4 miles R.T.
Several "seeps" for the last 1/2 mile
Don't block driveways or roads at the trail-head.
4696 feet, Rabun Bald is second highest point in Georgia. The 14,000-acre
"preserve" is located on a ridge-top within a few miles
of the Georgia - North Carolina border. Surrounded on all sides
by the vacation homes of the well heeled, Rabun Bald truly is an
oasis for the eyes.
parking area at Beegum Gap, the trailhead, can get crowded and muddy.
It is unmarked but it is also on a dead end street. Please be careful
not to block anyone's private driveway when parking. Facing the
trailhead there are two paths to follow. The path on the right is
a road and the path on the left is a rocky trail. Take the rocky
trail on the left to begin this loop hike. The trail climbs from
the parking area quickly plunging you into a pine hardwood forest.
The grade is a constant uphill climb and is without any flat spots.
This leg of the trip takes you through a quiet pine forest for approximately
3/4 of a mile. It may seem longer because of the uphill climb. The
forest here consists of oaks, pine trees and scattered rhododendron.
a 15 to 20 minute walk the unblazed trail
junctions with the yellow blazed Bartram Trail. Turn north (right)
and follow the trail for another 3/4 of a mile or a 20-minute walk.
The winter views through the barren trees are of the rolling Georgia
Mountains. The trail here is named in honor of William Bartram,
the 18th century botanist that explored this area in search of new
and un-cataloged plants.
the Bartram Trail for another 15 minutes to a trail junction
with the road that you left at the parking lot. At this gap, a sign
points the way (north) to Rabun Bald. The trail sign has been rather
defaced with some graffiti and the exact mileage is difficult to
read, but it is 0.5 miles. At this point in the trail is a nice
area where there is a fire ring, surrounded by some large rocks.
It can make a good point to rest and catch a drink of water before
your final ascent to the top.
begins the final climb to the summit and observation tower. For
the remaining one half mile the trail becomes damp and is lined
rhododendron and blueberry bushes. The appearance of blueberry bushes
and mountain ash indicates that you are now above 4000 feet in elevation.
The trees are weather beaten and covered with moss. Most are below
20 feet in height. As you approach the summit, the trail becomes
bathed in sunlight and you can see clearing ahead of you . All at
once you come out into the open at the base of the observation tower,
where there are flat stone markers engraved with trail directions.
One points the way for the Bartram Trail, should you want to continue
quick climb up the stairway to the observation tower opens a 360
º panorama of rolling mountains. Particularly at the height of the
fall colors, we can imagine this would be simply breathtaking! The
tower platform is conveniently lined with benches so you can take
photos, eat your lunch, or simply relax and drink in the views.
the return trip back track down the trail to the trail junction
½ mile below the summit. Take the left trail (old road) for a different
view on the trip back. This short walk down give you views of the
ridge line and the vacation homes below. If the sight of million
dollar vacation homes disturbs you as you walk through the wilderness,
then you might want to consider backtracking down the trails that
you took to the summit.
just 15 miles from Franklin North Carolina and a short drive from
Rt. 441. Take 441 south from Franklin to the Georgia border. Keep
your eyes open for Ga.State Rd. 246. Turn left here and travel 4
miles to mud dude rd in the village of Sky Valley. Turn right on
mud rd. travel 2 miles past vacation homes. On the right you will
see a brown and yellow Forest Service sign that says "hiking
trail". In small letters below that you will see Rabun Bald.
Turn right on this road and follow it one tenth of a mile to the
end. The trail head is at the end of the road.
The land surrounding Rabun Bald is owned and administered by the
US Forest Service. Camping is not prohibited but the standard rules
apply. The yellow blazed Bartram Trail follows the ridge tops and
camping is permitted along the trail. A designated camping area
complete with water and graded spots for tents is further north
approximately 4 miles.
Click on this link to view the current weather in this area:
Complete Georgia Trail Information (96 trails with maps):
map of the Georgia segment of the Bartram Trail:
National Forest map
maps for the seven sections of the North Carolina segment of
the Bartram Trail:
guidebooks for the Bartram Trail here:
See a view from Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia: http://www.fs.fed.us/conf/webcam.htm
If you need food, gear of maps Three Eagles Outfitters is located
on 441 bypass in Franklin. They offer a complete selection of gear
and accessories. (828) 524-4453