Sawnee Mountain in Cumming, Georgia
The Hal Herrin Estate in Hiawassee graciously donated the 18-acre Bell Mountain Summit to Towns County, which on Feb. 18, 2016, was formally named Bell Mountain Park and Historical Site. The observation deck was dedicated as the Hal Herrin Scenic Overlook.
This amazing view overlooks the tallest mountain in Georgia, Brasstown Bald, the small town of Hiawassee, Lake Chatuge and North Carolina.
The road to the first parking lot is very steep and winding. Once at the parking lot, a short trail leads to the summit, where a second viewing platform (at 3,424-foot elevation) overlooks Lake Chatuge. This 360-degree view of the surrounding forests, lake and mountains is an unexpected treat. Night viewing offers an amazing view of the stars.
The Native Americans called it Enotah. Today, it is known as Brasstown Bald and is Georgia’s tallest mountain at 4,784 feet above sea level. On a clear day, four states (Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and South Carolina) as well as Atlanta’s Stone Mountain can be seen. Part of the Chattahoochee National Forest, it offers stunning views of the Southern Appalachian Mountains and surrounding valleys.
Parking is available in the lower lot for those wishing to hike the trail to the Visitor Center. For a fee, shuttles to the top are offered to those not able or wishing to walk the Summit Trail.
The changing seasons on Brasstown Bald offer the opportunity to experience the wonders of nature for most of the year. In addition to a gift shop, there is a visitor center that focuses on Georgia history, geology and the natural world. Make time to watch a 15-minute movie about the incredible changes to the Brasstown landscape during the year.
Black Rock Mountain
Black Rock Mountain State Park, named for its sheer cliffs of dark-colored biotite gneiss, encompasses some of the most outstanding country in Georgia's Blue Ridge Mountains. Located astride the Eastern Continental Divide at an altitude of 3,640 feet, it is the highest elevation state park in Georgia.
This summit offers numerous scenic overlooks, providing spectacular 80-mile vistas of the Southern Appalachians. Four hiking trails are abundant with wildflowers, cascading streams, small waterfalls and lush forests offering long-range, take-your-breath-away views.
The park has 1,743 acres, a 17-acre lake, 10 cottages, 44 tent-trailer and RV sites, 12 walk-in sites, four backcountry sites, one pioneer campground, a playground and visitors center. Activities include camping, fishing, geocaching, hiking, paddling, picnicking and photographing.
A favorite attraction in Toccoa is Currahee Mountain, the last mountain of the Blue Ridge chain that rises more than 1,700 feet above sea level. According to legend, Cherokee Native Americans named the mountain Currahee (quu-wa-hi), meaning "stands alone."
During World War II, the mountain became part of a war; the U.S. Army selected Currahee as the site for its first Parachute Infantry Training Center, Camp Toccoa. The TV miniseries "Band of Brothers," reaffirmed the mountain's place in history by featuring the training site of the American paratroopers where they ran up and down Currahee. The name of the mountain became the motto for these paratroopers, including the famous mantra, "Three miles up; three miles down."
Currahee is a popular destination for rock climbing and rappelling, and is the site of the Annual “D-Day” run always the closest Saturday to June 6 and the annual Currahee Challenge in the fall. Hiking and mountain biking trail maps are available at the chamber office in Downtown Toccoa.
Located just 40 miles north of Atlanta in Cumming, Sawnee Mountain visibly links to the summit of the Blue Ridge Mountain Range, as well as the rich history of the woodland culture of North Georgia's Native American inhabitants. The mountain is named after a local Cherokee Native American, Sawnee.
Admission to Sawnee Mountain Preserve is free of charge and provides visitors with a number of amenities, including 963 acres of scenic landscape, 11 miles of wooded hiking trails and an interactive Visitor Center, which features exhibits on the natural and cultural histories of Sawnee Mountain.
Trails range from easy to difficult, taking hikers past abandoned gold mines to the Indian Seats, a natural rock formation at the top of the trail system with long-range views of the of Blue Ridge Mountains. This is a perfect location for family photographs, particularly during the fall leaf season. Interpretive signs are located along the trail for visitors to learn about the natural and cultural history of the area.
Yonah (Cherokee word for “Bear) Mountain is a mountain ridge located in the Chattahoochee National Forest between the towns of Cleveland and Helen. The mountain’s asymmetrical, iconic shape and massive, exposed rock outcrops near the summit lend to its popularity with hikers and climbers.
Its moderately strenuous 4.4-mile trail takes hikers through a rocky, wildflower-filled forest on a continuous, unrelenting upward climb to the top. Hikers must scramble over a few boulders, but it’s worth the climb, as the views are simply stunning with vistas extending into broad panoramas of the horizon. It’s an equally fantastic wildflower-spotting springtime hike, a gorgeous fall-leaf-spotting hike in autumn, and a great snow-spotting hike in winter.