 364-mile round trip crosses through the Chattahoochee National Forest of Georgia, The Sumter National Forest of South Carolina, the Nantahala National Forest of North Carolina, and the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee. Of course, you could spend a week in any one of these parks, but you can see a good cross-section of their wonders within 20-30 miles off the road.
Helen is just 15 miles from the main trail, and offers easy access to cover the eastern or western half of the circle depending on how much time you want to spend on the road. Another reason it makes sense to start here is the range of activities available—you may cut back to Helen to delve deeper into your interests, be it waterfall hikes, easy mountain biking arrangements, shopping for local crafts and eating German food, or visiting the old Hardman Farm.
Finally, we believe in the quality and proximity of the RV camping options in our vicinity:
Where to stay near in Helen
Unicoi State Park has a walking path that connects it to Helen and it is an easy ride to Anna Ruby Falls. You can wake up in the morning and stroll around Smith Lake. You’re away from it all, but when the kids get restless, you can quickly respond.
Unicoi has many different options for RV camping: 30-foot and 40-foot sites, some ADA as well as “buddy sites” where you can create a communal awning to awning with friends. Full hookup RV sites include water, power and sewer, a fire ring, grill and picnic table. Other choice camping sites have water, power, basic campsite amenities and a convenient dump station located nearby.
Unicoi is a pet-friendly park, provided the furry friends are on a leash.
Creekwood Resort is privately run by a local couple who take pride in offering a private getaway experience. They have 17 level concrete sites and many with full hookups in markedly wooded areas. They offer WiFi and expanded cable, as well as a clean bathhouse with showers. According to reviews, the owners are accessible and do whatever they can to help you have a great vacation. No long-term residents live in this park: it’s for the tourists. Bring your dogs, but not your kids—this adventure is for adults only.
Yonah Mountain Campground is at the base of . . .Yonah Mountain. The spacious spread includes a clubhouse with WiFi capabilities, swimming pool, laundry center, picnic pavilion, bath house, and playground. All sites are either 30- or 50-amp with full hookups (water, electric, sewage). They also have a pet-friendly park.
Recommended four nights:
Day 1/Night 1: Helen
Day2/Night 2: en route to scenic Blue Ridge
Blue Ridge is a quaint downtown at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains and near the Toccoa River, featuring a historic train ride. On your way from Helen, you can make a stop at Brasstown Bald, the highest point in the state of Georgia.
Day3/Night 3: en route to historic Franklin
Just a few miles outside of Blue Ridge, you’ll pass through Ellijay, home to the Red Apple Barn—in the fall you can pick your own apples, but you can pick flowers as well. In Hayesville, NC there is a Cherokee Homestead exhibit where you can learn about the early inhabitants of the area and their tragic displacement. This is the longest haul and will take you a bit over 3 hours.
Day 4/Night 4: en route to Helen
Abridge the circle, heading south from Franklin on 441, which becomes part of the trail again. You will swing by Tallulah Gorge State Park. This giant two-mile-long gash in Georgia’s rolling terrain, drops nearly 1000 feet deep over near-vertical walls to the remote canyon floor below. You can see dramatic views from the rim of the gorge, see Tallulah falls, one of six falls, and cross a suspension bridge over the river below.
When you get back to Helen, you might stay a few more nights to get back around to experiencing those Bavarian vibes in all their glory. RV campgrounds are plentiful on the Southern Highroads. Happy trails!