At an elevation of 4,696 feet,Rabun Bald is the tallest mountain in Rabun County and the second-highest peak in Georgia. An observation tower on the summit provides hikers with views that extend for more than 100 miles. According to Native American legend, Rabun Bald is inhabited by fire-breathing demon people: some campers still report hearing strange sounds throughout the night.
Birds of prey circle in thermal uplifts in the seemingly endless valleys below. The rolling southern Appalachian Mountains, weathered by time, surround the summit, creating an endless panoramic view that’s stunning no matter where you turn. A hike on the Bartram Trail to Rabun Bald offers a generous dose of serenity and a gorgeous dose of natural beauty from a soaring summit, the second highest in Georgia.
Georgia’s loftiest peak, Brasstown Bald, offers equally stunning, see-forever views. But unlike Rabun Bald, there’s paved access to Brasstown’s summit. While Rabun Bald is often quiet and serene, Brasstown Bald is often crowded by visitors by the buss-load (literally). Access to Rabun Bald requires a bit more effort – but the payoff seems so much sweeter, the views just a bit better given the hike to reach the summit.
The hike departs a quiet, upscale neighborhood near the end of a gravel road (view maps and driving directions). The hike veers left to follow a green-blazed trail, an access trail to the nearby Bartram Trail. (A gravel road veers to the right; take the trail to the left.) The trail immediately grabs elevation, beginning to climb Rabun Bald’s lower elevations through a forest dense with rhododendron and mountain laurel.