I hiked to the summit of Brasstown Bald, the Highpoint of Georgia at 4784 feet, on Tuesday, May 25th, 2004. It was my 21st state highpoint.
I drove from my timeshare condo at the Sky Valley Resort, in Dillard, GA, where I was staying for the week. It was a clear and sunny day but was 85 very humid degrees. According to an old Marine Corps buddy, who lives in Florida but has a cabin in the area, this was record warm weather and not normal in these mountains, especially for this early in the year. I decided to hike to the summit on Jacks Knob Trail, which is Alternate Route #2, as described in Don Holmes guidebook Highpoints of the United States. Don lists this trail as being 5.6 miles round trip. Im not sure if that distance is all the way to the summit or just to the point where the trail ends at the big parking lot. It seemed a lot longer than 5.6 miles to me. That might have been because the trail was very steep in some areas and the humidity was kicking my butt. It was close to an additional mile each way to and from the summit from where Jacks Knob Trail ends at the south end of the Brasstown Bald parking area. I also parked my car at the very bottom of the road leading up to the parking area. I parked right at the northwest corner of the intersection of SR 180, which pretty much runs east and west, and the 180 spur, which runs in a northerly direction toward Brasstown Bald. The parking areas farther up the road, where Don Holmes suggested parking, were all full. Parking where I did probably added an extra ½ mile to my hike.
During the first mile of my ascent to the summit I encountered several large groups of hikers. That explained why the trailhead parking area was so full. I dont know if they hiked all the way to the summit or not. They didnt look very tired and were not carrying backpacks so I kind of doubt it. I did not see any other hikers along the trail after that and the Brasstown Bald parking area at the top of the trail was nearly empty. The gift shop near the bottom of the ½ mile paved trail to the summit and the visitors center at the summit were open although I dont think I saw more than a dozen people while I was there. I spent about 45 minutes at the summit, watching the movie about Brasstown Bald and eating my lunch, before beginning my descent back to my car.
This was the most elaborate and well-maintained visitors center, and observation tower, of any highpoint I have visited, although it does somewhat take away from the naturalness of the area. Overall I would have to say that Georgia gets my vote for taking the most pride, and putting the most effort into their highpoint, but I dont think Id want to be there on a crowded weekend day in the summer, especially if there is some sort of festivities going on at the time.
On my way back to my condo in Dillard I stopped at the Taco Bell in Clayton, GA. After I finished eating I found that one of my tires was flat. I was still pretty exhausted from my hike and wasnt in the mood for this but had to deal with it anyway. After changing my tire I treated myself to a large Chocolate Extreme Blizzard, with chocolate ice cream, at the Dairy Queen across the street. I visited that Diary Queen several times during my stay in nearby Dillard. I asked a couple local guys if they knew of any Goodyear Tire dealers in the area. One of them recommended a place a few miles north of Dillard, on US 23, just across the state line in North Carolina. The following day I took my tire to Greg's Tire & Service Center in Otto, NC. My tire had a 6 inch steel rod in it, that I must have gotten where I parked at Brasstown Bald, or in one of the gravel roads I turned around on. I was surprised that I was able to drive all the way from Brasstown Bald to Clayton on the mountain roads. The tire had to be replaced. They didnt carry Goodyear tires but were very nice and ordered one for me. They said it would take a day or two to get it in. I didnt want to drive anywhere with the mini spare tire that was on my car, so for the next couple days I hung around my resort working out in the weight room, jogging the hills and reading my book, which wasnt so bad. The two brothers that owned Greg's Tire & Service Center were very friendly and helpful, and after the mechanic that installed my tire saw the Marine Corps sticker on my car he treated me like a King. I really appreciated the southern hospitality extended to a visiting Yankee from northern Illinois and would highly recommend Gregs to anyone having car troubles while visiting this area.