MORE INFORMATION: Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests 1755 Cleveland Highway Gainesville, GA 30501 770 297-3000
HIGHLIGHTS: The Bartram Trail is a national recreation trail that travels across the mountains of South Carolina, Georgia, and the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina. The trail is named after William Bartram, a naturalist who roamed the southern woods in 1775. He studied plants and animals and recorded his findings in a journal published as The Travels of William Bartram. The trail is blazed in yellow on the Chattahoochee National Forest, and it stretches for thirty-six miles in the state of Georgia. (For more information, you can visit the Bartram Trail Society website. Its members volunteer for trail development, construction, maintenance and repair.)
This section of the Bartram Trail heads northbound from Rabun Bald (4,696 feet) to the Georgia and North Carolina border at Hale Ridge Road. From Rabun Bald, the trail descends to Beegum Gap, continues a few miles through a hardwood forest and crosses a short bridge near a small waterfall about one mile from Hale Ridge Road. This is the end of the Bartram Trail in Georgia, and from here it climbs a ridge and enters the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina.
I hiked this section of the Bartram Trail twice in 1997, and both times we had sunny skies with warm temperatures followed by heavy thunderstorms and intense lightening. I highly recommend avoiding Rabun Bald in these conditions. To start the hike, leave Hale Ridge Road and hike in a southwestern direction for the first few miles on the yellow blazed Bartram Trail wandering past a small waterfall after 0.3 miles and over a series of modest streams. Load up on water now, since there is none available at the summit.