Brasstown Bald Wilderness Area

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From Blairsville Georgia

take US 19 & 129 south for 8 miles. Turn left (east) onto Georgia 180. Go 9 miles to Georgia 180 Spur and turn left (north). Go 3 miles to the Brasstown Bald parking area.

From Cleveland Georgia

take GA 75 north through Helen to GA 180; turn left (west) onto GA 180 (also GA 66); go 6 miles; turn right onto GA 180 spur; continue 3 miles to Brasstown Bald parking lot.

From Hiawassee Georgia

Take US-76 [SR-17] (South-East) 2.8 miles Bear RIGHT (South) onto SR-17 [SR-75] 6.3 miles
Brasstown Bald Park will be clearly marked on the right >Total Distance: 9.1 miles
Estimated Time: 12 minutes

hiking, breathtaking views, camping with electric, sewer, waterhook ups, picnic table and fire grill.


Video show, picnic area, bookstore and gift shop, hiking trails, parking lot, restrooms, exhibits, observation deck, brochures, concessions, shuttle bus.

Fees: Parking $3.00 per vehicle

For a fee of $2.00 per person, a shuttle bus can carry visitors from the parking area to the visitor center, weekends during April and May then daily from Memorial Day through the end of October. The short .5-mile paved trail leads from the parking area to the visitor center on the bald is steep but has many benches to rest along the way.

Closest town: Hiawassee, Georgia

For more information:

Brasstown Ranger District
1881 Highway 515 P.O.Box 9,
Blairsville, Ga. 30514

Phone: 706-745-6928 Fax:706-745-7494
Visitor center phone (706) 896-2556.

Brasstown Bald Wilderness and Visitor Center

Brasstown Bald view of Lake Chatuge

At 4,784 feet, Brasstown Bald is Georgia's highest mountain. From its summit you can take in breathtaking views of four states. On a clear day, you may see as far south as Atlanta.

In 1986, 11,823 acres within the Chattahoochee National Forest were designated by Congress as the Brasstown Wilderness. Since then, an additional 1,152 acres have been added. The paved trails, parking areas,and visitor center of Bald Mountain is not part of the wilderness area and is only .75 acre.

The mountain is mostly made up of soapstone, dunite, and olivine. This is the southernmost habitat for many northern plant and animal species. A northern hardwood of huge, old birches covers the north face. Rhododendron and mountain laurel are also abundant. The wildflower displays are particularly nice on the north face coves and down the east side of Wolfpen, one of the longest, highest ridges in Georgia.

The trail from the parking area to the summit, the Wagon Train Trail is well worth walking. The old wagon train road to Young Harris leads east then north into the fantastic "cloud forest" of northern hardwoods on the north side of the mountain, below the visitor center. The huge, old yellow birch are festooned with old-man's beard lichen because of the continuous moisture from cloud condensation.

Rosebay rhododendron may be found near the parking lot, followed by purple rhododendron as the major heath shrub. As one ascends, the trees gradually get shorter. One soon enters a dwarfed red oak and white oak forest where the trees are very old, twisted, and limby. The top is a shrub bald with unique mountaintop species such as dwarf willow and red-berried mountain ash.

Brasstown Bald base

Cherokee History

Cherokee legend described a horrible, sharp-clawed, winged beast who attempted to steal and eat Indian children. The Cherokees cleared the forest to capture the monster and prayed to their Great Spirit, who killed the beast, restored the children, and has kept the mountaintops clear of trees ever since.

This areas name derived from the Cherokee word Itse'yi meaning "new green place" or "place of fresh green." It became Brasstown Bald because of settler's confusion between the Cherokee words itse-yi and untsaiyi, meaning "brass."

The Visitor Center Complex

Brasstown Bald Visitor Center

The center, built of stone, offers interpretive programs tracing human and natural history of the southern Appalachian region. The Mountaintop Theater features continuous video programs. An outside observation deck provides a 360-degree view of the surrounding area. Here visitors may be awed by the view but unprotected from the wind. Because of its height, Brasstown Bald gets much weather that misses the valleys. Strong wind, rain, and lower temperatures are not uncommon. In winter there is often snow and ice. The fire lookout tower is not open to the public.