OverviewThis is a bushwhack, starting from a spot on the Appalachian Trail just south of the GA/NC state line. It isn't trivial, however, as the terrain is steep and the area is pretty remote for the Southern Appalachians.
There is no water on the mountain.
Getting ThereDrive to Blue Ridge Gap (4wd only) via Upper Hightower Road or Charlie's Creek Road. There's a small parking area where the road crosses the Appalachian Trail.
Head north on the AT. Hike almost to the NC state line, then turn left and start the bushwhack. Google Earth can help you find the correct ridge, and will provide the departure point and waypoint lat/long coordinates for your GPS.
RouteIt's a bushwhack. There are stretches where a vestigial game trail can be followed, but for most of the way it's hike wherever you want. The ridge gets narrow in the middle section, then widens out again at the top.
I employ the "Hansel and Gretel" technique when bushwhacking. Tie bright surveyor's ribbons on tree branches at 10 meter intervals as you ascend. Descending is easy: follow the surveyor's ribbons, gathering them as you go down. (Leave No Trace.)
Red TapeNone. US Forest Service all the way. (Chuckle, chuckle; this is not a recommendation to use 'red tape' for the Hansel and Gretel technique.)
When to ClimbBest to do this in winter or early spring. There's a many-acre blackberry patch about a half-mile from the top, and the blackberry canes can be crushed underfoot when they're dead. Lord help you if you try crossing this during summer when the canes are "alive" and flexible.
Winter also means no leaves on the trees. Not really any spectacular views, but I prefer the open vistas to hiking under a green canopy.
CampingNone. Well, no tent sites that I would consider.
Why did I do this?1) Fourth highest point in Georgia and therefore on the checklist.
2) Bushwhack = adventure every time
3) FOR MAP GEEKS: Note that the typical east-west NC/GA state line takes a 90-degree turn here to a north-south orientation. Isn't that interesting? You can easily get to this state line angle (Montgomery Corner) as it is only a few hundred meters from the Hightower Bald summit, but there is no marker -- I've been three times and searched diligently each time. GPS will get you close, say a 3 meter by 3 meter square, but it's a bit anti-climactic to see ... nothing but duff. Do a little prep work: Google the lat/long by yourself.
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