Slideshow (mouse over to see captions):
Rabun Bald is the second highest peak in Georgia, second only to Brasstown Bald, and it offfers a 360 degree panorama at the summit from an old two story fire tower.
I’ve always wanted to do this hike, so I decided to give it a trial run today to tune up for the fall. The trail is strenuous, ascending 2178 feet from the trail head to 4649 feet at the summit in 2.9 miles. The last tenth of a mile is pretty much a vertical stair climb. The shortness of the trail allowed me to make it a day hike. The only drawback to a day hike is that picture taking occurs around high noon, so I wonder how spectacular the view would be at sunset or sunrise.
There are two primitive campsites along the trail, one near a stream about 1.5 miles into the hike. This is the only water source on the trail, and it is a very small stream with little flow, so it could dry up some during drought periods.
When I planned this hike, I was not aware that Hale Ridge Road is a gravel road. The road needs to be traveled carefully, since there are some deep ruts in many places. I wouldn’t travel this road after a major storm, since I saw evidence of a lot of downed trees and debris which would most likely block the road for a while after a storm.
The trail is a very narrow trail, and has plant growth overtaking the trail in many places. I looked for Poison Ivy, but I didn’t see any.
I owned the mountain to myself for most of the hike until I saw a group of twenty or so kids with some adults about three fourths of the way into the return hike. I feel for them, because I finished my hike just before some major hail and thunderstorms hit the area.
This trail is often rated strenuous for the vertical climb, but I would give it a moderately strenuous since the entire hike out and back can be done in about 3 1/2 to 4 hours. The most important thing would be to carry plenty of water. I didn’t see any signs of bears, but I did see a deer crossing Hale Ridge Road on the return trip.
This I think will be one of my favorite day hikes, and I plan to do it again this fall when the colors peak.