Brasstown Bald, Georgia's highest mountain, is set in a national forest with an observation tower atop its 4,784-foot summit. Here you'll have a 360-degree view across ridges into four different states. After parking, you can walk up the half-mile paved road or else take a bus to the top. There is no steeper half-mile walk in all of Georgia! At the top you can see a video explaining the legend and lore of the mountain. There's access to four hiking trails, ranging from .5 to 6 miles in length, and picnic tables are available. The surrounding area is home to a wide variety of plants and animals.
The park is open May to mid-November Monday to Friday 10am to 6pm, and Saturday and Sunday 10am to 5pm. In April, it is open only Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $3 for parking. The bus ride to the top and back costs $2 for all ages. For more information, write Brasstown Ranger District, 1881 Hwy. 515, Blairsville, GA 30512 (tel. 706/745-6928; fax 706/745-7494). There is also the Visitor Information Center at the park (tel. 706/896-2555) that is open daily 10am to 5pm.
To reach the mountain from Blairsville, take U.S. 19/129 South for 8 miles. Turn left or east onto Ga. 180 and go 12 miles to Ga. 180 Spur, where you turn left, or north. Another 3 miles leads to the Brasstown Bald parking lot.
Vogel State Park is Georgia's second-oldest state park and one of its most frequented. In the heart of the North Georgia mountains at the foot of Blood and Slaughter mountains, it sprawls across 240 acres cut through with nature trails. It has a 22-acre lake, Lake Trahlyta, named for a Cherokee princess. You can swim (there's a bathhouse) or fish for bass, trout, and bream. The park hosts festivals, like Old Timer's Day in August.
Campsites are available with power and water hookups, hot showers, and laundry facilities. A tent costs $12 to $25. Cottages, 35 in all, are comfortably furnished and have wood-burning fireplaces. Prices range from $85 to $130.
At an elevation of 2,500 feet, park temperatures are cool, even in July and August. The park is open year-round daily from 7am to 8pm. It's 11 miles from Blairsville on U.S. 19/129. For more information, write Vogel State Park, 7485 Vogel State Park Rd., Blairsville, GA 30512 (tel. 706/745-2628; fax 706/745-3139; www.gastateparks.org/info/vogel).
Richard Russell Scenic Highway is south of Blairsville, via U.S. 19/129, and east on Ga. 180. This 14-mile scenic mountain drive, with elevations ranging from 1,600 to 3,000 feet, offers panoramic views at every turn. The drive is especially popular in fall, when hardwoods blaze with colors. At the 3,500-foot Tesnatee Gap, the highway crosses the Appalachian Trail. The road crosses the Blue Ridge and forms the northern perimeter of the eastern half of Raven Cliffs Wilderness.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.