Blackrock Mountain in the northeast corner of Georgia is an imposing peak that rises high above the city of Clayton, dominating the skyline. Almost 1800 acres of Blue Ridge forests are protected within the borders of the state park that bears the name of this peak, and there are many miles of hiking trails to be enjoyed there.
The mountain derives its name from a small cliff near the summit, marked by the dark color of the biotite gneiss that has resisted erosion and made a widely recognizable landmark for the locals. This cliff looks like a good candidate for a decent rock climb, but I've been told no rock climbing is allowed there.
As with so many other parts of the Southern Appalachians, the area around Blackrock Mountain is suffering from the effects of urbran sprawl and the unbridled development that is creeping into the coves and valleys and onto the high slopes. Affluent folk mainly from the Atlanta area and from Florida seem to have an unquenchable thirst for second homes here. The winters are not so harsh and the summers are cool; the landscape is striking (or it was) and there seems to be no end to the overdevelopment of the formerly wild lands in this portion of the South.
I spent three days in Blackrock Mountain State Park and found it difficult to get away from the sounds of engines of one type or another. Roads seem to be everywhere, earth-moving machines grind away everywhere one casts his gaze, and the sounds of hammers and saws churn the air. All well and good for real estate developers, but not so good for folk like me searching for some peace and quiet and solitude and a chance to see something akin to wilderness. Clayton, which was a small village located at the foot of the peak when I was a kid seems to be all but connected by a continuous ribbon of subdivisions, shopping centers, and gas stations all the way to Atlanta.
The old South is fast being covered over by pavement. See what remains while you still can. A golf course is coming soon to another wilderness area near you.
Blackrock Mountain State Park (and the mountain) are accessible from 441. If headed north, pass through the town of Clayton. Three miles north of Clayton look for the brown state park directional sign indicating Black Rock Mountain Parkway. This is an easily missed road and you must be alert not to miss it. If you do pass it, there are plenty of safe places to turn back as 441 is now a four-lane highway along this stretch.
There is a $4.00 park pass fee for day use. There are also developed campgrounds in the park of unusually high quality. Full electrical and water hookups are available for RVs at a cost of $21.00 per night. Primitive camping is also allowed in the park at a much-reduced fee of a few dollars a night. Check with the park (706-746-2141) for current fees.
Primitive camping is highly regulated within the park. Backcountry camping is allowed only at four sites.
When To ClimbAll year. Heavy snows and severe icing occur several times each winter, and the road to the summit could be blocked at such times.
The summit of Blackrock Mountain is most often climbed via the Tennessee Rock Trail that gains about 600 feet of elevation from the trailhead to the summit, and makes a 2.2 mile loop around the peak. For more of a challenge, one can hike the Emonds Trail (either the East Fork or West Fork) and catch the Tennesse Rock Trail for a one-way hike of about 8.5 miles and an elevation gain of 1,400 feet.
CampingAs mentioned above, there are developed, rustic, and back country campsites in the park. Fees range from $3 per night to $21 per night.
Mountain ConditionsCheck the weather for Clayton, Georgia. Subtract five to ten degrees for the highest peaks.