Brasstown Bald (Enotah)
       7 ½’ quadrangle: Hiawassee, GA-NC
       Union (GA) and Towns (NC) Counties
       Chattahoochee National Forest;
             Brasstown Bald Wilderness excludes
             the summit.
       Five miles from the Appalachian Trail
             and about 50 miles from the AT’s southern
             terminus at Springer Mountain, Georgia.
       Blue Ridge Mountains

Metamorphic (metamorphosed sedimentary)
4,784 ft (1,458 m)

Schist outcrops along trail to summit. (2007).

Bedrock: Great Smokies Group (Ocoee Supergroup)

Late Proterozoic

Silver-gray, coarse-grained sillimanite-garnet-biotite-muscovite schist interbedded with feldspathic to argillaceous metasandstone and calc-silicate beds. Exposed in a structural window (Brasstown Bald window) below the older Richard Russell thrust sheet (Middle Proterozoic), with ultramafic mélange in the intervening Young Harris thrust sheet. Thus the mountain is encircled by ultramafic rocks in the Richard Russell thrust sheet. The schists were originally deposited as fluviatile-coastal plain sediments in a rift basin along the eastern Laurentian margin. The thrust sheets were stacked up during the Taconian orogeny.

Surficial Geology: Unglaciated. North slopes littered by rock fields. The summit is a heath bald, dominated by rhododendrons and gnarled scrubby oak trees, not one of the grassy balds, which are also common in the southern Appalachians. The origin of balds is still being investigated, but may have to do with plant succession history since the Ice Ages. According to one Cherokee legend, the Great Spirit cleared an area at the summit of Enotah as a landing place for people who, like Noah, waited out a great flood. Early settlers confused the Cherokee word for “open green place” with their word for “brass” - - hence the mountain’s English name. There is no brass (a copper and zinc alloy) in the area, but gold was mined elsewhere in Union County.

Soil Series: Chestnut loam: moderately well drained, deep brown loam, formed on weathered schist. Porters stony loam, darker brown and more organic-rich, lies on the steep north-facing slope of the mountain.

Additional Photos:

Sillimanite schist.

View south from summit

Layering in outcrops dips south.

Selected References:

  • Cabe, Douglas E., 1996, Soil Survey of Fannin and Union Counties, Georgia: Natural Resources Conservation Service.
  • Nelson, A.E., J.W. Horton, Jr. and J.W. Clarke, 1998, Geologic map of the Greenville 1 degree X 2 degree quadrangle, SC, GA and NC: U.S. Geological Survey Miscellaneous Investigations Map I-2175.

Other suggested sources of information:

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