Fort Mountain State Park is one of the absolute best places to hike in North Georgia.
This park offers over 50 miles of trails with spectacular summit views and exceptional beauty. There are opportunities for biking, hiking, paddling, camping, and any other outdoor activities you may want to partake in.
We are going to take a look at the hiking opportunities that this park offers, so that you know what to expect when you visit. We will cover where the park and the trails within it are, their difficulties and lengths, and all the features that they have. Let’s get started.
Where and What Is It?
Fort Mountain State Park has many interesting and beautiful features. There is an ancient stone wall that mysteriously zigzags over a soaring mountain summit, which stretches over 880 feet in length. The scenery is gorgeous, with overlooks that are memorable and stunningly distant and far-flung.
The towering ridge is named for the stone wall, which is of disputed Native American origin that dates back centuries and centuries ago. The park is enormous, with over 50 miles of not only hiking trails, but also ones suitable for horses and biking.
It is just south of the wild and remote Cohutta Wilderness and is located west of Ellijay and Blue Ridge.
Fort Mountain State Park Trails
So what options do you have for hiking in Fort Mountain State Park?
Lake Loop Trail
The first option on our list is the short and scenic Lake Loop Trail.
Fort Mountain lake reflects the surrounding forest of mixed pine and hardwood. It is also bordered by boat docks, campground, and sandy beach.
This trail explores a quiet creek valley, a shady forest, a sandy swimming beach, and a playground. You are also given absolutely spectacular views of the lake throughout the hike. It is 1.2 miles long, and runs in a loop, so you end up right where you started.
The hike has many interpretive signs for the plants and flowers, so it is a great educational journey for your kids. It’s fairly short, mostly flat, and offers some amazing views, so it’s perfect for a group hike, or even a mile-long running loop. If you want something short and sweet that still offers you a great look at the park, this is the trail for you.
You start the hike at the lakeside picnic pavilions at the park and follow the blue-blazed Lake Trail and turn right at the lake’s shore. The trail continues to follow the lake while winding through a forest filled with mountain laurel.
At the .35 of a mile mark, the hike passes an intersection with a red-blazed trail. Then the trail dips elevation into a shady forest, where you cross a small creek known as Goldmine Branch over a small wooden bridge.
You will reach the dock of the lake at .85 miles before going around the swimming beach. It is the perfect spot for watching the sun set over the lake.
When you reach the end of the hike, you have returned to the lake’s shore. You will be near the park campground, and there are small wood benches to allow you to observe the view longer.
If you are looking for something that requires more exercise and is more strenuous, the Gahuti Trail may be more your speed.
This 8.1-mile hike is dog-friendly, and is a better choice for more experienced hikers.
This trail explores the backcountry of Fort Mountain State Park, and you are given several towering overlooks to catch gorgeous views from. You also get to pass by a gorgeous multi-tier waterfall at Goldmine Branch Creek.
You can use this as a long day hike, or even to have an overnight backpacking adventure. If you choose the latter, you pass four different campsites on the trip to make it easy for you.
The hike begins at the Cool Springs Overlook parking area, and trails north on a very short section of paved ADA accessible path. You will quickly reach the Cool Springs Overlook, which gives you some great views of mountains, specifically Georgia’s southern Appalachians.
The trail climbs steadily, giving you a fairly steep path to follow. You will cross a gravel road, as well as a red-blazed side trail at .2 miles. If you would like, you can take a quick detour and follow it to the next trail on our list (the Stone Wall, Overlook, and Tower Trail). Adding in this detour adds an additional two miles to your route.
Then the trail crosses a road, and then plunges into a young deciduous forest. Your landscape will change fairly frequently throughout the trip, between deep valleys with dark, shaded trees, and high mountain overlooks.
After passing a campsite at .9 miles, the trail crosses the small Rock Creek. After that, your views will open up on the right side of the trail through foliage and tree trunks and reveal some dramatic mountain summits and forests.
The trail also passes through a few deep-cut channel valleys while steadily climbing, and then crosses through a small coniferous forest at 1.7 miles. Then the hike descends slightly and crosses a small wooden bridge over a creek at 2 miles.
You will continue downward to explore the eastern parts of the park. It will get fairly rocky around 2.3 miles while crossing through several rocky outcrops. The hike then skirts around a ridge and offers a few views through the trees. You will see a lot of enormous rounded boulders along the sides of the trail.
At 2.4 miles, the trail dips elevation, and crosses a wooden bridge that spans Goldmine Branch Creek. Then the hike turns right, and you will follow the double-blazed orange and yellow trail as it descends the Goldmine Branch Falls.
After the waterfall, you begin hiking upward sharply. At 2.6 miles, the trail turns right following over another wooden bridge spanning a creek.
The trail then passes campsite #3, and then crosses over several more creeks in a rhododendron-filled valley at 3.3 miles. The trail intersects a gravel road and turns right, and then ventures through a field of mossy, strewn boulders at 3.7 miles before passing a paved road.
You get a gorgeous view of Chestnut Knob at an overlook at 5.1 miles. Once you pass the overlook, the trail ascends to the park entrance, crossing Fort Mountain’s paved road at 5.6 miles.
The trail then winds along a ridge before plunging toward Mill Creek, then turns west to follow the creek’s banks through a field of rhododendron.
Then the trail turns left to cross Mill Creek over a wooden bridge at 6.5 miles, and then follows a small side creek before crossing campsite #1.
Stone Wall, Tower, and Over
If you are looking for a more moderate hike, one that is between the last two we looked at, the Stone Wall, Tower, and Overlook Trail may be the best option.
You start this trail at the park’s mountaintop-area trail-head and follow the yellow blazes in a northeast arc through a mossy hardwood forest. You elevate gently over time, and cross through a slope of boulders at 0.3 miles.
The hike then passes a junction with a red-blazed trail that connects to the Gahuti trail. This route continues straight, following a loop around the mountain’s summit. The trail starts going west at .45 miles and starts ascending towards a forest filled with ferns and boulders.
At 1.2 miles, the trail reaches a castle like tower that was built in the 1930s. After the tower, the hike follows a trail heading south toward the rock wall.
The hike will turn left to follow the wall and meets a trail junction at 1.45 miles. Then the hike turns right, following the Fort Mountain Trail along the wall’s southern contours.
The trail will leave the wall and descends a series of stone stairs toward the trail-head. At 1.6 miles, the hike reaches the parking area to finish off the walk.
Our Final Thoughts
We hope our guide to the Fort Mountain State Park trails was helpful to your research. This park is a gorgeous place to visit in Georgia, and it will be a great addition to any trip you are taking. No matter what trail you choose, you are sure to get some gorgeous views and a wonderful time.
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Last update on 2022-05-24 at 05:43 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API