Brasstown Bald (Georgia State Highpoint)

Chattahoochee National Forest, Georgia

Trip Date: Saturday, June 27th, 2020
Last Updated: Thursday, July 23rd, 2020
By Ricky Holzer

Hike Information

Rating ★★★★☆(4/5)
Overall Difficulty Moderate
Navigation Difficulty     Easy
Distance 1.2 miles roundtrip
Time 1.5 hours
Terrain Strenuous climbing, 400 feet of elevation gain
Best Seasons Spring, Summer, Fall
Family Friendly Yes
Dog Friendly Yes
Accessible Yes


Hike Summary

Located 2 hours north of Atlanta and rising 4784 feet above sea level, Brasstown Bald is the highest peak in Georgia. The hike to the top is comparable to many of the other state highpoints in the Southern Appalachians: the parking lot is very close to the summit, and the hike is a short but steep trip on a paved path. For not much effort, you can summit a state highpoint, enjoy good views, and learn more about this mountainous region in Georgia.

From the parking lot, the mountain looks like a small, rounded, forested hill, as pictured below. You can find the trail leading to the observation tower between the two buildings at the base.

The summit tower as seen from the parking lot

The summit tower as seen from the parking lot

While the path to the top is steep, it is paved and has several benches and spots with interpretive signs perfect for taking a breather. Hiking in the summer is particularly beautiful because rhododendrons and mountain laurels are in bloom, as pictured below. Due to the elevation, the temperatures here are significantly cooler, very rarely rising above 80 degrees.
In the summer, mountain laurels bloom pink along the trail

In the summer, mountain laurels bloom pink along the trail

The entirety of the trail is shaded by the dense forest canopy. At the end, you'll emerge from the forest to see the summit marker pictured below. Brasstown Bald gets its name from a bad translation of the name of a nearby Cherokee village. In the Appalachians, a bald is a name given to a mountaintop that lacks tall trees, and can either be classified as a grassy or heath bald. Brasstown Bald is a heath bald, and the summit is covered in low-growing evergreens and shrubs (though it's hard to notice because the summit is so developed). One exhibit in the visitor center at the top will teach you more about this phenonmenon.
The sign marking the summit of Brasstown Bald

The sign marking the summit of Brasstown Bald

This trip was my first in the Southern Appalachians, and I was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful it was! Although the view was obscured by a smoky haze, plenty of green peaks were still visible, as pictured below. On a clear day, you can see the skyline of Atlanta as well as peaks in four neighboring states. And in delightfully Southern fashion, you can relax and enjoy the views from a rocking chair. Even if the views aren't good, the exhibits inside the summit complex are well-done, covering everything from the history of the area, the geology of the mountain, life of Native Americans and early settlers, and the flora and fauna.
Lush forest with mountain peaks in the distance

Lush forest with mountain peaks in the distance

Hazy mountain views from the observation deck

Hazy mountain views from the observation deck

Once you're done, head back down the paved trail. Enjoy this short hike to wonderful views! Connect with me using the social media links below and share your adventures!

Important Information

Dogs are allowed on leash but are not permitted inside any buildings. While the climb may be difficult, this is still a family friendly hike. And, if you are unwilling or unable to hike to the top, there are shuttles that drive to the top -- included with the entrance fee. You can visit during any season, though the facilities are only open March-December and winter storms may periodically close the road. Expect to see many people no matter when you go.


From Atlanta, take Georgia Highway 400 north, then continue onto U.S. Highway 19. In Dahlonega, follow signs and turn right to remain on U.S. Highway 19. This road and much of the remainder of the route are extremely curvy with several hairpin turns. Turn right onto Georgia Highway 180. Once on this highway, there will be signs pointing the way to Brasstown Bald. Make a slight left onto Georgia Highway 180 Spur, and the road ends at the entrance booth and parking area for the mountain.

Google Maps Directions

Parking, Fees, and Facilities

You must pay a park entrance fee of $5/person (age 16+) before parking ($3/person after hours); interagency passholders are admitted for free with up to 3 other guests.

The facilities are typically open Thursday-Sunday during business hours from March-December, but this can change due to weather. At the bottom, there are flush toilets, a gift shop, and a visitor center. At the top, there are flush toilets, an observation deck, a theater, and nature exhibits.

Nearby Hikes

The concrete tower on the summit of Clingmans Dome
Clingmans Dome (Tennessee State Highpoint)
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
A smaller observation deck near the parking lot
Sassafras Mountain (South Carolina State Highpoint)
South Carolina

External Links