This highest place in Georgia allows you to look out toward four states from the 360 view from the observation deck across the Chattahoochee – Oconee National Forest to Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Take the half-mile trail up from the parking lot at Brasstown Bald or catch the bus, but the views at 4,784 feet of the Chattahoochee – Oconee National Forest are well worth the trek either way. When settlers misheard the original Cherokee name for the mountain, Brasstown stuck even though the colors you look at are nothing but brass. Although it’s a splendid view any time of year, peak season is during the second and fourth weeks of October for full fall colors.

Hiking Up the Trail to the Brasstown Bald Overloook
Hiking Up the Trail to the Brasstown Bald Overloook

🧭Where:

Central North Georgia, two hours north of Atlanta; Hiawassee, Georgia

⏰When:

Visitor center hours Monday to Sunday, 10 AM to 5 PM. The Bald is not open year round closing during the winter. If you are traveling during the fall and spring, make sure you check the opening dates on their website.

⏳How much time do I need?

This is an all day trip if you’re coming from Atlanta. If you’re planning on hiking, allow for about an hour to get from the lot to the top. 

💰Cost:

$5 per person over 16 years old for day use area and visitor center. The shuttle fee is an additional $2 per person

If you have an American the Beautiful National Park pass, your entrance fees will be waved.

🚙Parking:

There is a very large parking lot but it is also very busy. I didn’t see signs of people being turned away, but it was very full when we were there.

Learning About the Early Settlers at Brasstown Bald
Learning About the Early Settlers at Brasstown Bald

🧺Food:

Bring yourself some snacks or eat a picnic in the parking lot before heading out on your hike. Definitely take your insulated water bottle with you on your hike and maybe a few pieces of candy to motivate kids (or yourself!). There are some Coke vending machines at the top and ice cream bars sold in the shop at the base. 

🌳Shade:

Most of the hike up is covered by low trees, so don’t worry about a sunburn unless you plan on standing at the observation tower for a very long time.

🚽Restroom:

There is a nice flushing restroom at the bottom of the trail as well as up at the visitor center at the top. 

🐶Pets:

Dogs are allowed on the trail but not inside the visitor center. As it can be a busy crowd, plan on bringing a leash for sure.

Brasstown Bald Observation Deck Looking To the Tower

👋Extras:

  • Check the timing for the bus to the top; it closes daily for lunch. Riding the bus up and hiking back down is definitely the easy way to enjoy this day. Ticket sales end at 4:30 so don’t wait to go.
  • Summit Trail is only half a mile long, but this is not a simple hike. It has a pretty steep grade. It’s paved the whole way up with several seats for resting on the way, but it’s pretty intense. The trail is through trees so don’t expect to see a great view until you get to the top.
  • There are stairs up to the observation deck, but an elevator is available if needed.
  • If you have more time and energy to burn, there are also several longer, less frequented trails that take off from the parking lot.
  • The visitor center is your place for souvenirs, reading material, and a few snacks. If you’re not willing to fight the crowd, this is not the place for you.
  • At night, the parking lot is still open and the lights from the Visitor Center are turned off making this one of the top star gazing areas in Georgia.
  • On a clear day, you can see the Atlanta skyline 100 miles away to the southwest.

⚠️Warnings:

  • This two lane curvy road up to the parking lot is carsickness waiting to happen. Take some puke bags if your kids are susceptible or try out some motion sickness bands
  • Don’t take the road up that goes through Helen as it’s a two lane road at times and backs up if It’s a busy vacation time on the Chattahoochee River in Helen. We learned this lesson the hard way.
  • Check your directions really well on the highway as you get closer to the mountain. My phone didn’t have signal and I needed to use a paper map to find the road.  
  • The top is closed in inclement weather so check according. If you want to check current conditions, there is a webcam available on their website that will give you the view.
  • It will be more chilly up on the deck so prepare for colder temperatures.

📝Education:

  • Ask for a Junior Ranger packet at the lookout which can be completed here by your kids during their visit.
  • There are exhibits on the Georgia Land Run, detailing who would have qualified based on the settlers gender, age, and race.
  • You will learn about the early hikers and rangers, the Native American history of the area, and the land and animals.
  • There’s a lot to learn here if you can keep your kids from wanting to go outside and look at the view.
  • Take the time to climb aboard the train engine, listen to the story of the first park ranger, and practice your early settler skills.

🗺Nearby:

The closest state campground is Vogel State Park, but there are many private ones in the area. The nearby small towns of Blairsville and Hiawassee can give supplies and would be fun to explore.

Have you hiked Brasstown Bald? I’d love to go back and do one of the trails to explore the area better. For you Georgias, what’s your favorite north Georgia trail? I need suggestions.

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