Elevation: 4,784 feet
Location: Brasstown Bald
Visited: November 2021
Brasstown Bald is the highest point in Georgia. It is situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains and is surrounded by the Chattahoochee-October National Forest. To reach the summit requires a short, but steep hike up a paved path to an observation tower that provides a 360-degree view of the surrounding area.
After spending the day in Atlanta, we still had a few hours of daylight left so we decided to hit up Brasstown Bald along the drive to Knoxville, Tennessee. It was a bit of a detour to get here, but it’s not like we had much else to do since it was American Thanksgiving and pretty much everything was closed.
We arrived at the parking area in the late afternoon. The official trail starts beside the Visitor Centre and restrooms, both of which were closed when we visited. In the summer, an alternative option is to take the shuttle service from the parking lot to the summit. But the trail itself isn’t that long, only 1.9km (or 1.2 miles) round trip. It sure is steep though.
The trail to the peak of Brasstown Bald is paved and winds uphill through the forest. There are a few signs along the way that provide some fun facts about the forest, including about the tragedy of the American Chestnut trees which were destroyed by a blight, and how forest lands are a source of nearly two-thirds of the freshwater in the lower 48 states. In addition to being educational, the signs provided a good excuse for us to catch our breath.
The trail leads to a circular observation platform that is located beneath an old wooden fire lookout tower. There’s an official plaque just before that provides more information on Brasstown Bald.
After climbing up a few steps we were rewarded with sweeping views of the mountains and surrounding area in every direction from the viewing platform. There are also plaques at the north, east, south and west viewpoints and signs that provide more information about the mountains and the names of the nearby peaks.
We headed down and walked back the way we came. Alternatively you can walk along the road, which is shorter, but much steeper. We opted for the scenic route through the forest. On the hike back we passed a few other groups of hikers who most likely timed their visit to coincide with the sunset.
While there are a few other trails in the area, we hopped back in the car and continued driving along the winding country roads towards Knoxville.