Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Helen - A Rustic Alpine Mountain Village in Georgia (No, really!)

Adventure Journal - Entry Date: November 2011 (More)
On this particular trip to Helen, we were camping at Vogel State Park. Being Thanksgiving weekend, we  knew there would be a lot of Christmas lights and decorations in the streets. Additionally, Unicoi State Park was having their "Festival of Trees" this weekend. We'd hoped to see both, but time would not allow.

We pulled into Helen mid-afternoon, and the Sun was already low in the sky. We made our way down the crowded sidewalks, and visited several shops. The candy shops and toy stores were the most popular with the kids, and there are plenty. There was a street side musician playing a violin, and I sat and listened to that for a while. He was incredible. People were lined up to ride in the holiday adorned horse drawn carriages. Toward one end of the downtown area, a bridge crosses the Chattahoochee River. Here is where the kids had the most fun. They even caught a crawdad (crayfish) the size of a small lobster.

After visiting a few more shops, we settled into an outdoor café area where a musician performed various classic rock tunes with his band in a box and a guitar. As the sun set, the thousands of Christmas lights began to glow and blink. It was a beautiful sight, but the view (and ability to photograph) was hampered by the constant flow of traffic through town. We considered having our evening meal and Helen, but the crowd made that prospect unappealing. We decided to head back to Vogel and an evening by the campfire.

The appeal of Helen varies in our family. Rebecca loves it, and the kids seem to like it as well. Me? I'd have rather spent the day at Vogel. But that's just me. For lots more pictures of Helen, plus details of places to go and things to do near Helen, click here.

Nearby destinations include Vogel State Park, Unicoi State Park, Gold n Gem Grubbin', Blairsville, Brasstown Bald, Enota Mountain Retreat, Hiawassee, Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, Dahlonega, Amicalola Falls State Park, Tallulah Gorge State Park, and much more.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Vogel State Park - Blairsville, Georgia

One of Georgia's Oldest and Most Popular State Parks
Vogel State Park is located near Blairsville in the north Georgia mountains. As one of the first state parks in Georgia, Vogel was constructed primarily by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the 1930s. Vogel is also one of the most popular state parks in Georgia, so reserving a campsite there is sometimes difficult. The park features a beautiful lake with a sandy beach and pedal boats, two playgrounds, miniature golf, a CCC museum (call the park for museum hours), and a very nice camp store and gift shop. Regarding the park's campground, Vogel upholds Georgia's high standards by providing large RV sites with water and electric hookups (sorry, no sewer).

The park has plenty of hiking, biking, and other outdoor recreation opportunities. A small creek runs through the campground providing a nice soundtrack for family adventure. If you take bikes, be aware that the ride from the campground is a breeze, but the ride back is all uphill. Vogel is in the Chattahoochee National Forest, so wildlife abounds. Be aware of black bears. They're very common.

Being just minutes from Blairsville is very convenient, especially considering the numerous events and festivals that take place in the small mountain town. Other local attractions include the Appalachian Trail, Brasstown bald (the highest point in Georgia), Helton Falls, Track Rock Gap, Helen (alpine village), Unicoi State Park, Cleveland (Gold and Gem Grubbing), Hiawassee, Blue Ridge, Franklin North Carolina (ruby mining), and much more.

For detailed Adventure journal entries and dozens of pictures of Vogel State Park, click here.