The hike up to Pinnacle Knob was a good surprise. (See the directions at the end) We had heard that it was a nice hike and it was. Plus, it has some of the best views in northeast Georgia right behind those at Unico Gap and Mountain Crossings. After a quick check of the hiking directions, we headed up this well-marked and very well-maintained trail. There are about three different ways to reach the summit, so do a search and decide, which one is best for you. We chose to hike the shorter route via Courthouse Gap, which was about 4.6 miles up and back.
The trail starts out with easy ups but quickly begins to climb. The altitude gain is 1,022 feet. So, from where we started, it was pretty much straight up at times. An old trail is still visible and was actually straight up. Yikes! The current trail has several switch backs, which makes the climb so much more enjoyable.
Funny how we all started off in jackets and the such, but by the time we arrived at the intersection of the Bartram Trail and the trail to the summit, we were pulling off outer hiking pants, gloves, and scarves. Anne traveled light on this trip—only carrying a camera and some water.
Timing is everything and the lighting was perfect on the way up for some very nice photos. This one reminds me of the trail near the Hike Inn on the way up to Spring Mountain but really it’s prettier.
Which way to go? You turn right at this sign and head up along several switchbacks before coming to a sweet summit with 270 degree views.
Pinnacle Knob offers some pretty amazing views! I love the light on this little pine tree.
You step out on to one of the several rock outcropping and see this. . . . winter, yes, and beautiful along with some remarkable vistas. The views are dramatic, stretching to Black Rock Mountain on the near horizon, and the southern end of the Smoky Mountains in the far distance.
Simple enough to “bag this peak!” To find the actual marker, you have to go past the overlook and hike up to a camping area. I always think these are located in the craziest places. On Black Balsam, people move it around! How, I don’t know.
Here is the very well-used camping area on the very top of the knob at 3,134 feet!
I rarely quote poems but I remembered this one and it just seemed to fit. Woods in the Winter—
When winter winds are piercing chill and through the hawthorn blows the gale, with solemn feet I tread the hill, that overbrows the lonely vale. — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
On the way down, I looked down and saw this little rock laying in a pile of leaves on the trail. I had heard about how people carry rocks with messages and leave them along a trail. I chose to take the message of this little rock with me and leave it behind for the next winter hiker.
Finally, on the way back, Anne looked at the woods and said, “The trees are just like sticks.” I immediately thought I would take the photo and try it in black and white. This looks like a very young forest. And if you look closely you will see the trail through the woods as it switches back.
Directions from Clayton, GA: From the intersection of Rickman Drive, Savannah Street, and US Route 23/441 in Clayton, follow US Route 23/441 North for 0.8 miles. Then, turn right onto Pinnacle Drive and continue for 1.2 miles, before turning left onto unpaved Courthouse Gap Road. After 0.2 miles of driving on Courthouse Gap Road, you will reach a powerline cut. At the powerline cut, there is a small parking area on the left with space for two cars. 0.1 miles farther up Courthouse Gap Road, there is another small parking area on the left with space for around three cars, just as a “dead end” sign is nailed to a tree near the road. The Courthouse Gap trail begins on the left side of the road about 250 feet after the second parking area, but there is no parking space at all at the actual trailhead.