Top 5 Things to Do at Smithgall Woods State Park

The gurgling creeks, lush forests, and stunning mountain scenery of North Georgia make this region a truly enchanting place. If you want to immerse yourself in Helen’s natural beauty while also experiencing its best outdoor activities, we highly recommend a visit to Smithgall Woods State Park. This hidden gem is located on Dukes Creek, one of Georgia’s premier trout streams, and features a quantity of outdoor fun for the whole family. It’s the perfect “to-do” for your mountain vacation list!

For more local places to visit much like Smithgall Woods State Park, download your free copy of our Free Helen, GA Vacation Guide! 

Our 5 Favorite Things to Do at Smithgall Woods State Park

Smithgall Woods Fishing

A visit to the park is never complete without casting the line and reeling in a big one! Dukes Creek is rated as one of the Top 100 Trophy Trout Streams in the country, so you can bet the waters will be flowing plentifully with your next catch. Dukes Creek is strictly a catch and release site and reservations are required. Trout fishing is open to the public on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.


Smithgall Woods State Park is home to nearly 28 miles of trails, so don’t forget your hiking shoes! Each trail is unique and leads you to a new stunning destination. You may see one of the most endangered tree species in North America,  cascading waterfalls, awe-inspiring views of Mt. Yonah, or historic gold-mining sites. To decide which trails are the best for you, check out the Smithgall Woods Trail Map.


Picnicking is a very popular activity for families and couples. There are many designated picnic areas throughout the park, so bring a packed lunch and enjoy a delicious meal surrounded by North Georgia’s natural wonders. One of the best places to pick up a picnic lunch is Betty’s Country Store, located just 5 minutes from Smithgall Woods National Park.


The trees in the park are teeming with several bird species throughout the year along with a few seasonal residents. Here are just a few of the extraordinary birds you could see in the park and what time of year they are most prevalent:

  • Red-Tailed Hawk (All Year)
  • Great Blue Heron (All Year)
  • Bald Eagle (All Year)
  • Wild Turkey (All Year)
  • Barred Owl (All Year)
  • Eastern Kingbird (Summer)
  • Barn Swallow (Summer)
  • Brown Creeper (Winter)
  • Evening Grosbeak (Winter)

Park Events

Smithgall Woods State Park hosts many fun-filled events throughout the month, which you can easily check on their website. Just to get you started, here are some upcoming activities that have been planned for you and your family’s enjoyment:

First Visit Tours: On the first Saturday of every month, you will take a guided tour of the Visitor Center and view the rest of the park by van. Discover the prized covered bridge, Dukes Creek, and world renowned cottages.

Second Saturday Guided Hikes: For a more immersive and informational hiking experience, a professional guide will lead you through the Smithgall Woods and introduce you to many points of interest that most visitors don’t know about. The event is offered the second Saturday of every month and depend highly on the weather.

Basic Land Navigation Buck Shoals (October 29):During this event, you will learn the basics of navigation and how to properly use a compass. It is a very informational course and highly recommended for those who spend a great deal of time in the outdoors. The class is $30 per person or $25 if pre-paid by October 22.

Owl-O-Ween (October 29): Raptor and wildlife navigator Beth Thomson will introduce you to her flock of stunning owls during a presentation about birds of prey!

Ready for a Dream Mountain Getaway? We’re Ready For You, Too!

Pinnacle Cabin Rentals, located in beautiful Helen, provides luxury cabins for your family vacation or romantic retreat. Along with stunning mountain views and rustic charm, you will also enjoy unparalleled guest services, convenience to Helen’s activities and attractions, and the opportunity to create memories that will last a lifetime! Find your perfect cabin with us today and we look forward to hosting you soon!

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