FDR State Park straddles the lofty stretches of Pine Mountain, a towering ridge that lifts high above the surrounding southern Georgia plains. It’s chock-full of scenic beauty, from unforgettable long-range views to golden grasslands and cascading waterfalls. And given its close, barely-more-than-an-hour distance south of Atlanta, it’s not only one of Georgia’s most scenic state parks, but it’s also one of its most popular.
Awesome mountain hiking south of Atlanta? You read that right: Pine Mountain is not only ultra-scenic, but it’s also a short drive south of the city. The state park is Georgia’s largest, and packed within its many acres are ample opportunities for an epic outdoor adventure.
Pine Mountain, located near Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Little White House, was a favorite destination of the President. Dowdell Knob, an extension of Pine Mountain’s long, linear ridgeline, was frequented by FDR for picnicking and quiet reflection. Today, a commemorative statue of the President sits near his former stone barbecue pit.
FDR State Park offers more than 40 miles of scenic, well-kept and diverse hiking trails on Pine Mountain, the most notable being the 23-mile Pine Mountain Trail. Beautifully maintained by the Pine Mountain Trail Association, the Pine Mountain Trail meanders across its namesake mountain, catching stunning views from lofty overlooks, visiting tumbling waterfalls, exploring a wolf’s den and beaver-dammed ponds, and making pitstops at a series of prime campsites. The park also offers more than 20 miles of equestrian trails, paddling on two lakes, stargazing under abundant stars, excellent options for camping and backpacking, and a calendar full of family-friendly activities. Add a collection of recently restored historic cabins and a historic stone-lined swimming pool, and you’ve got the makings of a fantastic, near-Atlanta getaway.
FDR State Park: top hikes on the Pine Mountain Trail
Running the length of the Pine Mountain ridge, the 23-mile-long Pine Mountain Trail winds, climbs, and dips through the park’s most scenic stretches. And combining the PMT with side trails, the park offers seven loop hikes that make for a great day hike. Here are a few of our all-time favorites:
Cascade Falls on the Pine Mountain Trail
Hike the Pine Mountain Trail’s eastern end, trekking through dense mountain laurel tunnels, crossing streams and scaling boulders to visit Csonka Falls, Big Rock Falls, Slippery Rock Falls, Cascade Falls and several smaller waterfalls on Cascade Branch. Love waterfalls? This is your hike!
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Dowdell’s Knob Loop on the Pine Mountain Trail
4.3 MILE LOOP
It’s a view that’s truly Presidential. This hike catches outstanding long-range views from the Pine Mountain summit at Dowdell’s Knob, one of President FDR’s favorite picnic and barbecue spots in southern Georgia. Hike through wildflower-covered rocky slopes, near the site of a B-25 plane crash, and through mossy, pine-filled forest on a moderate loop.
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Wolf Den Loop on the Pine Mountain Trail
6.7 MILE LOOP
This exceptional Pine Mountain Trail loop visits five cascading waterfalls, sunny grasslands, beaver ponds, a rocky wolf’s den, a towering old-growth pine and miles of beautiful southern Georgia forest. It’s one of the most popular hikes at the park, and for a good reason: this trail is jam-packed with beauty.
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Our favorite hiking gear
What to pack for a Pine Mountain Trail hiking adventure
Ready to hit the trail, but wondering what to pack? Our hiking gear list features our favorite, trail-tested hiking gear for day hikes on local trails and in the Georgia backcountry. We print and stitch our Atlanta Trails shirts and hats locally in Atlanta and Asheville, and they’re our favorite for trail adventures all over the South. Our outdoor apparel reviews feature our favorite trail-worthy hiking boots, running shoes, jackets, and layering essentials for the South. And no matter what you pack in, pack it all back out. Please leave no trace and help preserve Georgia’s beauty.
OUR HIKING GEAR LIST
Paddle Lake Delanor
In warm-weather months, paddle the glassy waters of Lake Delanor, nestled in a shady forest beside the park’s campground and lakeside cottages. The park offers kayak, canoe, and flat-bottom fishing boat rentals; see the park office for details, rates, and availability.
FDR State Park historic cottages
With many miles of trails to cover and so much to see, we’d highly recommend an overnight stay (or a few!) in the park. Abundant stars fill the night sky, the makings of some epic stargazing. Fire pits, grills, and scenic picnic areas offer outdoor dining venues with unforgettable views. And Pine Mountain’s towering elevations provide incredible sunrises and sunsets.
Handcrafted in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the park’s cottages feel retro and rustic, but upscale and timeless. They feature fully equipped kitchens and full baths, and many offer screened porches for outdoor r&r after a full day of adventure. Each cabin, crafted of stone or log, is wonderfully unique: each offers a different floor plan, different furnishings, and each has unique character and charm. Some have gorgeous woodburning fireplaces, some have expansive entertaining areas, and some are simply snug, cozy and romantic.
FD Roosevelt State Park Historic Cottages
Rustic charm meets modern decor and convenience in the park’s recently-renovated collection of historic cottages. Some with stunning views off Pine Mountain’s ridge, and some nestled lakeside near the park’s lake, the cabins all offer easy access to the park’s expansive trail network. The cabins feel historic and comfy, yet upscale and timeless – and they’re our favorite way to overnight at the park.
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Camping & backpacking
This state park offers many great options for camping, too. Choose from tent-only, 15-foot electric and 50-foot electric campsites, some with fantastic lake views. Visit the park’s reservations page to check availability and reserve a site. Wondering what to pack for a great night under the stars? Our camping gear list features our favorite tents, sleeping bags, furniture, cookware, and campsite essentials.
Or if you’re up for a fantastic backpacking adventure with some stunning views, backpack the Pine Mountain Trail and overnight at one of the trail’s 16 backcountry campsites (reservations required; see the park office for details). Please remember to leave no trace when camping in the backcountry, and pack out everything you’ve packed in to help preserve the park’s abundant natural beauty.
Add even more variety to your adventure at the park with a day trip to nearby Providence Canyon State Park. Hike the Providence Canyon Trail through Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon,” exploring beautifully colored and sculpted sandstone walls. And don’t forget the camera! Providence Canyon is exceptionally photogenic.
Providence Canyon State Park Loop Trail
Hike through a sandy, stream-filled landscape lined with sculpted, serpentine sandstone walls at Georgia’s Providence Canyon State Park. It’s just over an hour south of FDR State Park, but well worth the journey: Providence’s colorful sandstone makes for one of Georgia’s most unique hiking experiences.
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