Hike the Wolfden Loop on the Pine Mountain Trail, exploring spilling waterfalls, a beaver pond, a wolf’s den, golden grasslands and shady forest, one of FDR State Park’s most popular hikes.
LOCATION:FDR State Park near Columbus, Georgia
Five small, cascading, moss-covered waterfalls. Wide-open, sun-drenched grasslands, skirted by beaver ponds. A rocky, shady wolf’s den. A towering pine tree named ‘Ferney’. And mile after mile of beautiful forest hiked on beautifully maintained trails. It’s no wonder that the Wolfden Loop is considered one of the most beautiful stretches of the Pine Mountain Trail, and one of the most popular hikes at Georgia’s FDR State Park.
This hike explores a segment of the 23-mile Pine Mountain Trail, a popular hiking and backpacking trail that spans its namesake mountain in southwestern Georgia. The hike follows the Beaver Pond Trail and the easternmost stretches of the PMT, exploring a staggering diversity of landscapes along a moderate 6.7-mile loop. (Looking for a shorter, out-and-back trip to this hike’s waterfalls? Hike the Pine Mountain Trail to Cascade Falls, a round trip under 4 miles.)
Wolfden Loop on the Pine Mountain Trail: the hike
The hike departs from the Rocky Point parking area in FD Roosevelt State Park (view maps and driving directions), following the blue-blazed Pine Mountain Trail south from the highway. The hike quickly reaches a trail junction at .1 mile, veering left to hike the white-blazed Beaver Pond Trail southbound.
The Beaver Pond Trail rolls elevation, crossing through a small grassy clearing and trekking through a thin, young forest that offers between-the-tree views. The hike meets a trail junction at .5 mile, the intersection of the White Candle Trail, veering left to continue on the Beaver Pond Trail and carefully crossing the paved Pine Mountain Highway. The Beaver Pond Trail exits the forest canopy, diving into an open, expansive grassland.
The trail dips back into tree cover, meandering through a young forest of spindly pine and deciduous trees. Reaching the blue-blazed Pine Mountain Trail at 1.85 miles, the hike hangs a left, following the PMT to the northeast. The PMT descends, passing a small beaver pond and skirting the banks of Wolfden Branch Creek. The trail meanders through a sun-drenched clearing, weaving through scraggly shrubs and crossing a small wooden bridge, before arcing back to the creek.
Over the next .65 miles, the PMT explores the Wolfden Branch creek valley, trekking through dense mountain laurel, crossing the creek three times and exploring the tumbling cascades of Csonka Falls, Big Rock Falls, and Slippery Rock Falls. At 3.3 miles, the hike scrambles over boulders and turns right at a signed intersection, continuing the trek to Cascade Falls. The trail descends, plunging through several shallow creek crossings before reaching the Cascade Falls waterfall at 3.6 miles.
The trail arcs sharply northwest from Cascade Falls, climbing to the wolf’s den, a rocky bluff bordered by boulders. The trail meets the banks of Cascade Branch at 3.9 miles, crossing the pebble-lined creek by a wooden bridge at Combs’ Crossing.
The Pine Mountain Trail reaches the Old Sawmill campsite at 4 miles (camping permit required; contact FDR State Park for availability). Just past the campsite spur, the trail reaches ‘Ferney,’ an old-growth, broad-trunked pine that sinews skyward on the banks of the creek.
The PMT passes an intersection with a horse trail, continuing its northbound trek along the creek’s banks, passing through groves of mountain laurel and swaths of large ferns. The trail reaches a waterfall at 4.25 miles, where Cascade Branch tumbles over an old concrete dam spillway.
The trail arcs southbound, climbing elevation to reach the Pine Mountain Trail mile marker 20 at 4.5 miles. The trail turns westbound, rolling elevation over a small knob in a rocky forest of spindly, young deciduous trees.
The trail passes an intersection with a horse trail at 5.2 miles, just before passing the PMT mile marker 19. The trail rolls elevation through the forest, crossing two more horse trail intersections before reaching the PMT’s Sassafras Hill campsite (camping permit required; dry campsite (no reliable water sources); fires prohibited in dry months). The trail crosses Mount Hope Branch, an often-dry creekbed, by a wooden bridge, just before reaching the Rocky Point trailhead. Carefully crossing the highway, the hike reaches the trailhead parking area at 6.7 miles, completing the Wolfden Loop hike.
Note: slippery rocks and fast moving water can be extremely dangerous! Please don’t climb, stand on, swim near, or jump from any waterfall.
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32.863074, -84.719350 // N32 51.785 W84 43.161