Fort Mountain State Park is a hiking paradise situated at the rugged southwestern end of the Cohutta Mountains. Within its boundaries are five distinct hiking trails totaling 14 miles, including some exciting history, great fishing, and 26 miles of recently developed mountain biking trails.
About the park
With more than 3400 acres of land located just east of Chatsworth, Georgia, Fort Mountain State Park is a rare combination of hiking beauty, ancient history, and fun, family-oriented camping. Within the park are 74 camping sites, including those for RV's and trailers, 15 cottages, miniature golf, boat rentals, picnic shelters and more than 100 picnic tables. Fort Mountain is 2,845 feet tall and is the tallest point within the park.
Originally improved by the Civilian Conservation Corps camp in Eton, Georgia, Fort Mountain was owned by former Atlanta mayor Ivan Allen, who donated the original land to the state. The state has added to the original donation on a number of occasions.
The centerpiece of the park is an 855-foot "fort" that stretches around the southern mountaintop just below the peak. Currently, archeologists believe the wall was built by Woodlands Indians about 500 A.D. Other theories abound. For a complete discussion of this "enigmatic" wall, see About North Georgia's Fort Mountain State Park.
About the trails
Fourteen miles of trails make Fort Mountain a hiking destination. The Gahuti Backcountry Trail circles the perimeter of most of the park. This trail is an easy single day journey for experienced hikers, but the state includes five primitive camping sites for those who want to take their time on the 8.2 mile loop trail.
For a short time the Gold Mine River Trail follows the river that creates the lake which is the centerpiece of Fort Mountain State Park camping area. This loop trail, which briefly shares its path with the Gahuti, explores the watershed of this creek.
The Lake Loop Trail takes you around the lake created by the dammed waters of the creek. A wide, well-cushioned trail on the south side of the lake, the Lake Loop takes on an entirely different personality on the north side, at one point being displaced by a beach. Besides the beach, this trail can be used as access to the miniature golf course and some of the picnic area.
At the top of Fort Mountain is a trail known variously as Mountaintop Loop, Old Fort Loop or Fort Mountain Loop. At just over a mile, this trail features some spectacular views, especially in winter. This leads to an old fire tower, one of the few remaining legacies of the CCC, which first developed the area in the 1930's.
How to get there:
From Atlanta, take I-75 north to exit 317 (GA 225, Joseph Vann Highway) North. Turn right (east) on State Road 52. Follow 52 to the top of the mountain. At the crest, Fort Mountain is on the left.
From Ellijay, take Route 52 west for 22 miles. This winding mountain road features many scenic views over the last ten miles or so. Shortly past the Cohutta Lodge, turn right at the sign for Fort Mountain.
Fort Mountain State Park is a fee-based area. Fees are reasonable.
Chief Vann House Chatsworth.
New Echota Historic Site, Calhoun.
Georgia Apple Festival (Ellijay, October)
Area camping: Fort Mountain State Park has exceptional camping opportunities.
Take a day to visit one of these national, state or local parks in the state of Georgia
About North Georgia
Big Rock Nature Trail
Chief Vann House
Civilian Conservation Corps
Fort Mountain State Park
Georgia Apple Festival
Mountaintop Loop, Old Fort Loop or Fort Mountain Loop
New Echota Historic Site