When fall makes its much-anticipated appearance in North Georgia, in-the-know leaf peepers head to one spot: Brasstown Bald near Blairsville. As the state's highest peak — 4,784 feet above sea level — Brasstown Bald is also among the first to display the season's riotous fall colors. Even in summer, you'll find the mountain a worthy escape thanks to its picturesque location amid the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest and its refreshing temperatures.
Pack your camera for the half-mile climb from the parking lot to the Brasstown Bald Visitors Center and Observation Deck, where you can soak in breathtaking, 360-degree views. On clear days, you'll see four states, even without the help of the on-site telescopes. Not-so-sunny days also offer beautiful photo ops, allowing you to peer down upon cloud tops or photograph fog-filled valleys. Be warned, however, that the hike to the top is pretty steep, so take advantage of the shuttle service if necessary.
Spend time in the visitors center to view exhibits on local culture, geology, wildlife and more. For more intense hikes, check out the three other trails accessible from the Bald, including Jacks Knob Foot Trail, which leads to the Appalachian Trail.
Nearby, take a scenic drive through the national forest via the Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway. From the byway, stop at Vogel State Park, which offers ample camping, plus fishing, hiking and lake swimming. The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest is also home to TrackRock Archaeological Area, the location of significant rock art carvings made by Creek and Cherokee inhabitants more than 1,000 years ago.
When summer's heat necessitates a cool dip, go for a float down the Nottely River in Blairsville or splash around in Lake Chatuge in Hiawassee. Or take your sweetheart for an afternoon of wine tasting at Crane Creek Vineyards in Young Harris.
In spring, summer and fall, the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds in Hiawassee offers can’t-miss entertainment, from concerts to festivals, so check the event calendar to round out your getaway’s itinerary.
The fairgrounds offer camping and RV sites, or you can reserve a room at Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa in Young Harris if you prefer a touch of luxury. This peaceful resort offers championship golf, guided horseback rides, soothing spa treatments and gourmet dining.