Wanderlust {Helen, Georgia}

I mentioned a few days ago that Honey landed a new job! Well, he had three days off before he started this Monday so we decided to check something off of our 40×40 lists: Shoot the Hooch! We had no real plan, so late the night before we looked at couple of places to put in the river down here in Atlanta and nearly fell out of our seats at the $26 PER person charge. A quick search revealed that we could do it in Helen, Georgia (about an hour and a half drive) for $5 person!!!! And, just like that, we were off on a Wednesday adventure!

I can’t say enough good things about our trip! My sweet reader Christi recommend Cool River Tubing on Instagram. The process was easy… head to their Chattahoochee Outpost, park for free, purchase your hand stamp, board the shuttle and shoot the hooch! We opted for the short one-hour route, but there is also a longer two-hour option. Both are $5 or $9 for unlimited rides. I would recommend wearing water shoes, but that’s all you need to bring. Everything else is included. Also, they will store your car key and driver’s license in the main building for you because you WILL get wet!

The shuttle transports you up the river to the place where you put your rafts in. There are stairs to help you get down the embankment. There are small raftes for kids and larger rafts for adults. You can strap up to two rafts together, and the straps are complimentary. Kids have to wear life vests and those are complimentary as well.

The river flows at a very gentle pace and the little rapids are just that…. little. I was not worried at all about the kids.

Whenever we got to a slightly deeper area (I’d say we hit maybe two), the littles hopped off their rafts and swam along side us. They were so silly, “accidentally” falling off more than once.

The water was so refreshingly cool, very shallow (knee deep in most places), and clear. I loved all of this because I could see the bottom. By the time the Chattahoochee makes it’s way to Atlanta, it’s deep and murky.

The littles raved about it the entire time! It was really so much fun! At the end of the hour(ish), you find yourself right back where you started. There are nice clean changing rooms and restrooms to put on dry clothes.

I should note here that Helen, Georgia is nestled in the Blue Ridge mountains in North Georgia. What makes it so unique is that the little town is a re-creation of an alpine village complete with cobblestone alleys and old-world towers!

Our little rafting adventure left us starving. Like I said, we had absolutely NO plan, so it was really fun to fly by the seat of our pants for a change. We stumbled upon Hofers German Bakery & Cafe and had the most delightful meal.

After lunch we walked the Alpine village. The incredible aroma pouring out of Hansel & Gretel’s Candy Kitchen was irresistible. The littles chose caramel and chocolate covered apples and Honey and I went with fudge. It was amazing!

John was beside himself to get in The Jerky Store. I found the people in there to be just that… jerky, but it wasn’t enough to turn Honey and John away from buying leopard shark jerky. I wanted to vomit at the smell alone.

After our little walk around Helen, we made the short drive up to Anna Ruby Falls located in the Chattahoochee National Forest and Unicoi State Park. Admission is $3 for adults and free for kids.

The hike to the waterfalls is relatively short at only about a half of a mile. It is uphill and a little steep in places, but there’s no reason not to make a leisurely stroll of it.

We were so in awe when we made it to the top. Nobody has ever accused me of being “nature girl”, but even I could appreciate it! (Side note: I’m getting WAY better on the nature girl thing. Trying to keep up with my boys!)

After cooling off with cold waters on the observation decks, we started our way back down. I couldn’t help but marvel at this shot… two young boys running down the mountain without a care in the world. No devices, no tv, just them and nature.

Back at the visitor’s center we spent a while on their observation deck as well. Most of that time was spent looking for trout (all three Georgia varieties can be seen here) and watching mister snake. Do you see him?

We won’t soon forget our fun, adventure filled, no agenda day driving up to Helen. I can’t say enough good things about it and KNOW we’ll be back! And, without further ado, I’m going to go ahead and call “Shoot the Hooch” on our 40×41, 40×42, and summer bucket lists COMPLETE!!!!!


PS. By Honey’s calculations we did ALL of this plus the gas to get there for LESS than the $104 it would have cost us for one hour in the Hooch in Atlanta. :-)

PPS. I ran into a sweet blog reader while rafting down the river!!!!!!! It’s such a small world. I’m so glad you said HI!

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19 thoughts on “Wanderlust {Helen, Georgia}

  1. I'm SO glad you had a great time! And you ran into a blog reader anyway? I KNEW we should've waited until Wednesday! xoxo

  2. What a beautiful, serene and adventurous day! Your photos are gorgeous and if I had been that blogger, I would have fallen out of my raft to see you there! Great job on your lists! I am plowing through mine, with your inspiration. :-) Happy Fourth of July, everyone. Please pray for our country and world. Jane, SD

  3. That sounds so fun! I'm sure there are things like this to do in Gatlinburg, and we're there all the time, but we end up in the places every time we go there. This makes me want to get a little more adventurous!

  4. Looks like everyone had a wonderful time and it's so good to know that Helen is the cheapest place to shoot the Hooch while still being a great experience. My honey has never been down the river and I think a trip to Helen will be an upcoming weekend adventure.

  5. I hate to admit that as a native north Georgian, I have never been to Helen but now I am itching to go!! I have been all around Helen as my daddy worked for the US Forest Service and our Sunday drives often took us to the mountains. Since my husband is German, he would enjoy that bakery…ok, I would enjoy it too as I have never met a Carb I did not like!! I think you are doing a great job of being intentional in getting your list of activities marked off this summer. If you do not have a plan, you will go nowhere fast!!

  6. Aww, Amanda! You were in my backyard! I'm glad you enjoyed your day in the mountains. Its a great destination for a hot summer day.

  7. We are planning a trip to Atlanta and thought this might be a fun spot to stop at. This might be a silly question, but did you find there were lots of "critters" in the water? We live in FL and tubing makes me nervous bc there are always gators and the like.

  8. Silly question – what camera did you take? When we go I would love to take pics but don't want to drop my phone in the Hooch!

    1. We have a waterproof one that I forgot :-(. I did bring a waterproof pouch from a water park visit though with my iPhone. I just took it out carefully a few times to snap pics.

  9. We are planning on doing this with our son when he is a little older. We have tubing down here, too, but I am paranoid about snakes all over, etc and the water can be a little muddy down this way. My SIL and her family love Helen. Someday, we plan to camp at Unicoi in our RV- I would really love to go there in the fall and take a picture of the leaves changing over that gorgeous lake!!!

  10. That is so great! It takes me back to my childhood. My nana and pawpaw lived just outside of Helen, and volunteered at Anna Ruby. My summers up there were magical!

  11. That's great that a reader recognized you on your rafting trip! You are, after all, 'kind of a big deal' :-) I hope to run into you and your family when you come out to California! ;-)

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