Get 360 degree views of North Georgia from atop Bell Mountain

Graffiti left by visitors seen as art by some, vandalism by others

Head to Bell Mountain for 360 degree views

About two hours north of Atlanta is a beautiful yet controversial mountaintop where a short climb rewards you with 360 degree views of Hiawassee and Lake Chatuge.

Mother Nature’s creations aren’t the only artwork you’ll find atop Bell Mountain, however. For about 50 years, visitors have been painting the rocks with everything from their simple initials to elaborate graffiti.

Although some people see the tagging as vandalism, the county has taken the position it is part of the mountain’s history. “It is permissible to paint the rocks,” it states, “however, painting any other part of the park is subject to criminal prosecution.”

That warning hasn’t stopped some people from painting graffiti on the new stairs and overlook at the site, however.

After the county took possession of the land, it graded the road to the top, and built stairs and an overlook to easily access and enjoy the view.

The 18 acre summit of Bell Mountain belonged to the Cherokee until they were forced off the land by the Indian Removal Act of 1830, according to a brochure for the historical site.

In 1832, William Taylor of Marion County drew the property in a land lottery, and the property changed owners several times but always remained private until 2015.

Around 1960, a group from North Carolina tried mining quartzite from the property. The top of the mountain was blasted off, and the white quartzite hauled to Murphy. The cost of this endeavor proved prohibitive, however, and the company dissolved.

When they left, there remained “a huge gaping hole on the top of the 3,400 foot knob that you can now see from miles away,” Wander North Georgia wrote. “The mountain has maintained this physical scar for over 50 years while the nearby lake has felt it’s more invisible effects from the erosion that pours into Lake Chatuge from the west bound slope affecting the water quality.”

Five years ago, the Hal Herrin estate deeded the land to Towns County. The site became known as the Bell Mountain Park and Historical Site, with the Hal Herrin Overlook erected “from whence citizens and posterity can drink in the beauty of God’s Creation with Lake Chatuge glistening in the sunlight far below, the clouds below on a misty morning, or a distant sunset over the boundless Appalachian Mountain ranges of GA, NC, and Tenn.,” Towns County Commissioner Bill Kendall wrote in the ordinance naming the property.

There are only about 100 steps from the parking lot to the overlook, so if you’re looking for a “hike,” this isn’t it. If you want to spend an afternoon photographing amazing views, however, you can be there in a couple of hours.

Bell Mountain Park and Historical Site

900 Bell Mountain Park Road

Hiawassee GA 30546

(706) 896-2276