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Grassy Mountain

Grassy Mountain

Approximate size: 15,569 acres
Old-growth known: 1,966 acres

Grassy Mountain juts up abruptly from the Great Valley forming a dramatic and scenic backdrop to Chatsworth. Its location on the extreme western edge of the Blue Ridge and 2,800 feet range of elevation allow for an unusual mixing of species and great range of habitats that contribute to high overall biodiversity. A botanical inventory of the mountain documented 548 plant species, 20 of them rare (Moore 2002). The rare species include some, such as starflower and yellowwood, that are not known from the adjacent Cohutta Wilderness Area. Northern species that reach unusually low elevations on the mountain include yellow birch and mountain maple, and southern species rarely found in the mountains include swamp chestnut oak and oak-leaf hydrangea. Nine species of trilliums live on the mountain, the most known from any mountain on earth.

These species inhabit some of the most pristine forests in Georgia. The largest known tract of old-growth in north Georgia spreads across Grassy Mountain’s rocky upper slopes. The tract includes not only dry, non-commercial oak forests typical of north Georgia’s remaining old-growth, but also cove forests with towering trees. Both tuliptree and northern red oak reach 4.5 feet in diameter on the mountain. Another old-growth stand with picturesque white oaks stunted by harsh growing conditions and fern-covered forest floor is among the most easily visited old-growth stands in Georgia thanks to the Emery Creek Trail, which passes through the stand. The trail provides easy access to the heart of the roadless area and the stream for trout fishing. The trail’s main destination is the waterfall formed where the stream plunges over an erosion-resistant ledge of rock. The same band of erosion-resistant rock cuts across the area creating scenic cascades on a tributary and some of the only rock outcrops in the Cohuttas on Rocky Face Mountain.

Emery Creek traverses one of the greatest elevation gradients in Georgia. It begins on Big Bald, the westernmost 4,000- foot peak in the Appalachians, and empties into Holly Creek just below 1,000 feet elevation. Except for the very top in the Cohutta Wilderness Area and one tributary at the bottom, the entire watershed lies within this Mountain Treasure. This intact watershed represents one of the best opportunities in Georgia for species to migrate upslope in response to warming temperatures.

The falls on Emery Creek are the best known in this area, but Mill Creek, Milma Branch, and other streams also tumble down in picturesque waterfalls and cascades. Emery Creek and Dill Creek, which are entirely within this area, provide about half of the water to The Nature Conservancy’s preserve on Holly Creek, which was established to protect several rare aquatic animals. The entire Mountain Treasure drains into the Conasauga River, which harbors globally significant aquatic animal diversity, including several threatened or endangered species.

Lake Conasauga, the highest lake in Georgia, sits just outside the Mountain Treasure on the shoulder of Grassy Mountain. The lakeside campground and nearby trailheads make a great base for exploring the Mountain Treasure and Cohutta Wilderness. Grassy Mountain also boarders the Mountaintown Mountain Treasure. The Wilderness and two Mountain Treasures combine to form the least roaded area in north Georgia, and one of the most intact expanses of natural habitat anywhere in the Southern Appalachians.

Help us protect this 16,000-acre oasis of waterfalls, old-growth, rare species, panoramic views, and world-class trails.

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