Brasstown Bald and the Brasstown Wilderness

At 4,784 feet, Brasstown Bald is Georgia's highest mountain. From the observation tower on its summit, there are breathtaking 360 degree panoramic views of four states. On a clear day it is possible to see as far south as Atlanta.

In 1986, Congress designated 11,405 acres within the Chattahoochee National Forest as the Brasstown Wilderness. The bald itself which is only about three-quarters of an acre is not within the Brasstown Wilderness area. Brasstown Bald is unique in that it serves as the southernmost habitat for many northern plant and animal species, including the red-back vole. A northern hardwood "cloud forest" of huge, old birches covers the north face. Rhododendron and mountain laurel are among the few shrubs that can survive in this soil at such high altitudes. Spring is an outstanding display of wildflowers in the north-facing coves and down the east side of Wolfpen. The fall offers spectacular seasonal foliage colors. Because of its height, Brasstown Bald often gets much harsher weather than do the surrounding valleys. Strong wind, rain and lower temperatures are not uncommon.

Brasstown Bald was so named because of confusion between the Cherokee words "itse-yi," meaning "new green place," and "untsaiyi," meaning "brass."

Cherokee legend of bald mountains told of a terrible, winged beast with sharp talons which abducted and ate Indian children. After clearing the forest, the Cherokees prayed mightily to their Great Spirit who destroyed the beast, restored the children and has kept the balds clear of trees to this day.

A steep, paved, half mile trail leads to the summit and the Visitor Center. The center offers interpretive programs, including the exhibit "Man and the Mountain," tracing human and natural history of the Southern Appalachian region. The Mountaintop Theatre features continuous video programs.

There are four hiking trails starting from the parking area: Arkaquah Trail; Jack's Knob Trail; Arkaquah Trail #2, and the Wagon Train Trail.

Brasstown Bald is open daily from Memorial Day through October and on weekends in early spring and late fall (weather permitting). Brasstown Bald Visitor Information Center 706-896-2556.

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