At almost 5,000 feet above sea level, Brasstown Bald Recreation Area & Visitor Center in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests is the highest point in Georgia. Owned by the US Forest Service and just a short drive from Hiawassee, Young Harris, Blairsville and Helen, GA, Brasstown Bald offers visitors 360-degree viewing opportunities of the surrounding areas of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and sometimes the Atlanta skyline can all be seen from the Visitor Center’s observation deck.
In addition to the spectacular views, visitors to the Bald can also enjoy an afternoon of hiking on one of three trailheads, visiting the natural science and history museum or picnicking in one of the many scenic picnic areas. Area schools can also participate in all that Brasstown Bald has to offer by scheduling a field trip tailored to your class age, size and interests. There is something for everyone to enjoy at the Bald!
Opportunities to Enjoy Brasstown Bald
Educational programs are a priority at Brasstown Bald Recreation and Visitor Center. While there, you can participate in several programs geared towards different learning goals. These programs encompass studying the local history, understanding the local culture, discovering the role of environmental science in the Bald’s current and historical settings, and participating in fun activities designed for children of all ages.
Students, homeschoolers and visitors to Brasstown Bald can take part in these daily educational opportunities. Brasstown Bald’s visitor center hosts a free scavenger hunt that encourages young minds to stay alert as they make their way around the museum’s various exhibits. Children 10 and older can also participate in the Brasstown Bald Junior Ranger Program, which encompasses learning about Brasstown Bald and the surrounding Appalachia history, environment and culture. Once children/students have completed the activities that are a part of this program, they will have the opportunity to be sworn in as a Junior Ranger of Brasstown Bald.
The mountaintop theater is a favorite of Brasstown Bald as it shows visitors a picturesque view of the seasonal changes the mountain encounters. Each season showcases a unique view of the Bald. Fall is rich with crisp, colorful leaves, while Spring and Summer show vibrant shades of green foliage complemented by bright, sunny skies. Winter is especially worth seeing at the theater as the roads to access Brasstown Bald are often closed in Winter due to inclement weather. The video offers the views that many are unable to see in person. The theater’s video shows the Bald in the very best light and at peak viewing points throughout the year. Regardless of how the weather turns out on the day you plan your visit, Brasstown Bald Visitor Information Center has two webcams which stream live feeds. These are available to view at your convenience any time of the day or night.
While informational panels are positioned on the observation deck to assist you in identifying what you are seeing, staff members are also prepared to answer any questions you may have. The visitor center is open daily from 10am – 5pm, mid-March through December, weather permitting. Although the general store stocked with locally-made products, elevator, shuttle service, restrooms and visitor center close at 5pm, visitors are welcome to enjoy the observation deck and hiking trails 24/7. Public parking is still available, as is the use of a single pit toilet, once visiting hours have ended.
Events at Brasstown Bald
The Brasstown Bald Visitor Center hosts several activities throughout the year that might be of interest to you during your travels. Some require booking reservations prior to the event. Be sure to check the calendar for a list of events and book accordingly.
Some educational events/programs that might be of interest to you include:
- A Cradle of Forestry field trip that engages students in learning about their National Forests. There are trips designed to correlate with NC state curriculum standards. These also act in accordance to US Forest Service guidelines. Trips are available for all grade levels and programs of study. See the School Field Trips page for specific information regarding the programs offered at Brasstown Bald.
- The Cradle of Forestry’s Educational Resources page which provides information for enhancing your National Park experiences. These range from Smokey the Bear to Environmental Education informational sites that come with useful links to further resource materials.
- Examples of Brasstown Bald’s programs and events include titles such “Tap into Your Forest” and “Lessons from a Black Bear: Myths and Relationships”. For more unique titles that might pique your specific interests, visit the Cradle of Forestry website.
Hiking at Brasstown Bald
Brasstown Bald boasts three trailheads – Arkaquah, Jack’s Knob, and the Wagon Train. The trailheads for each are located adjacent to the parking lot for easy access. The Arkaquah Foot Trail is 5.5 miles long and ends at Track Rock Gap. Jack’s Knob Foot Trial is 4.5 miles long. This trial leads into the Appalachian Trail and might be of interest to those who enjoy hiking along the AT. The Wagon Train Foot Trail is 5.8 miles long and leads to Wagon Train Road. This trail ends at Young Harris College. The walk from the parking lot to the Brasstown Bald Visitor Information Center is paved, but steep. For those willing to give it a try, the trail is a ½ mile long. For those who would prefer to view the Bald without the hike, there is a shuttle bus available. The bus is operated by a concessionaire and requires a fee.
The US Forest Service warns that some GPS units might bring you to the wrong location. This is because there is no physical address for the property. They provide longitude and latitude coordinates, as well as maps and detailed directions coming from Blairsville, GA on their website. There are many places to stay in the area, all of which might have you coming from different directions. Be sure to check directions before leaving for the Bald.
Whether you are coming to the Bald for sightseeing, educational tours, field trips, hiking or picnicking, Brasstown Bald offers something for everyone. With 360 degree views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains and city skylines, your trip will be well worth the visit.