This Stunning Summit Is Georgia’s Easy Version Of The 'Stairway To Heaven' Hike In Hawaii

Only 115 stairs to breathtaking (literally!) colorful views.

Views from Bell Mountain in Hiawassee, GA. Right: Man posing on the graffiti rocks.

Views from Bell Mountain in Hiawassee, GA. Right: Man posing on the graffiti rocks.

If you live in Georgia, you might be surprised to find that your humble home state has uncanny replicas of tropical Hawaiian adventures. This beautiful hike in the Empire State of the South is a much less strenuous version of the notorious "Stairway to Heaven" hike in Oahu — but the views are just as immaculate.

If you don't have the funds to head 4,000+ miles away from the continental U.S., you can venture to paradise right here at home.

Bell Mountain is a rugged summit at the very tip of the Peach State in Hiawassee. Ironically enough, the city's name even resembles "Hawaii," which is home to the Ha‘ikū Stairs, commonly referred to as the "Stairway to Heaven."

This phonetic resemblance is despite the fact the Aloha State was named by the Kānaka Maoli after the mythical fisherman Haiwai'i Loa, while the city of Hiawassee's name comes from the Cherokee word Ayuhwasi, which means "meadow."

One major difference is that Georgia's mini version of the hike is heavenly not only for its views but for also being a much shorter trek. You'll only have to climb about 115 stairs to reach the top, versus the Oahu's grueling version with 3,922 steps.

It might be hard to believe that such marvelous views can be had with such minimal effort.

When you look down from your destination at the Hal Herrin Scenic Overlook, you'll be struck by sweeping views of the unmatched North Georgia mountains, trees and Lake Chatuge glistening in the sunlight.

To reach the absolute highest point of the mountain at 3,424 feet, you can even dare to climb beyond the stairs along a footpath that leads to a second overlooking platform.

With 18 acres of terrain, this massive mountain holds an abundance of adventure. In addition to the 360-degree aerial views of the calming waters and treetops, Bell Mountain is also famous for its graffiti-covered rocks.

Although vandalism is frowned upon, county officials are embracing the art as part of the mountain’s "colorful history," according to Blue Ridge Country.

Bell Mountain

Price: Free parking and admission

Address: 220 Shake Rag Rd., Hiawassee, GA

Why You Need To Go: Get a taste of Hawaii right here in the Goober State with this mini "Stairway to Heaven" adventure with pretty rocks and even prettier views.


Before you get going, check out our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.

This article has been updated since it was originally published on September 14, 2020.

Laurie Bergeron
Associate Director, Content Development