Smithgall Woods State Park and Optional Secret Waterfall - Sun, Jun 16 2019

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Smithgall Woods State Park and Optional Secret Waterfall

The Basics:
Event Type:Hike
Event Location: Helen, Georgia   Hike: Smithgall Woods State Park and Optional Secret Waterfall  National Weather Service Forecast
Date(s) & Time:Sun, Jun 16 2019  9:30 am >> Sun, Jun 16 2019 5:00 pm  (Carpool Departure: 8:00 am   *log in for location*)
Registration Opens: Tue, Jun 11 2019 6:02 pm
Registration Cut Off: Sun, Jun 16 2019 8:00 am
Event Duration:7 Hours 30 Minutes
Difficulty Rating:D3: Moderate
Distance:8.5 Miles
Trip Leader(s):
Allen D
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Member Cost:None

Participant Info:
Who's Invited: Members Only, 21 And Older Only
Maximum Group Size:12
Minimum Group Size:4
Number Registered So Far: 11 / 0 (To see who's signed up, log in to the Member Area)
Are Dogs Permitted: No


Our hike begins at the Smithgall Woods State Park Visitor's Center ($5 parking fee) at 9:30 and the carpool departure is 8:00 am from Windward Park and Ride.

Smithgall Woods State Park is a 5600+ acres park near Helen and is the state's largest conservation park. On our visit most of the hiking will a peaceful walk alongside beautiful Dukes creek on the park's remote service road (only official park vehicles are allowed). The "hike" will be at a leisurely 2.0 - 2.2 mph no-rush pace (since one of the leaders is recovering from injury) so be prepared to enjoy a slower day in the country as we intend our group to stay together and keep the pace nice and slow. Our trip inside the park will include a visit to two small but inspirational waterfalls (Chunanee Falls and Hamby Branch Falls) and we will see the remains of an old abandoned gold mining area (one of the first in the country).


  1. Mile 0.0 - 3.0: Tsalaki Trail (a ranger service road) - 3.0 miles.
  2. Mile 3.0 - 3.5: Cathy Ellis Trail - 1 mile (out-and-back) and includes a view of Chunanee Falls (pictured). The plan is to have lunch here.
  3. Mile 3.5 - 8.5 We will back track on the Tsalaki Trail (3.0 mile service road ) along the way we will hike the following 2 loops:
    1. Martin's Mine Trail- 1 mile stroll which includes view of an abandoned gold mine and small waterfall.
    2. Wetland Loop Trail- .5 miles (we may see a juvinile black bear that the ranger says hangs out here -- if we are quiet).

Our total mileage should be about 8.5 miles with about 860 feet of elevation gain. Although this doesn't quite meet the elevation criteria of a D3 hike, it's being made such because of the longer distance.

After the hike, there will be an optional drive (about 20 minutes further and 2 miles on Forest Service Road) to a secret waterfall outside the Helen area. The area is beautifully and naturally landscaped and is a secret (so we won't publish the details here). But if you hike with us this Sunday, you will be one of the few to know the secret.

Required Items to Bring:

Appropriate footwear



Recommended Items to Bring:
Use our Event Checklists to make sure you have everything you need.

Hiking Poles

How to Get There:
Event Directions:

Go North on GA 400

Right on 115/52 toward Cleveland

Left on HWY 129 at Cleveland (go 3 miles )

Right on GA 75 ALT ( go 5.5 miles )

Right on Smithgall Woods State Park

Pay $5 to park (or use annual pass if you have one)

Carpool to Event Distance (round trip):120Mile(s)
Carpool Departure Time: 8:00 am
Carpool Location:   Log in for location
Carpool Directions:   Log in for directions
Carpool Cost: Estimated cost per vehicle for this event is $48.00 using a reimbursement rate guideline of $0.400 per mile. The total amount should be divided by the number of people in the vehicle, including the driver. This is a guideline, not a rule, for drivers but the cost should not be higher unless there are extenuating circumstances.

* We encourage all members to follow our Etiquette Guidelines while participating in AOC events.

Cost Includes:

$5 parking fee at the park.

Cancellation/Partial Attendance:   Please review the AOC cancellation policy.