Bell Mountain in Hiawassee, GA
Take the short, exciting drive from Hiawassee to the top of Bell Mountain and enjoy spectacular birds-eye views of the nearby lake, town, and mountains!
The distinctive Bell Mountain peak is one of the easiest to recognize in the area. From a distance, simply look for the mountain with the notched peak next to Hiawassee and Lake Chatuge. And whether you love it or hate it, the abundant graffiti covering almost every surface is something you won’t be able to miss when on the mountaintop.
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Bell Mountain Hiawassee GA
Bell Mountain in GA is an excellent option for anyone who prefers the reward of a great view after a scenic car ride instead of a lengthy hike. Visit the Bell Mountain Park Historical Site and enjoy impressive views of Lake Chatuge and the Appalachian Mountains from an elevation of 3,424 feet.
Drive to the top of Bell Mountain, park for free, and enjoy miles of breathtaking views that stretch from Georgia into North Carolina and Tennessee. Gaze at the panoramic views from the parking lot, the Hal Herrin Overlook, or the viewing platforms at the Bell Mountain summit. Plus, this family-friendly activity is also FREE and pet-friendly!
Bell Mountain Park Historical Site
This unique park offers an incredible vantage of Lake Chatuge and the nearby town of Hiawassee. The gorgeous views from the parking area and the Hal Herrin Scenic Overlook are accessible with no hiking or climbing required! However, for the best vantage, you can opt to climb 115 stairs to the platforms with 360° views at the summit!
You’ll definitely notice a LOT of tagged surfaces at Bell Mountain — the graffiti stretches in every direction from the parking area to the summit. While painting graffiti at Bell Mountain used to be permitted, as of 2018, painting is no longer allowed in any area of the park.
Bell Mountain History
Currently known as Bell Mountain, the distinct peak can be found on many topographical maps as Bell Knob and has been referred to in the past as Bell Creek or Pilot Mountain (George White in 1849) and Bell Rock Mountain (T. Larry Gantt in 1883).
The Bell Mountain Park Historical Site appears to have changed ownership only a handful of times in the past couple of hundred years. Records were lost when the Union County courthouse burned in 1856 (the site was a part of Union County until March 1856, when Towns County was created), so tracing the exact history has an extra level of complexity.
Bell Mountain is located in an area of the former Cherokee Nation. Although the Cherokee won a Supreme Court case that confirmed their national sovereignty (Worcester v Georgia, March 3, 1832), the state of Georgia did not follow the ruling, and the federal government did not enforce it.
Over many years, parcels of Cherokee lands were distributed by land lotteries run by the state of Georgia, and in one of the 1832 Land Lotteries, William Taylor of Marion County was awarded the land lot that includes the peak of Bell Mountain (Land Lot 71, in the 18th District, 1st Section, of “originally Cherokee, now UNION COUNTY” in North Georgia).
While William Taylor originally won the land in the land lottery, it is speculated that he may have never visited the site before selling it. Property ownership changed a handful of times, with the original site being split in 1858 into parcels of land and separate mineral rights.
Although there was interest in minerals on the land dating back to 1858, Bell Mountain mining would not start for over a hundred years.
Mining at Bell Mountain
During the early 1960s, the top of Bell Mountain was blasted and mined for white quartzite by Hiawassee Stone Company, despite the lack of a market for the product.
The mining venture was a costly failure, and although mining only lasted a few years, the destructive dynamite blasts left a visible scar that remains on the mountain today. In the years since mining ended, the exposed notch of rock has been vandalized with decades of graffiti.
Hal Herrin Ownership
Hal Herrin purchased the Bell Mountain property in 1971 to preserve the site’s remaining natural beauty.
The site remained undeveloped under Hal’s ownership, although the rugged dirt trails made it a popular destination for off-road drivers. The off-road driving had adverse effects on vegetation and erosion, and when the Hal Herrin Estate donated the 18-acre Bell Mountain site to Towns County in 2015, an effort was started to help protect the mountain from these issues.
Bell Mountain County Park
In 2016, the site was formally named Bell Mountain Park and Historical Site. After the park was established, the county announced plans to build a paved road, create a parking area, and erect a platform to enjoy the incredible views of the surrounding lake and mountains.
Commissioner Bill Kendall remarked when the park was dedicated, “How lucky we are that it was in private hands for 154 years and there’s still no houses on Bell Mountain.”
The 2016 ordinance which created the park proclaimed that the park would have a Hal Herrin Overlook to allow people to drink in the beauty of “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 Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.”
Visiting Bell Mountain Park
Whether you like to enjoy a birds-eye view above the town or watch actual birds of prey soaring nearby, this is the perfect place for both! The unique mountaintop location not only has grand views, but is also popular for watching soaring eagles, vultures, and paragliders!
Driving to Bell Mountain Overlook
Most of the Bell Mountain summit drive is on a steep one-lane road with two-way traffic. You must drive slowly and be on the lookout for oncoming drivers around multiple blind, sharp curves.
The speed limit for the one-lane road is 5 mph. Visit on a weekday and during the off-season for a less congested drive.
Parking at Bell Mountain
When you reach the first parking lot, you can opt to park there and walk up the last 300 feet, or you may continue to drive to the upper parking lot, past a sign that (sort of) reads:
FOOTPATH to Summit 300ft. WARNING STEEP GRADE. Vehicles that travel beyond this point on Footpath AT YOUR OWN RISK. Must yield to pedestrians.
We waited for pedestrians to clear the road, then drove the final, steep 300 feet to a parking lot that felt like it was on top of the world! You can see plenty of amazing scenery from this area, or take the stairs up to the peak to see views in every direction!
Facilities at Bell Mountain
Aside from the road, parking areas, and viewing platforms, there are not any facilities at Bell Mountain Park. There is no bathroom or porta-potty, no store or vending machine, no ranger or park staff on duty, and aside from the bench in the photo above, there is also no seating. Please plan your trip accordingly.
Bell Mountain Graffiti
Although painting graffiti at Bell Mountain used to be allowed, any painting now is considered vandalizing and could lead to criminal charges. Please enjoy Bell Mountain as it is, and do not paint anything, including the rocks, roads, or structures.
Bell Mountain Contact Info
The road to the top of Bell Mountain is secured by a gate. Hours change seasonally, but the road is generally open from around sunrise to slightly past sunset. The road closes during inclement weather.
This park is FREE to visit — there are no fees for parking or to enter Bell Mountain.
- Hours: approximately sunrise until just after sunset
- Phone: +1 (706) 896-2276
- Location: 220 Shake Rag Rd, Hiawassee, GA
- Website: townscountyga.org/bell-mountain-park—historical-site
Bell Mountain Reviews
Stay current with the latest news with online reviews of Bell Mountain. Follow Bell Mountain social media to stay aware of closings due to weather events.
- Facebook: Bell Mountain has 12,000+ likes
- TripAdvisor: Bell Mountain is rated 4.5 with 250+ reviews
- Ranked #1 for Things to Do in Hiawassee
- Yelp: Bell Mountain is rated 4.8 with 25+ reviews
Virtual Visit To Bell Mountain in Hiawassee, GA
Get a better sense of what it’s like at Bell Mountain in Hiawassee, GA, with this virtual visit video filmed on a Spring 2023 visit to Bell Mountain. Watch the embedded YouTube video or watch similar videos on TikTok (One-Lane Road to Summit video and Bell Mountain Peak video).
Lodging Near Bell Mountain in GA
Enjoy quicker access to the summit with a stay near Bell Mountain in GA. Enter your travel dates in the interactive map below to see real-time lodging options near Bell Mountain Park.
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Learn more about the area with these articles:
- Great Places to Stay in Hiawassee, Georgia
- Top Restaurants in Hiawassee and Young Harris
- Scenic Drives in North GA Mountains
Do you enjoy the excitement of the drive on the narrow, mountain road to the peak at Bell Knob? What is your favorite part about visiting Bell Mountain Park near Hiawassee?