December 18th, 2011. After some cool weather, the days were pleasantly warm and we took a trip through north Georgia, just to see what we could see. We began in Helen in Hall County and drove north on GA-348, known either as the Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway or the Russell Brasstown Scenic Byway. At the south end, the highway forms the eastern border of the Raven Cliffs Wilderness.
The road, in the Raven Cliffs area gives vistas to the east.
Water seeps down the rock wall created when the highway was built. A small patch of icicles that resulted from the cold weather a few days earlier.
Further north, we started to see rhododendrons on the hillside below the pines
The Appalachian Trail crosses the highway at Hog Pen Gap
Further north, more roadside cuttings with icicles. These cuttings remain in the shade so the icicles persisted even when the temperatures rose into the 60s F.
And vistas to the north
At the end of GA-348, the scenic highway continues northeast on GA-180. We took a short side trip along Forest Service Road 292. This is a gravel road that wound around the hillside. At one point, the road crosses Bob Creek. There is a wide, inviting ledge on the north side of the creek. A local man told us this had been an Indian camp. It was easy to imagine this as a pleasant summer camp in the hot Georgia summer.
Looking upstream along the creek. Part of the ledge is visible to the left.
We saw more banks of Fan Clubmoss (Lycopodium digitatum)
Some had fruited.
We continued on and decided to drive up Brasstown Bald which is the highest point in Georgia. The area was inhabited by the Cherokee Indians who called the mountain Enotah. Early settlers confused the Cherokee word itse-yi ("Place of fresh green") with untsaiyi ("brass") and called the mountain Brasstown Bald. A bald implies a 360-degree view from the site. The road ends in a parking lot and one must hike to the summit. Needless to say, we didn’t hike to the top.
The visitor center at the summit of the mountain.
The clear vista to the west. The vista to the east from the parking lot is blocked by the trees.
It was late in the day. From here, we drove north to Hiawassee and then west to Blairsville and Blue Ridge where we spent the night before continuing our overnight trip.
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- Sherpa Guides: Russell Brasstown Scenic Byway
- Around North Georgia: Brasstown Bald