The Arkaquah Trail follows a ridge line connecting Trackrock Gap Road with the Brasstown Bald Visitor Center parking lot. It is a moderate to difficult, out and back trail. As such, you can pick one of two starting points: the Brasstown Bald parking lot or one of two small turnoffs/parking areas at the Track Rock Gap Petroglyph Site. The later is the recommended staring point as it is the low point of the hike. The former often requires a modest daily fee.
From the Trackrock Gap Road trailhead, you ascend over 1,250' in the first 1.25 miles of trail through a deciduous hardwood forest on a series of switchbacks. The first peak is at 3,650' elevation, and from there the trail follows the ridge line up and down two more peaks ending at the Brasstown Bald parking lot at 4,450'. Along the way, there are multiple rock outcroppings from which one can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. The trail is 1/3 on the ridge, 1/3 on the left side of the ridge, and 1/3 on the right side, so you can go from in the sun and the in lee of the mountain to very exposed in the wind and the shade often and quickly. Therefore, be prepared for quick temperature changes and bring warm and versatile clothing.
Mostly, the trail is an un-blazed, lightly used, hiking only, single track trek through the Brasstown Wilderness Area. It varies from a long ascent to winding through, over and under rock overhangs, deep into rhododendron glades, and out onto rock outcroppings all the while with stunning views, especially after the leaves have fallen in the higher elevations.
With an extra 1.2 mile roundtrip, you can head up the paved Brasstown Bald Summit Trail to take in an inspiring 360Âº view from the highest point in Georgia at 4,784'. But if you do not like crowds, stop roughly one mile short of the parking lot at the large rock outcropping with a very clear view of the Brasstown Bald observation tower, and return to your car without visiting the high point. The view is not as grand from here, but if you prefer solitude in your hikes, this is your endpoint, or you can continue until you hit the wilderness area boundary sign before returning. If you choose to visit the observation tower (which is well worth it despite the crowds, parking lot and paved trail), the entire hike is 12.2 miles and can be completed in six to seven hours at a diligent pace with stops to take in the scenery.
Trail length: 6 miles
Posted by jb boyd on October 19, 2015
Trail System Brasstown Bald
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Reviews of Arkaquah Trail
Reviewed by jb boyd on October 19, 2015
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This is my type of hike, a slightly strenuous, varied hike with stunning views of the mountains of northern Georgia. It is a moderately used, pristine single track trail whose only downfall is the crowded endpoint of the Brasstown Bald parking lot. But by using the Trackrock Gap lot as a starting point, you can either stop short of the BB parking lot, or brave the crowds and add on a visit to the observation tower for a killer view. I would recommend bringing along a headlamp and making it an afternoon hike. As the trail is mainly an east-west orientation, you can hike back from the observation tower into the setting sun, watch the sun set over the mountains from the first/final little knob of a peak, then descend the switchbacks in the last light of day, with your headlamp just in case. But do take notice that it is colder, windier, and more exposed on the ridge line than it is down in the valley and plan accordingly.
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