Imagine unobstructed 360-degree views over the rolling north Georgia Appalachian Mountains. Below, the sprawling Chatuge Lake stretches far into the distance, dotted with islands. Bell Mountain offers visitors one of the prettiest views in Georgia. However, it may also be the saddest mountain you’ll ever see.
Getting To Bell Mountain's Viewpoint
Looking down on the gorgeous lakeside city of Hiawassee in Georgia, Bell Mountain’s viewpoint no longer requires hiking.
The 2.3-mile access road goes straight to the top. However, the last mile of the road is scarily steep. In fact, there are two parking lots, with a steep grade warning for those traveling to the top lot.
A Little History on Bell Mountain
Plagued with destruction since as early as 1960, Bell Mountain was once the site of a quartzite mine. Three men from Murphy, NC blasted the top of the mountain in search of the mineral. Not able to make the business profitable, they eventually ceased operations in 1963.
In 1971, a local man named Hal Herrin purchased the land to preserve it. It became popular with hikers, and off-road enthusiasts (Jeepers).
Upon Hal’s passing in 2014, he willed the land to Towns County, to preserve Bell Mountain for generations to come.
Recognizing the mountain’s beauty, the county added a viewing platform and graded out the road. Later, they extended the Hal Herrin Scenic Overlook to an elevation of 3,424 feet above sea level. This top-level platform provides a stunning 360-degree panoramic view.
Controversy and Continued Destruction
However, not everyone is thrilled about the road, nor the platform. Many locals blame the road’s easy access for Bell Mountain’s most current form of destruction…graffiti.
Stacked up like cars in a junk yard, hideously graffitied rocks litter the landscape.
By no means are these the beautiful graffiti art murals often painted on man-made structures. We’re talking, ugly, childish scribblings desecrating this beautiful natural place.
From the rocks, to the platform, to the parking lot, even the trees haven’t escaped this horrible crime.
Apparently, prior to April 2018, painting the rocks wasn’t prohibited and became some kind of warped tradition. Truthfully, this baffles, saddens, and flat-out disgusts me. How can anyone think this was a good idea?
Thankfully, nowadays, signs warn of security cameras and clarify the prohibition of painting of any kind. There’s even been a few prosecutions of violators.
Final Thoughts on Bell Mountain
If you’re a nature lover, I guarantee Bell Mountain will break your heart. To see such a beautiful place, in such an ugly state, is frustrating.
However, with one of the prettiest views in Georgia, Bell Mountain still deserves your time, and your compassion. In time, these scars will fade, mother nature is beautiful that way. Please don’t be part of the problem, let this remarkable place heal.
What are your thoughts on Bell Mountain?
Watch the short video of the panoramic view from the Bell Mountain overlook.
You can find Bell Mountain at: 220 Shake Rag Rd, Hiawassee, GA 30546