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Hightower Bald - Fall Foliage On Georgia’s 3rd Highest Mountain

The Basics:
Event Type:Hike
Event Location: Approximately 10 miles East of Hiawassee, Ga   Hike: Hightower Bald - Fall Foliage On Georgia’s 3rd Highest Mountain  National Weather Service Forecast
Date(s) & Time:Sun, Nov 10 2013  9:45 am >> Sun, Nov 10 2013 4:45 pm  (Carpool Departure: 7:30 am   *log in for location*)
Registration Opens: Wed, Nov 6 2013 9:00 pm
Registration Cut Off: Sat, Nov 9 2013 2:00 pm
Event Duration:7 Hours
Difficulty Rating:D6: Advanced
Distance:8 Miles
Trip Leader(s):
Laura V
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Member Cost:None

Participant Info:
Who's Invited: Members Only, 21 And Older Only
Maximum Group Size:10
Minimum Group Size:3
Number Registered So Far: 12 / 0 (To see who's signed up, log in to the Member Area)
Are Dogs Permitted: No

Standing 4568' above sea level with 808' of prominence, Hightower Bald is one of Geogia's highest peaks - 3rd or 4th depending on the prominence used. It is the highest in a series of a half dozen mountain peaks all over 4,000 feet that run west to Eagle Mountain.  This ridge-line lying in the Southern Nantahala Wilderness is one of the most remote areas in the state due to the rugged terrain, lack of roads, and... did I mention... NO trails. Absolutely perfect for those who like a little more free- form adventure in their hiking.  Although, probably a little past peak color, there should still be some spectacular autumn colors.

The route we will take up to Hightower Bald will be along Shoal Branch to Shooting Creek Bald (4,317' - left most distance peak in the photo) and then along a ridge line with some terrific views to "AOC Peak (so named because it didn't have an official name - middle in the photo) and then to Hightower (right in photo). After we have reached the summit of Hightower, we will head north a few hundred yards to visit Montgomery Corner, which has a unique story in the Georgia boundary definition. There is a geocache located at Montgomery Corner for any who may be interested in that. We will re-summit Hightower and then head south to the top of some cliffs, where we will get some other great views. From there it will be down, down, down some very steep terrain where we will visit a hidden waterfall - "Bawling Bear Falls". We named this previously unnamed waterfall, because it is where we had a startling, but harmless, encounter with a bear who was bawling. From there it will be a more gradual downward hike along some creeks until we get back to the cars.

Now, if the thought of going where relatively few others have gone, no trails, steep hills, extra steep hills, crawling at times, butt sliding at times, cliffs, rhododendron and mountain laurel thickets, wild boar, and possibly a bear are your kind of adventure, then you won't want to miss this hike.

Currently, the forecast is for sunny, clear skies.

Although this hike is not incredibly long at only 7.5 - 8 miles, don't be deceived by the distance. It is virtually all off-trail, with very steep hills, and is difficult - it's rated one D-level above normal due to the very rugged terrain. You should have a good sense of balance, sure footing, and be comfortable hiking on some extremely steep terrain, with loose dirt, leaves, and rocks.  If you do not have recent D5/D6 hiking experience your trip leader will be contacting you to determine if this hike is appropriate for you.

Required Items to Bring:
  • * Plenty of water (2.5 - 3 liters)
  • * Lunch AND snack for energy
  • * Good hiking shoes/boots - athletic shoes or cross trainers are NOT suitable for this hike.
  • * LED flashlight - I see virtually no chance of needing this, but this is a remote wilderness hike and you should be prepared.
  • * Clothing appropriate for the weather - Hightower is at 4,568 feet of elevation, so expect the high temps to be lower than the surrounding area.  You can also expect some snags on this hike, so don't wear anything that you will fret about getting some snags on.
  • * Cash for carpool
  • * Flexibility, a good attitude, and a sense of adventure.
Recommended Items to Bring:
Use our Event Checklists to make sure you have everything you need.


  • * Leather gloves - there is a short section where we need to get on all 4's, so these come in very useful.  They are also helpful if/when there are briers.

How to Get There:
Event Directions:

If there is anyone who for some reason needs to meet at the event, I will provide directions via email.  

Carpool to Event Distance (round trip):200Mile(s)
Carpool Departure Time: 7:30 am
Carpool Location:   Log in for location
Carpool Directions:   Log in for directions
Carpool Cost: Estimated cost per vehicle for this event is $80.00 using a reimbursement rate guideline of $0.400 per mile. The total amount should be divided by the number of people in the vehicle, including the driver. This is a guideline, not a rule, for drivers but the cost should not be higher unless there are extenuating circumstances.

* We encourage all members to follow our Etiquette Guidelines while participating in AOC events.

Cancellation/Partial Attendance:   Please review the AOC cancellation policy.