The highest point in Georgia at 4,784 feet, Brasstown Bald is famous for its views of fall foliage, but the 360-degree scenery leaves visitors summer through fall. Hike a steep half mile from the parking lot to the top of the mountain, where there’s an observation deck and visitors center. Three other hiking trails (up to 6 miles long) cross the mountain. Take a light jacket: Even in the August heat, the mountaintop can be breezy.
Brasstown Bald is near Blairsville and convenient to other scenic displays in northeast Georgia. Drive through the Chattahoochee National Forest via theRussell-Brasstown Scenic Byway and then head to Vogel State Park (excellent hiking and camping near Blood Mountain). You can see American Indian petroglyphs nearby at the Track Rock Archaeological Area. These ancient doodles cover six soapstone boulders in the 52-acre area; their origin is still a mystery.
Cool off from the summer heat on a tubing trip on the Nottely River, where a leisurely float is punctuated by rope swings and wildlife sightings. You can also fish there – the water is clean and the fish are plentiful. Relax and play a couple of rounds at Butternut Creek Golf Course, an 18-hole course surrounded by Blue Ridge scenery. In town, there’s a museum housed in the old Union County Courthouse, where you’ll see relics of centuries past – antique tools and medical equipment, and American Indian pottery, for example – in a striking 1899 building.
The mountain retreat Brasstown Valley Resort and Spa has a lodge and eight log cottages; some rooms have fireplaces, balconies and mountain views. Spend your days in the resort’s spa, on its golf course or maybe even riding horses from the stables. Blairsville has other cabins and cottages to choose from, such as Paradise Cabins (many have hot tubs) or the Misty Mountain Inn & Cottages (pet-friendly).
If you stay at Brasstown Valley, make a side trip north to Crane Creek Vineyards, a Blue Ridge Mountains vineyard whose goal is to produce wines that reflect the vineyard and climate rather than the winemaking process. Taste crisp whites and complex reds there while you enjoy warm, dry summer weather
Another side trip is east to Hiawassee, the “Mountain Top Georgia” home of beautiful Lake Chatuge and the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds. The fairground hosts events year-round and features a blooming rhododendron garden and the Anderson Music Hall, as well as two seasonal crowd-pleasing festivals.