Southern Hiker.com

Brasstown Bald

by JP on May.17, 2009, under Georgia Hiking Trails

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Length: 0.6 miles

Difficulty:Moderately steep, but paved

I wish I could start this post off with some beautiful view over the Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina mountains,  but unfortunately, my view from the top of Brasstown Bald was not much better than the views I had from Clingmans Dome. It looks like that just weekend was just not my weekend for hiking Georgia and Tennessee’s highest peaks.

Despite this fact,  I will still be more than happy to tell you about the trail and the park, after all, it’s not the destination that matters, its the journey to it.

As can be clearly read on the photo, Brasstown Bald is the highest point in Georgia at 4,784 feet. The trail and the observation tower to this point are both located within a federally protected and managed park.

Warning: Tourist Area Ahead

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Upon entering the park, hikers may immediately begin to groan is dismay. There is a huge parking lot on the left that can fill up on nice summer days (I suppose there is an advantage to going on a cold cloudy day like I did because it was almost empty). In addition to the parking lot as an indicator of how “touristy” this are can be, there is also a shuttle that will bring visitors to the observation tower for a small fee. I suppose this good for this that would otherwise be unable to reach the tower, but somehow I feel these shuttles take a little value away from hiking to the top.

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Near the parking area, visitors will also find a small general store, restrooms, and the ever-present fee collection stations (not that I mind paying for preservation because I do not).

Summit Trail

For those opting to climb to Brasstown Bald, and I hope that will be all of those reading this article, the Summit Trail to the top can be found just to the left of the General store.

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This paved trail brings hikers along Wolfpen Ridge to the top of Brasstown Bald. While hiking through the trail, hikers will be treated to a unique system of rain and cloud forests unlike that found anywhere else in Georgia.

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Along this ridge, hikers will see trees that do not grow any farther south than Brasstown Bald. Rock fields also dot the trail, especially near the switchbacks.As hikers get closer to the top, they may notice that larger oaks disappear and are replaced by smaller shrubbery, and even a couple of  grassy balds.

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At about the halfway point, hikers will make one road crossing over the road the shuttle takes to the top. Stop here and have a laugh at those riding the bus because they are missing a unique forest that may not be in Georgia forever.

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One knows they are near the top of the trail, when the lookout tower and the sign that sits at the top of this page firstcome into view.

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Top of Brasstown Bald

From the top, hikers (and shuttle riders alike) can explore the nature center and observation tower at their own pace.

Inside the nature center visitors will find a history of both the human and wildlife that have been through Brasstown Bald. The tower now functions, among other things, as a wildfire lookout station. A short film describing the life cycle of the Brasstown Bald geology. The video is a little dated, so don’t expect much from it.

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The point to visit at Brasstown Bald sits atop the theatre and nature center, and that is the observation tower. Don’t get your hopes up if your are planning in going in that tall enclosed tower, that is for park rangers only. The observation deck actually sits below and surrounding that tower and is much larger.

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From the Observation Deck, visitors can have a 360 degree view with signs indicating what they are looking at.

On a cloudy day like the day I went, I was treated to a view of about 30 feet.

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Even if the views are bad from the top, there is one place where visitors can likely get at least one good vista. After returning to your car, there is an overlook on the far end of the parking lot. Because of the lower elevation, the clouds are less likely to be as big of a problem here. Check it out on your exit from the park.

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Directions:009

1. From Blairsville, GA take US-19/US-129 south for 8 miles.

2. Turn left onto Georgia 180 for 9 miles.

3. Turn Left at entrance sign, and travel 3 miles to parking area.

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