Saturday, December 9, 2023 • Helen, GA • Course Map
Tucked away in the north Georgia mountains near Helen, a small town that refashioned itself years ago into a Bavarian-style tourist destination and now draws thousands every year to its Oktoberfest festival, Unicoi State Park and Lodge plays host for the first time this year to this race set for just over a week before Christmas.
Runners will start the race inside the 1,050-acre park, which lies just a few minutes’ drive north of Helen, at the parking lot along Unicoi Bottoms Road.
From there, the out-and-back course heads across the grassy meadow near the parking lot and into the forest, where runners will hit the trail along the park’s more than a dozen miles of single-track hiking and mountain biking trails, including the Bottoms Loop, Lake Loop and Helen Trail.
Organizers emphasize that while the trails are more difficult than your typical road race — since they’re run on natural surfaces, the terrain is uneven with rocks, sticks and maybe even muddy stretches, depending on the weather in the days leading up to the event — they’re not overly technically challenging for most runners and make an excellent race for beginning trail runners. “This is a great first race for trail newbies!” the website says.
Along the route, you’ll run through meadows, across streams and keep largely on single-track dirt trails through the forest inside the park, which should feature all the reds, golds and yellows of fall color on the leaves this time of year.
This race is organized by the Georgia-based Rum Bum Tours, which also puts on a number of other half marathon and other distance races in the north Georgia area throughout the year.
Race Weather & Climate
Located in the foothills of the north Georgia mountains, about 90 miles northeast of Atlanta, Helen typically sees December temperatures that average between 30°F and 51°F, while precipitation amounts average just over 6 inches, making December its fourth-wettest month of the year.
On the day of the race (Dec. 9), the average low is 30°F and the average high is 51°F.
- $75 and up for the half marathon
- $45 and up for the 10K
To reserve your spot in the 2023 running of Unicoi State Park’s Helen Holiday Trail Half Marathon or 10K race, register online at UltraSignUp.com.