Sunday, May 28, 2017, Wagon Train Trail, Brasstown Bald, Towns & Union Counties

Posted under: North Georgia .

Meet: 10:00 AM in the parking lot on top of Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s highest mountain.

Description: The Wagon Train Trail is a much easier trail than the Arkaquah Trail, following the bed of an old wagon road. The trail winds down the north side of Brasstown Bald starting in a cloud forest habitat.  As we descend, we’ll pass rock cuts literally dripping moss, saxifrage, and lichens.  We should see three or four species of trillium, particularly Vasey’s trillium (Trillium vaseyi).  Pink lady’s slippers (Cypripedium acaule) are possible, as well as Cumberland rhododendron (Rhododendron bakeri), Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense) and Appalachian bluet (Houstonia serpyllifolia).  As always, we will search rock outcrops for rock harlequin (Capnoides sempervirens).

Directions: Take US 19 south from Blairsville for 8 miles, then turn left onto GA 180 for another 8 miles. At the sign for Brasstown Bald, turn left onto GA 180 Spur and follow it up to the parking area. We’ll meet near the fee collection booth. From the south, take GA 60/US 19 north from Dahlonega.  Eventually US 19 veers to the right at Stonepile Gap; stay on US 19 headed north.  You’ll turn left at Turner’s Corner as you cross the Chestatee River, and eventually cross Neel’s Gap.  After passing Vogel State Park, start looking for GA 180 to the right and take it.  The road to Brasstown Bald, GA 180 Spur, will be 8 miles on the left.

Parking: Brasstown Bald is a National Forest Recreation Area, so a parking fee is required. Please pay at the entrance booth.

Facilities: At meeting place only, strategically placed trees on hike.

Walking: The Wagon Train Trail is fairly easy on the way down.  Coming back up is only moderately strenuous.  This trail was originally graded for wagons, so it is much easier than the Arkaquah Trail.  Still, this is a high mountain trail with a rocky tread and hikers should be reasonably fit.  We’ll walk about 5 miles, half of it uphill.

Bring: Bring to eat at some point along the trail.  We’ll try to pick a suitably lovely spot. The weather can be considerably cooler on top of Brasstown, dress appropriately.

Leaders: Hal Massie, 478-957-6095 (cells will be on the morning of the hike, reception may be poor); Rich Reaves, 770-827-5186