Brasstown Bald via the Arkaquah Trail Brasstown Wilderness, GA
miles
LENGTH 11.8 MILES
DIFFICULTY 28.4 Hard
DURATION 5-7 hours
ELEVATION GAIN
3960
feet
TRAIL TYPE
There And
Back Again
Brasstown Bald via the Arkaquah Trail

March 24, 2020 - Due to the current Coronavirus pandemic, many parks and hiking trails are closed. It is advised that you do not travel to hike. Many trails have been swarmed with visitors which only helps spread the virus. Stay safe people.

Combo hike the Arkaquah Trail and the paved summit trail to the observation deck at the top of Brasstown Bald for amazing 360-degree views from Georgia's highest mountain. The most challenging route to Brasstown Bald and one of Georgia's most difficult day hikes, the Arkaquah Trail is a great way to test your trail legs.

Begin at the small parking lot at Track Rock Gap. You could also begin at the Brasstown Bald parking lot but then you're not really hiking toward anything and you save all the difficult bits for the return journey. Take the short side trail up the steps to the petroglyph site if you want to decipher native stone carvings. Afterward, begin the hike from the parking lot, crossing the road and turning left. Hike up the road for about 100 feet. You should see the signed trail easily.

The trail ascends quickly to Buzzard Roost Ridge over the first 1.5 miles, gaining 1300 feet in elevation. Walking along the knife-edge ridge, you'll have winter views on both sides and still get a few views in summer. Drop down steeply to a gap, then back up and down again to a second gap. From here, the rest of the way is mostly uphill.

While there are plenty of trees down that are easy to get over, under, or around, you will have a challenging time at mile 3.1. A large section of the trail is completely obscured by blow-downs. Heading under a large tree, look up to the right and you'll see an orange ribbon indicating where the trail picks back up. This can be quite challenging if it's rained and is muddy. Trekking poles will help immensely especially on the way back down.

Soon afterward, a side trail on the left leads to the best view along the trail outside of the summit of Brasstown Bald. You'll get some winter views from near the summit of Chimneytop Mountain before reaching the Brasstown Bald parking lot at 5.3 miles. This is where the Arkaquah Trail ends. Between the restrooms and the general store you'll see the paved path for the Summit Trail. This will take you the rest of the way.

You're not done yet, the Summit Trail is still quite steep as it ascends more than 400 feet in just over half a mile. The large Visitor Center at the summit has many information displays as well as restrooms and the Mountain Top Theater shows a short film about the area. Take the stairs behind the theater to the expansive observation deck. Unfortunately you can't climb up the fire tower as it is not open to the public, but you'll still get amazing views in all directions.

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Elevation Map Length (miles) by Elevation (feet)
Slope Breakdown
Elevation Gain
Elevation Range
Grade Range
Length
Elevation Gain
0 - 250 ft/mi
~ 0 - 5 %
1 mi
132 ft
250 - 500 ft/mi
~ 5 - 10 %
1.2 mi
458 ft
500 - 750 ft/mi
~ 10 - 15 %
1.3 mi
810 ft
750 - 1000 ft/mi
~ 15 - 20 %
1.2 mi
1037 ft
1000+ ft/mi
~ 20+ %
1.2 mi
1557 ft
For out-and-back hikes, elevation loss is the same as the gain.
Terrain Map Click to control map
Navigation
0.0 mi
0.0 mi - Trailhead Cross the road and turn left for about 100 ft to start the Arkaquah Trail.
0.02 mi
0.02 mi - Arkaquah Trail The trail leaves the road.
1.63 mi
1.63 mi - Views Views along Buzzard Roost Ridge. Better in winter.
3.11 mi
3.11 mi - Blow-down Obstructions After going under a large tree, blow-downs completely obstruct the trail. Look up the hill to the right and you'll see an orange ribbon indicating where you can pick up the trail.
3.56 mi
3.56 mi - Side Trail to View on Left Short side trail up to a view on the left.
3.79 mi
3.79 mi - Large Rock Overhang Small campsite under a large rock overhang. The trail continues through a gap in the rocks on the right.
3.94 mi
3.94 mi - Chimneytop View Large bare rock that gives you winter views of Brasstown Bald in the distance.
5.28 mi
5.28 mi - Brasstown Bald Parking Lot The Arkaquah Trail ends at the Brasstown Bald parking lot. Take the summit trail between the restrooms and the general store.
5.39 mi
5.39 mi - Wagon Train Trail on Right Continue on the paved summit trail straight.
5.76 mi
5.76 mi - Cross Road The paved trail crosses the road the shuttles use.
5.88 mi
5.88 mi - Brasstown Bald Summit Summit, visitor center and observation deck.
Details
length11.8 miles
difficulty28.4 Hard
duration5 - 7 hours
features Dog Friendly  History  Summit  Views 
trail typeThere And Back Again
blazeGreen (at beginning and end only)
elevation gain3960 ft.
state Georgia 
park/forestBrasstown Wilderness
Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest
ranger districtBlue Ridge Ranger District
2042 Highway 515 West
Blairsville, GA 30512
706-745-6928
parking feeNone
trailhead coordinates 34.88204, -83.87795 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 34°52.92, W 83°52.68 (Degree Minutes, MinDec)
N 34°52'55'', N 34°52'55'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)
Trailhead Directions
34.88204, -83.87795 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 34°52.92, W 83°52.68 most GPS units use this one
N 34°52'55'', N 34°52'55'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)
Google Map It
The coordinates are for the Track Rock Gap parking area. The Arkaquah Trail begins across the road about 100 ft to the left.
Parking Capacity
4-6 vehicles.
Notes
Check out the Track Rock Gap Petroglyph Site down the short trail from the parking lot before heading out.
Lots of downed trees. All but one section you can go around, under or over easily enough. When you hit the large blow-down section, look straight up the hill to the right for the orange ribbon marking the continuation of the trail. This will be a steep muddy climb so trekking poles are recommended.
There are several narrow sections along steep drop-offs.
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Reviews / Comments
Average Review Rating
5 (1)
hikethesouth-3 months ago
Hard But Worth It
This was a difficult hike but the views along the way and at the top are worth it. It would definitely be less worth it if there were a ton of people at the top who all took the shuttle up but if you go on a cold day or during the week there shouldn't be more than a few. Better views along the way in winter. If you can drop a car off at both ends this also makes for a good point to point and you don't have to worry about the back half making it significantly easier.
Hard | Hiked Winter 2019
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