Burnt, Sassafras and Oglethorpe Mountains

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Oglethorpe Mountain

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Burnt, Sassafras and Oglethorpe Mountains form a ridgeline at the southern extremes of the Appalachian Mountain chain. This integrated mountain region is located just north of Atlanta GA and East of Jasper GA. The mountain region forms the boundary between Pickens and Dawson Counties. While not unique to the Appalachian mountains, this region nevertheless does have unique characteristics that set it apart from the many other sections of the Appalachian mountain region.

Rising to over 3000 feet, the steeply sloped mountain ridges consist mainly of Ashe and Edneyville stony loam which has a moderate organic material and is strongly acidic. This soil supports rhododendron, mountain laurel, wild azalea’s, mainly hardwood trees (oak, hickory, maple, poplar, sourwood, and others) and 100’s of species of wildflowers. Underneath the thin stony loam soil is mostly solid phyllite, marble, and gneiss rock.

Of the many unique characteristics, water is quite possibly the most unique. Springing forth from the mountain region in more places than one can find is pure, refreshing mountain water. From elevations between 2500 feet and 2900 feet, water breaks through fissures in the rock base and cascades down the steep mountain slopes. The flow from the many springs joins together in the higher elevations to form small creeks and the small creeks joint to form larger creeks.

The water from Burnt Mountain creates Champion, Clear, Talking Rock, Long Swamp, Huckleberry Brook, Huckleberry Branch, Eagle Branch, and several other lesser creeks. Sassafras Mountain feeds North Branch Fall Creek, Monument Falls, Sunset Cliff, Mountain Springs, Boundary, and other lesser creeks. Oglethorpe Mountain feeds Disharoon, South Branch Fall, Bent Tree, and other lesser creeks. The creeks on the western slopes are primary water sources for Pickens Counties. Those on the eastern slopes feed Dawson County. Together, they are a principal water resource for Pickens and Dawson Counties and its many communities. Eventually, all this water joins the Etowah River which becomes a major water resource for communities southwest of the mountain region.

Since a large portion of the mountain region has slopes greater than 50 degrees, the water eventually tumbles over the sharp escarpments to form spectacular waterfalls. Finding several waterfalls in a mountain region is not unusual. But in the Burnt, Sassafras, and Oglethorpe Mountain region waterfalls are almost too numerous to count. More than 30 waterfalls have been located and mapped on the mountain region. As some of the region is very hard to gain access due to steep slopes and lack of trails, not all waterfalls have been found. And a few waterfalls have been excluded due to their small size.