Rabun Bald Trail
Length: 2.9 miles
Hiked on: March 6, 2010
The Rabun Bald Trail is a fairly short
but strenuous trail that leads hikers to the second highest point in
Georgia, Rabun Bald. The trail
itself did not offer many good long range views, which I can remember, until
it reaches the top of Rabun Bald.
Nevertheless, I did find the trail quite enjoyable.
I gave this trail an "A" rating for scenery because it is one of the
best views that I have ever seen along a trail.
There is an observation tower at the top that offers a 360 degree
panoramic of the north Georgia mountains.
The view from the observation tower on top of Rabun Bald rivals that
of the highest peak in Georgia, Brasstown Bald.
I can't say this with any degree of certainty but, due to the close
proximity of the North Carolina state line, I believe that the trail even
offers views well into North Carolina on a clear day.
The trail begins on Hale Ridge Road, or
United States Forest Service (USFS) road 7, at a small sign approximately
5.6 miles from the intersection of Warwoman Road and Hale Ridge Road.
I remember that the sign was somewhat difficult to see and I would
have passed it if it weren't for the couple of cars that I saw parked beside
the road. I would highly
recommend resetting the trip meter on your car when you turn onto Hale Ridge
Road so you will know when to stop.
If coming from Warwoman Road, the trailhead will be on your left.
Also, even though there is parking, the parking is limited to just a
few cars, at the most. I feel
confident that you could find some alternate parking spots nearby, if
Leaving the trailhead, the trail begins
its push toward the top of Rabun Bald.
There aren't many notable points along the way except that there is a
possible water source approximately halfway to the top.
It is such a short trail that I would just make sure that I filled my
water bottles with clean water before I left the car.
I'll take this opportunity to remind you to always boil or filter
your water, regardless of how clean it may look.
Even though the trail climbs for nearly its entire length, the last
0.7 miles are much steeper than the rest of the trail.
The last quarter of a mile seemed to be quite a struggle.
I even spoke with a couple of young and fit college-age gentlemen
that said a couple of times that they had underestimated this trail's
difficulty, which made me feel quite a bit better about my huffing and
puffing. At mile 2.9, the trail
reaches its end at the observation tower.
Also, the Rabun Bald trail intersects a section of the Bartram Trail
here which I have not hiked, to date.
I experienced my first snow hike on
this trail. I would think that
it made the actual trail quite a bit more scenic than it would have been
otherwise. Of course, it didn't
change the fantastic view from the top.
The snow did add some additional challenges to an already difficult
hike. If you decide to go out
and hike in the snow, there are many things that you must consider.
The clothes you wear are very important because you do not want to
wear clothes that allow the melted snow to pass through.
You would also probably want to invest in some type of shoe, or shoe
attachment, that would allow for better traction in snow and ice.
Also, you should consider where you step because there is often ice
just below the snow that could make staying vertical (standing up) very
difficult. Also, I would think
the chance of hypothermia is elevated if you are hiking in the snow.
I tell you this because I learned my lesson the hard way, except for
the hypothermia part, when I was hiking this trail.
My pants got wet and then I got very cold because the snow was well
over boot-deep in places and then it melted because of my body heat.
There were places that I found it nearly impossible to simply walk
without losing my footing and falling down.
Going downhill, in these conditions, seemed to be much more difficult
than going uphill. I very nearly
broke my arm when I landed on an exposed rock once when I fell.
I highly recommend that you consult your local hiking store for more
information about what type of gear you should have for this type of hike.
I will probably go on a snow hike again one day but I will be better
prepared next time.
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