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 southbound from Rabun Gap to Rabun Bald (4,696 feet) and is a backtrack hike. An old road provides access to Rabun Gap and four wheel drive is highly recommended for it. A fire tower at Rabun Bald has 360 degree views of mountains and ridges in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
The fantastic views make Rabun Bald an attractive overnight destination for backpackers, but a word of caution is in order – especially for the hot, humid summer months. Rabun Bald is prone to strong thunder and lightening storms and the exposed summit is extremely dangerous in these conditions. There are some small campsites along the Bartram Trail just south of the summit. They are tucked in the trees and are much safer than the open area around the tower. Both day hikers and overnight backpackers should watch for dark clouds in the skies to the south or southwest and get off Rabun Bald well before a storm hits. It is also recommended that all pets are on a leash around the summit since it is a popular day-hiking destination for many people that live in the area.