On the Road
WHAT: Brasstown Bald
THE RIDE: 2.5 hours, about 115 miles from Covington; use low gear on the steep drive up the mountain
WHAT TO EXPECT: Highest peak in Georgia is a cool summer getaway; hiking, interpretive center, scenic views into four states, bird watching, mountain laurel and rhododendron
HOURS: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
COST: Hike from parking lot is steep but free; for less adventurous, shuttle is offered and costs $3 per adult; Forest Service day-use area fees are $3 for a motorcycle, $4 for a car, $10 for a large van and $30 for a commercial bus
LEARN MORE: See the National Forest Service website, or call the Brasstown Bald Visitor Information Center at (706) 896-2556
Even better, you can take an excursion and check out the peak for yourself. It's less than a three-hour drive from Newton County and well worth a day trip.
You may want to pack a sweater, even on a sweltering June day. The temperature atop the 4,784-foot-high peak is usually about 10 to 15 degrees cooler than what you're used to in Covington.
The visitors center has an interesting interpretive museum where you can learn about forest conservation and a bit of north Georgia history.
Just the scenery is enough to cool you off. On one of those rare summer days when there's no haze, you can get a view into South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee. There are signs along the rail that tell you what you're looking at.
The drive is steep up the mountain, so you need to use a lower gear. You can't drive all the way to the top, though: There's a parking lot where you can either board a shuttle or climb the remainder of the way on your own foot-power.
The pathway is paved and just .6-mile, but it's no leisurely walk in the woods. If you're used to climbing the moderate hillocks around Covington, you may be a bit out of breath by the time you reach the visitors center by foot.
But it's worth the effort. Just sit back atop the world and enjoy the cool view.