Cycling Brasstown Bald, Georgia
Ride 2.5 miles gaining 1,388’ at 10.5% average grade.
Brasstown Bald Observation Tower center right of photo.
Brasstown Bald is a popular cycling climb to the highest point in Georgia. This mountain is located in the Blueridge Mountain subrange of the Appalachian Mountains. On a clear day, you can see Atlanta 75 miles to the southwest from the observation tower at the top of the mountain. This is a brutally steep bike climb with the steepest quarter-mile at 16.6% and the steepest half-mile at 14.1%.
“Bald” is an Appalachian term for a mountaintop with 360 degree unobstructed views.
“Brasstown Bald is an iconic climb in the Southeast United States. It is located in the far northern section of the state of Georgia and is the steepest climb in that state of any reasonable length. Within a national forest and through mostly thick woods you are in quite isolated country on this hill. It also has high level cycling history on its severe slopes as the climb has served as a stage finish through its participation in the professional Tour of Georgia which produced excellent climbing drama during its too short tenure.” (This quote is provided with the approval of John Summerson, The Complete Guide to Climbing (by Bike) 2nd Ed. pg. 104.)
Start of climb. This route is on a Georgia Scenic Byway.
We are surrounded by forest on the climb, but there are fleeting distant views of the Blue Ridge Mountains at times.
Climb is on Georgia Scenic Byway and America’s Byway route.
Soapstone Creek to our left right at mile one.
PJAMM Adventure App details this crazy climb.
Purple is rarely seen on the profile and designates 20%+.
Two hairpins on the cycling segment of the climb . . . not enough!
The grade is like the moat to the tower’s castle . . .
. . . it protects the observation tower (at least from me - that grade is BRUTAL!!)
The full route to the top via roadway is three miles, but the last half mile at 13.6% is closed to vehicle and bike traffic. You may take a shuttle or hike the remaining half mile to the observation tower and visitor center. (photos below).
CYCLING BRASSTOWN BALD IN THE FALL
PARKING LOT, MILE 2.5
No charge for cyclists as of October 2020.
The Brasstown Bald Recreation Area and visitor’s center is owned and operated by the US Forest Service. This area sits 4,784 feet above sea level, making it the highest point in the state of Georgia. If you’re visiting the area, you can expect to find “picnic areas with great views, a general store with locally made products, three trailheads just off of [the visitor’s center] parking lot...a natural science and history museum” and a theatre and observation deck offering awesome 360° views of Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina. More information to help plan your visit can be found here.
Parking area and access to shuttle or hiking trail at mile 2.5.
Gift shop -- minimal provisions here.
No bikes on the trail.
SUMMIT - HIGHEST POINT IN GEORGIA
Brasstown Bald Observation Tower and Complex.
PJAMM Adventure App with the hike remaining.
Plaques for each compass direction identify distant peaks.
There is a west, but I missed it -- very crowded at the top during leaf peeping season . . . . 😞
Summit Visitor Center
NOW DEFUNCT TOUR OF GEORGIA
As a testament to the popularity of this great bike climb, it was included in all but one of the six Tours of Georgia held between 2003 and 2008. Notable stage winners include Chris Horner, Levi Leipheimer (2007), and Tom Danielson (2005-2007).
Levi Leipheimer on his way to victory on Brasstown Bald, Stage 5 of the 2007 Tour of Georgia.
Photo from sports.franzkelsch.com.