Black Rock Mountain State Park, highest state park in Georgia, offers four hiking trails, camping opportunities, a visitors center and "trading post," all in the abundant beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Plentiful flora and fauna and impressive views make it one of the best state parks for the outdoors enthusiast in the state. The park covers almost 1800 acres of Rabun County. Flame azalea, rhododendron, mountain laurel come in bloom during the late spring.
Black Rock State Park takes its name from Black Rock Mountain, elevation 3640 feet. The mountain is to the northwest of Black Rock Road (Black Rock Mountain Parkway), within the park, and can be climbed on the Tennessee Rock Trail. The shear dark granite wall of the mountain, which is visible and easily identifiable from long distances, makes it a notable feature of the park.
When local citizens sold the land to the state of Georgia in 1939, access to the park was limited by the lack of roads. Governor Herman Talmadge backed a plan to build a road to the Georgia Department of State Parks land near Clayton in the early 1950s.
The park raised an early controversy in the battle over the separation of church and state. On top of Black Rock Mountain citizens constructed a large cross which the state would not remove. Over the years, the structure fell, and citizens were not allowed to replace the cross.
The area that comprises the park is some of the oldest land mass on earth. The roots of these mountains are probably over a billion years old, while the rocks and dirt nearer the surface were formed later. Typical of the southern Appalachian eastern ridge, the mountains are actually mostly rock, with a thin layer of soil to cover them. When these mountains were originally formed they rose five to ten miles above the earth's surface, towering over the present day Rockies or Himalayas.
An interesting relationship exists between the forces of nature trying to further strip the soil and the mountains themselves. Water, in the form of rain, is the most effective agent of erosion. The five to eight feet of yearly rainfall the area sees would move much of the mountains to the plains of southeast Georgia. However, about 2 million years ago, thanks to the same rain that was so effectively washing the mountains to the sea, a forest arose. Holding the meager topsoil to the earth, the trees stopped the massive erosion and a balanced formed. Water that would erode the mountain now nourished the trees that protected the topsoil. Without the rainfall the forest would die. Without the forest, the mountains would die.
Within Black Rock Mountain State Park their are four scenic overlooks. The Cowee Overlook is first on the drive in, and actually sits almost directly above the Ada-Hi Falls (see Hiking Trails), but the falls are not visible from the overlook. The Nantahala Overlook is in the Tent and RV parking circle. The Blue Ridge Overlook is on the road to the Visitor Center and the Black Rock Overlook is adjacent to the Visitors Center.
At .2 miles, Ada-Hi is the shortest of the trails within the park. It begins at a wooden frame entrance and is clearly marked as it descends from a typical north Georgia hardwood forest (watch for red and white oak) to a moist cove environment with tall yellow poplar (gum wood, tulip poplar or tuliptree). The 35 foot-tall falls is typical of a high mountain falls, completely drying out between rains, especially in the summer. Follow the sign for Tent and RV camping and watch for the entrance on the left.
This trail actually is designed to provide access to fishing sites on Black Rock Lake and can be accessed from the lake's parking area on Taylors Chapel Road. Walking around the lake is an easy .5 mile hike, with some good lake views, especially near dusk.
This 2.2 mile loop trail explores the northwest slope of Black Rock Mountain. Turn left at the "Visitors Center" sign and the parking area is on the right. Follow the sign up some wooden steps and down a short trail to the start of the loop trail. Follow the trail to the right. In about 1.1 miles the trail begins to climb to the ridge of the mountain, and becomes moderate. Once on the ridge, Tennessee Rock. As a wooden structure takes you across the mountain's highpoint the trail crosses the Eastern Continental Divide, which runs through the park. A few feet further the trail reaches Tennessee Rock, with excellent views of both Germany and Woolfolk Valley before returning to the parking area.
This 6.7 mile loop trail (7.2 if you include the side trail to Laurel Ridge camping area) is named for a popular Explorer Scout who died in 1991. Beginning in the same parking area as the Tennessee Rock Trail, the Edmonds Backcountry Trail follows a well-marked path for .7 miles, where it splits into the loop. Among the highpoints of this trail is Scruggs Knob and Lookoff Mountain, where you can see the Woolfolk and Germany Valleys and the city of Dillard.
Flowers and view at Black Rock Mountain
During the Spring Wildflower program(please call for dates) the rangers guide visitors to the spectacular colors created by the ramp, violets and bloodroot that populate the area.
Near the visitors center are the Ada-Hi, some of the highest falls in the state. Cherokee for forest, these are typical high mountain falls. A light water flow and periods when barely a trickle can be seen, the falls explode (relatively) during the spring.