Southern Region Viewing Area
Vasey’s trillium or sweet wakerobin (Trillium vaseyi). Photo by Joanne Baggs.
Beside the spring wildflowers, you will also see interesting ferns, mosses, and fungi. Photo by Joanne Baggs.
Early in the spring, you will see foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia). Photo by Joanne Baggs.
Smith Creek along the trail leading up to Anna Ruby Falls.
Anna Ruby Falls Trail
Forest: Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests
District: Chattooga River Ranger District
Description: Anna Ruby Falls Trail provides easy access to one of Georgia’s best-known waterfalls and excellent opportunities to see spring ephemerals and other riparian wildflowers along Smith Creek. A paved 0.4-mile footpath leads from the parking lot to the base of Anna Ruby Falls. The shady canyon path leads visitors though forest and streamside habitats with Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), white pine (Pinus strobus), yellow buckeye (Aesculus flava), white oak (Quercus alba), hickory (Carya sp.), chestnut oak (Quercus prinus) and American holly (Ilex opaca). Walking along the trail, you will not only find spring blooming wildflowers, but flowering shrubs and a wide diversity of ferns, mosses, and fungi.
Wildflower Viewing: This easy hike is an excellent way to see spring ephemerals found in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. If you look on the slopes next to the trail, you will see a wide variety of violets and trilliums. The red flowers of the sweet wakerobin or Vasey’s trillium (Trillium vaseyi) can be found under the leaves of the plant. Also along the trail you may see Jack in the pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), false Solomon’s seal (Smilacina racemosa), meadow rue (Thalictrum sp.), foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia), and fire pink (Silene virginica). As summer progresses, a variety of asters are seen as well as other flowering plants like wood anemone (Anemone quinquefolia), jewelweed (Impactiens capensis), and narrowleaf blue-eyed grass (Sisytinchium angustifolium). Through the season, you will also see a variety of flowering shrubs and trees starting with flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) followed by strawberry-bush (Euonymus americanus), sweet shrub (Calycanthus floridus), northern spicebush (Lindera benzoin), and rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum).
Safety First: The Anna Ruby Falls Scenic Area receives a large number of visitors throughout the spring and summer. Traffic along the roads can be heavy. Weather in the Southern Appalachians is generally mild but wet, with abundant rainfall throughout the year. Thunderstorms often occur in the afternoon, and you should be aware of the weather updates. Rattlesnakes and copperheads may occasionally be present. Mosquitoes, ticks, and chiggers are common. Both mosquito and tick bites can transmit diseases, so appropriate measures, such as long clothing and repellants, should be used. Poison ivy is also present – remember leaves of three, leave it be.
Directions: Take Georgia 75 north from Helen for 1 mile. Turn right on Georgia 356 for 1.5 miles, then left at the sign to Anna Ruby Falls. Follow this road for 3.6 miles to the parking area. Admission is $3 per adult, with children 15 and under admitted free.
Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests, Chattooga River Ranger District. This facility is operated by Cradle of Forestry Interpretive Association (706-878-3574).