A visit to the mountains of North Georgia would be incomplete without a visit to highest point in the state! At 4,784 feet above sea level Brasstown Bald takes that distinction. Within easy driving distance from other well known vacation areas in North Georgia, Brasstown Bald is a great family destination. A museum, shuttle service, hiking trails, and beautiful views are among the many offerings provided at this family oriented attraction.
Our Family Trip to Brasstown Bald
We decided that as native Georgians we had to visit the highest point in our state, at the very least. We drove over during our stay at Black Rock Mountain State Park, about an hour’s drive. We parked in the main parking lot which is quite a bit below the summit area, where the museum is located. There we paid our $5 fee and received some stickers for our troubles. We were offered to wait on the shuttle van to carry us up the road to the summit, which is closed to visitor traffic, or we could walk the trail to the top. Once we realized that the trail was just over half a mile (.6 miles), we chose the adventurous route and started off on foot. The climb was simple enough but a small challenge. I remember the path being paved for most of the way so it is less than rugged. The kids loved exploring and we took our time so it was quite a nice little hike. When we got to the top it was spectacular!
A Fun Family Activity
At the Summit, there are many ways you can spend your time. Brasstown Bald sits on National Forest land and the property was operated by the US Forest Service until recent years. As such there is a forestry museum that lays out how Forest Rangers would man Brasstown Bald as fire lookouts and the various historical aspects of the site. It is very informative and a lot of fun for the kids. There is also a theater that plays a short video about the area. Of course you must head to the very top of the museum, to the pinnacle. Marked by, you guessed it, a brass cover marking the peak. Take lots of pictures and walk around. From the observation platform you can see Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and of course, the Georgia mountains. When you are done, relax in the rocking chairs provided. Rest your legs as you wait for the shuttle or anticipate the walk back down the trail.
Things to know about Brasstown Bald
Picnic Tables were provided at the Summit and the lower visitor center. Food options are not in abundance so pack a lunch.
Brasstown is nearby several North Georgia Family Vacation towns such as Helen, Blairsville, and Hiawassee. Clayton, Georgia is also an hour away.
There are 5 Georgia State Parks within an hour of Brasstown Bald. All of which are perfect for camping. Vogel State Park, Unicoi State Park, Mocassin Creek State Park, Black Rock Mountain State Park, and Tallulah Gorge State Park.
Dogs are allowed, but must be on a leash.
The lower visitor center has a fun gift shop and general store. Light snacks and drinks can be purchased there.
Anna Ruby Falls, a world famous waterfall is also nearby. Another great place to visit. Check out the youtube videos below.
If you live anywhere close to Atlanta, you must make at least one pilgrimage to Stone Mountain!
This place has so many things to do! There are several hiking trails, laser shows, ropes and climbing courses, camping, boating, golf, train rides, and playgrounds. There are several festivals and holiday events at Stone Mountain, most notably the 4th of July laser show.
There is a $20 per vehicle parking charge but that covers a lot for your family. The playgrounds, hiking trails, and access to the summit of the mountain. On days that there are laser shows, there are no additional fees for the event.
It was a very cool day in April that we visited. At ground level we explored the playground, the Washington King Covered bridge, and the Nature Garden Trail. Eventually, we worked our way over to the aerial tram.
Since we had a little one we kept the hiking short and rode the Summit Skyride to the top of Stone Mountain, mostly for the experience. Children 3 and under are free so we didn’t have to pay for our youngest! This was the only excursion we splurged on but thought it was a great ride for the kids and saved us a long hike.
At the summit it was windy and cool, but we had great views of the Atlanta skyline and the surrounding landscape. A sight to behold for sure! The summit is available to explore at your leisure. You can hike up from below on a mile long trail or you can hike down to the bottom after riding the Skyride up. We rode it both ways.
Things to know
Bring at least a light jacket. Even when the weather is fine at the base of the mountain, with elevation gain you might be chilly at the top.
A small store at the pinnacle has all sorts of treats but you can also bring snacks to enjoy on the summit.
Bring sunglasses. As you see in the picture above, the kids wish we would have.
Extra excursions and attractions do have a charge at Stone Mountain but you can buy package deals if you have a good idea of what you want to do.
Stone Mountain is great for jogging or trail running.
Educational opportunities are everywhere here. Dig into the Dinotopia attraction or the Quarry Exhibit.
Plan for a whole day here, or even several. A long vacation can be enjoyed without ever leaving the property!
In the winter the place becomes Snow Mountain, with several winter attractions like snow tubing!
Ok, so this amazing place is not actually in Georgia. After all this is Georgia Family Adventures, right? Well we do have some wonderful family activities in the five states that border Georgia and in time I will bring you those stories. This waterfall, ironically named Dry Falls, is just across the Georgia border above the extreme Northeastern tip of the state, in Highlands, North Carolina.
The falls were gushing due to heavy rains in the area the previous night. The cool thing about this waterfall is that you can walk behind the water. As thousand of gallons of water roar above your head, you can stay dry and snap the photo of a lifetime. It reminds me of that scene from :Last of the Mohicans”. Watch that movie if you have never seen it. See for yourself how awe inspiring this experience was for our family.
What you need to know before going to Dry Falls and Highlands
Dry Falls is on US Forest Service land and there is a $3 per vehicle fee. The parking area is roomy but can fill up quick. There are bathrooms in the parking lot as well. There are stairs and they can be icy in the Winter months.
The falls are about 10 minutes East of Highlands on Highway 64. Highlands lies at 4100 ft above sea level high up in the Appalachian foothills and all the roads to it go up. They are winding and roads with some good climbs. However, it seems that there are gorgeous overlooks about every other mile and pull-offs for you to get out and take a picture. Highlands is a very nice town with plenty of B & B’s, classy restaurants, and boutique shops. We did not stay there but we have visited a few times over the years. A place we recommend for a lunch stop is just South of Highlands in Scaly Mountain. The restaurant is named The Mountain Junction Cafe. The carrot cake came in huge slices and was amazing! The place has some great character too.
This would make a perfect day trip for anyone camping or vacationing at nearby locations such as Tallulah Gorge State Park, Moccasin Creek State Park, Black Rock Mountain State Park, or Franklin, North Carolina. Check out these neat pictures we were able to get.
Two for one bonus! There are several Highlands waterfalls! On the way to Dry Falls you will drive right by and possibly under, Bridal Veil Falls, right off Highway 64. The Forest Service will sometimes block it off if it is icy or rocks have been falling, so do be careful. Usually the road leading behind this waterfall is open and you can take some cool photos, like we did.
The Okefenokee Swamp is an incredible natural wonder in the Southeastern corner of Georgia, near Waycross. This 400,000 acre Swamp is home to one of the most diverse ecosystems in the word. The biggest attractions are the Alligators and various snakes that call it home. On the northern corner of the refuge is the Okefenokee Swamp Park. Your destination for a safe and amazing adventure!
What To See and Do
This is the place that you are guaranteed an interesting and very accessible peek into the great Okefenokee Swamp. Here is where you can see all the natural aesthetics of the Swamp but in a manner that doesn’t involve long hikes or boat rentals. Alligators can be found sunning themselves in ponds near the entrance and swimming the canals near the train depot. It is rare for them to approach visitors as they prefer to not let anyone come close to them. Alligators, Snakes, and Black Bears are all on exhibit at the Swamp Park, conveniently behind enclosures. Tours are offered by the park in flat bottom tour boats or by a small but effective train ride. Ticket packages can be bought that include your preferred means of travel. There is a small snack bar for beverages and eats. However, the nearest restaurant is in Waycross, Georgia, a 10 minute drive. Folkston, Georgia is about 20 minutes South on HWY 1. The Okefenokee Swamp Park also displays the history of the Swamp and it’s settlers very well. The gift shop was stocked aplenty and had all kinds of fun souvenirs. The park’s price of admission is reasonable but added up quick for our family of six. Save money by taking a family member from a neighboring county! Local residents get a decent discount with some kind of proof of address. Have them buy your tickets and take the savings. Weekends are busier and look out for the hotter months of June, July, and August.
Where To Stay
Waycross, Georgia has many good hotels within about a 15 minute drive of the Swamp Park. My recommendation is that you look into the cabins at Laura S. Walker State Park. We have stayed in them and they are very clean and comfortable. The park also offers camping with a few sites along the waterfront at Laura Walker Lake, as well as several full hookup campsites, but those sites book up very fast. Laura S. Walker has a dog park, playgrounds, an 18 hole golf course, as well as paddle boat and kayak rentals.
Christmas at The Swamp Park
Okefenokee Swamp Park is great to visit around Christmas time as well. They deck the place out with Christmas lights everywhere! Santa is there to hang out with and the train takes you on a Polar Express kind of ride, with, you guessed it! More lights! It can be quite cool in the Winter, even in South Georgia. As such there is usually a large fire burning in a very neatly built fire pit and hot cocoa available at the snack bar. Do not miss this fun and enjoyable Christmas activity! Availability for this event runs through most of December. Christmas is always an adventure at the Okefenokee Swamp Park!