An ancient, mysterious stone wall zigzags over a soaring mountain summit, stretching an epic 885 feet in length. Birds of prey soar overhead, herds of deer scatter below. The scenery is strikingly beautiful, and the views from the nearby overlook are far-flung, distant, and indefinitely memorable. Fort Mountain State Park is, by far, one of Georgia’s most scenic and beautiful places.
Nestled just south of the remote, wild Cohutta Wilderness, and located just west of Ellijay and Blue Ridge, Fort Mountain rises sharply from the surrounding, rolling landscape. This towering ridge is named for its mysterious stone wall, of disputed Native American origin dating back some legions of centuries. The park features more than 50 miles of hiking, mountain biking and equestrian trails that wind and wander through the park’s exceptionally beautiful landscape.
This Georgia State Park boasts multiple overlooks that peer from lofty heights, outward to the distant neighboring Blue Ridge Mountains. The tranquil waters of the mountain’s lake nestle in the forest, offering a beautiful venue for the park’s campground and sandy beach. A multistory stone fire tower, constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps and recently renovated by the park, towers high on the mountain’s summit. And the long, serpentine stone wall meanders across the mountain, origin unknown, thought to be either ceremonial in nature or some form of primitive defense.
The park’s beautiful lands are abundant, stretching over 3700 acres, and are one of Georgia’s top destinations for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and sunset-watching. Explore the mountain’s beauty, and stay awhile: the park’s recently renovated, comfy cabins carry a rustic/modern cottage decor and make for an awesome multi-night stay at the park.
Fort Mountain hiking
This park has long been one of our favorite hiking destinations in Georgia. More than 10 miles of prime, well-maintained hiking trails visit the park’s most scenic, historic and stunning areas, trailing to gorgeous mountain overlooks, historic structures, a tumbling waterfall, and a placid lake.
Stone Wall, Tower, and Overlook Trails
1.6 MILE LOOPHike a three-trail trio at on the mountain’s summit, climbing to visit the park’s serpentine rock wall and exploring restored 1930s stone fire tower. Then trek to the mountain’s overlook platform to catch sweeping, broad views and epic sunsets.
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Lake Loop Trail
1.2 MILE LOOPHike a short, scenic, kid-friendly loop around a mountaintop lake, trailing through a lakeside forest, the lake’s sandy beach and the park’s lakeside campsites. Interpretive signs illustrate the forest’s flora and fauna, making the trail a fun educational experience, too.
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8.2 MILE LOOPHike or backpack the scenic Gahuti Trail, looping past multiple overlooks, trailing through a rocky forest and visiting a tumbling waterfall. Pack it in for an overnight adventure: four backcountry campsites along the trail offer an epic adventure underneath the stars.
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Our favorite hiking gear
What to pack?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
With over 27 miles of prime mountain biking trails, Fort Mountain is one of the most scenic and popular mountain biking destinations in Georgia’s state parks. Hit the trail on the Lake Loop, a 1.2-mile loop that’s beginner (and kid) friendly. Or for a more challenging adventure, pedal the 6-mile Gold Mine Loop, or tackle some difficult terrain on the park’s 7-mile Cool Springs Loop or 14-mile East-West Loop trails. (Note: a $3 permit is required to ride the Gold Mine Loop, Cool Springs Loop, and East-West Loop; check the park’s website for permit availability and trail notices.)
The mountain’s 17-acre lake laps its shore gently in the cool summit breezes, its glassy surface reflecting the surrounding scenic forest. In warm-weather months, paddle the lake by canoe or kayak, or explore the lake by pedal boat (rentals available). Or for a great workout, rent a stand-up paddleboard, a new sport that combines kayaking and surfing on a large, stable stand-up board.
Fort Mountain camping and cabins
The mountain’s lofty elevation and breezy summit make for some amazing North Georgia camping and memorable nights underneath the stars.
Fort Mountain Cottages & CabinsIf cozy cabin life is your goal, the park’s newly renovated cottages are well worth a stay! Several are dog-friendly, too, so you won’t have to leave your favorite four-legged adventurer at home. For the ultimate stay, overnight in the park’s newly renovated cottages. They’re bright, modern and spacious, and blend rustic, vintage lakehouse charm with upscale modern furnishings. They feature oversized screened porches, a woodburning stove, fully-equipped kitchens and crisp, clean linens. They’re nestled in a forest near the mountain’s lake.
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The park features 70 campsites near the lake, offering electric and water hookups, and easy access to the park’s best hiking trails. Each campsite also features a fire ring (s’mores, anyone?) and picnic table, and they’re offered in two sizes to accommodate tents and small campers or large RVs. Bring the family for a summertime adventure, and beat the heat at the lake’s sandy swimming beach, or play away the day on the park’s large playground.
Catch an adventure (and some epic sunsets) in the park’s backcountry, and backpack the 8.2-mile Gahuti Trail through some of the mountain’s more remote stretches. Pack it in, and overnight at one of the Gahuti Trail’s four campsites (reservations required); site #4, Rock Creek, is our favorite for its nearby views and location near a trickling, clear creek.