Gahuti Trail: hiking at Fort Mountain State Park in North Georgia

Gahuti Trail at Fort Mountain State Park

Hike the 8.2-mile Gahuti Trail loop at Fort Mountain State Park near Chatsworth, exploring gorgeous overlook vistas, the cascades of a remote waterfall and backcountry campsites.

trail info

8.1 miles
(round trip)
more
difficult
Dog-
friendly

LOCATION:Fort Mountain State Park near Chatsworth, Georgia (maps & directions)

GEAR: Osprey Stratos 24 Backpack w/ our favorite hiking gear list and Canon 6D Camera

OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 777 Trails Illustrated Map

The Gahuti Trail hikes Fort Mountain’s beautiful backcountry, looping 8.2 miles through remote stretches of this Georgia State Park to catch incredible long-range views from multiple overlooks. The Gahuti (Cherokee for ‘mother mountain’) also treks to a beautiful, multi-tier waterfall at Goldmine Branch Creek and passes four campsites on this moderately challenging loop hike.

Fort Mountain Gahuti Trail: the hike

The hike departs from the Cool Springs Overlook parking area (view maps and driving directions), trailing north on a short section of paved, ADA accessible path before quickly reaching the Gahuti’s first of many stunning overlooks. Long-range views stretch to the north and east over Fort Mountain’s lower elevations, revealing the rolling mountains of Georgia’s southern Appalachians.

Stunning Views from the Cool Springs Overlook View on the Gahuti Trail Loop

The trail gains elevation, crossing a gravel road and continuing to follow the regularly-spaced orange blazes marking the trail. The hike passes a red-blazed side trail junction at .2 miles; optionally depart here to hike the Fort Mountain Stone Wall, Overlook and Tower Trail before returning to the Gahuti Trail loop, adding two miles to this hike’s mileage.

The trail crosses a road before plunging through a young deciduous forest, switching back regularly as it descends. The landscape changes as the trail descends into a beautiful, tree-canopied creek valley, reaching backcountry campsite #4 at .9 mile. Passing the campsite, the Gahuti crosses the small, trickling Rock Creek. Views suddenly open trail right through tree trunks and foliage, revealing a dramatic, soaring mountain peak to the left and sweeping plains of the farmland-specked forest ahead.

Hike to Views of Soaring Mountain Peaks and Sweeping Plains of Farmland From the Gahuti Trail

The Gahuti trail hikes through the contours of several deep-cut channel valleys, climbing steadily, before crossing through a small peak’s coniferous forest at 1.7 miles. The Gahuti descends elevation departing the pine-studded peak, passing two intersections with a white-blazed side trail and crossing a small wooden bridge spanning a flowing creek at 2 miles.

The Gahuti Trail continues its southward-bound hike, exploring the eastern stretches of Fort Mountain State Park. The landscape becomes rocky as the trail crosses several rocky outcrops at 2.3 miles, the hike skirting a ridge and offering occasional views between trees. Massive, rounded boulders punctuate the sides of the trail.

Hike Past Large Boulders and Through Towering Trees at Georgia's Fort Mountain State Park

The Gahuti dips elevation, crossing a wooden bridge spanning Goldmine Branch Creek at 2.4 miles. The hike turns right to follow the double-blazed yellow & orange trail as it descends along the multi-tiered cascades of Goldmine Branch Falls.

Hike to the Goldmine Branch waterfall on the Gahuti Trail at Fort Mountain State Park near Chatsworth

Departing the falls, the trail quickly begins a sharp ascent, rising from the ferny, mossy, waterfall-filled valley. The Gahuti Trail departs the yellow-blazed Big Rock Trail at 2.6 miles, turning right to follow orange blazes over a wooden bridge spanning a creek.

The trail passes campsite #3 before crossing the confluence of several creeks in a rolling rhododendron-filled creek valley at 3.3 miles. The Gahuti intersects a gravel road, turning right to follow orange blazes and hiking the wide, old gravel roadbed as it continuously ascends elevation. The trail ventures through a field of mossy, strewn boulders at 3.7 miles before crossing a paved road, rising on a ridge through a forest of towering trees.

Hike 8.1 Miles on the Gahuti Trail to Overlooks, a Waterfall and Mossy Forest

The Gahuti Trail intersects Fort Mountain’s white-blazed Goldmine Trail twice and reaches campsite #2 at 4.7 miles. The trail hikes to a stunning view, stretching to Chestnut Knob and the nearby, towering ridge to the south from an overlook at 5.1 miles.

Overlook on the Gahuti Trail at Georgia's Fort Mountain State Park

Departing the overlook, the trail hikes elevation gain toward the Fort Mountain Park entrance before crossing the paved entrance at 5.6 miles. The trail winds along a ridge before plunging elevation toward Mill Creek, turning west to follow the creek’s banks through a cover of dense rhododendron.

The trail departs Mill Creek, turning left to cross the creek via a wooden bridge at 6.5 miles, following a small side creek on the left before passing backcountry campsite #1. (This is our least favorite of the four sites – it’s situated nearly directly on the Gahuti Trail and offers little privacy.)

The hike switches back regularly over the last 1.5 miles, rolling elevation as it alternates terrain between towering forest and tight singletracks through dense underbrush and mountain laurel thickets. The Gahuti Trail swings north, paralleling the Fort Mountain State Park road as it approaches the Cool Springs parking area trailhead. The hike completes at 8.2 miles, having climbed and descended a total elevation change of nearly 4,000 feet along its length.

Note: slippery rocks and fast moving water can be extremely dangerous! Please don’t climb, stand on, swim near, or jump from any waterfall.

More Fort Mountain hiking adventures

Stay the night in the park and extend your adventure! Stay the night at one of the park’s campsites, or overnight in one of the Fort Mountain’s beautifully renovated cabins.

Then hike the Fort Mountain Lake Trail on the shores of the park’s glassy lake, paddle the lake’s calm waters by kayak or canoe, or hike the Fort Mountain Trail to a mysterious, ancient serpentine stone wall, a restored 1930s fire tower, and one of the best mountaintop views in North Georgia.

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Fort Mountain State Park Gahuti Trail Map, Directions & Details

Fort Mountain State Park Gahuti Trail Map
Fort Mountain State Park Gahuti Trail Map
This map is not a substitute for official trail maps or topographic maps.

Driving Directions


Parking

$5, or included with a Georgia State Parks annual pass.

GPS Coordinates

34.778950, -84.70553     //     N34 46.737 W84 42.332

Please Remember

Always leave no trace, tell someone where you're going, pack safety and wayfinding essentials, don't rely on a mobile phone to find your way, and follow these trail etiquette tips.

Elevation Profile

Fort Mountain State Park Gahuti Trail Elevation Profile
Eric Champlin is a writer and photographer who loves to hike, run, backpack, kayak and cycle the southeast. He’s the editor and founder of Atlanta Trails and Asheville Trails, online magazines that cover the South’s best outdoor adventures. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.