Round Top is the name given to the highpoint of Dismal Mountain. While there is nothing particularly dismal bout this peak, it’s also not particularly exciting. The summit is shrouded in relatively dense second growth forest with tiny frogs hopping all about the leaf litter and there are no views to speak of from the top. The peak is, however, well-removed from road access, giving it a somewhat isolated feel - a feeling not always easy to obtain in the mountains of the southeastern U.S.A.
What Round Top does offer, however, is a top-25 Georgia peak quite close to the Appalachian Trail. Proximity counts in a landscape where summits are most often guarded not by sheer rock fortresses, but by tangled messes of tick-infested undergrowth, peppered with snakes and poison ivy. The summit of Round Top can be reached after just a few minutes of steep going up ferny slopes after leaving the AT.
Rank: 23rd highest peak in Georgia
Prominence: 504 feet
USGS Quad: Tray Mountain
Planning Map: Appalachian Trail Conservancy | Chattahoochee National Forest | Springer Mountain to Bly Gap
Rank & Prominence: Lists of John
Round Top can be accessed from the north or the south along the Appalachian Trail.
AT Northbound (from the south)
• From Tray Gap at Rt 79, via the AT, hike roughly 5.8 miles (one way) north to, through Blue Ridge Swag, to the highpoint of the AT along the east slopes of Round Top. The rounded summit is a very short but relatively steep side-trip to the west.
• Tray Gap is accessed by taking GA 356 east from Robertstown (1 mile north of Helen) for 5 miles. Turn left at Bethel Church onto Chimney Mountain Road. Follow Chimney Mountain Road for 2 miles to FS 79 (Tray Mountain Road). High clearance is required at this point; 4x4 is recommended. Follow FS 79 north 7 miles to Tray Gap. (Note intersection of FS 698.)
AT Southbound (from the north
• From Dicks Creek Gap, via the AT, hike approximately 6.4 miles (one-way) to highpoint of the AT along the eastern slopes of Round Top. The rounded summit is a very short but relatively steep side-trip to the west.
• Dicks Creek Gap is reached via paved US 76 east of the town of Hiawassee.
There is no fee to visit this part of the Nantahala National Forest and permits are not required for overnight stays in the backcountry. Please be mindful of posted Forest Service user warnings, such as “problem bear” alerts and campfire bans. Note that the Appalachian Trail is open to foot traffic only. Motorized vehicles and pack animals are not permitted. Please practice Leave No Trace principals:
1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
3. Dispose of Waste Properly
4. Leave What You Find
5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
6. Respect Wildlife
Tent Camping Only
Sassafras Gap, just down the hill northbound on the AT, has level spots for a few tents and a spring. There are no bear cables; you must do your own critter hangs.
Deep Gap Shelter | AT Northbound
3 miles north of Round Top on the AT
Tray Mountain Shelter | AT Southbound
4.6 miles south of Round Top on the AT