Hike the Indian Seats Trail to the summit of Sawnee Mountain, an outstanding overlook with beautiful, long-range views of the North Georgia mountains.
LOCATION:north of Atlanta, near Cumming, Georgia
It’s easily one of the best views in North Georiga. The Indian Seats Trail hikes over and around the sheer face of Sawnee Mountain, exploring breathtaking views of the distant rolling ridgeline of the Blue Ridge Mountains. And sunsets from the mountain’s towering overlook are simply spectacular.
The trail is part of the 5+ mile network of hiking, walking and running trails at the Sawnee Mountain Preserve, a 900-acre stretch of beautiful coniferous and deciduous forest just 40 miles north of Atlanta.
The mountain’s history spans from a sacred site for the local Native American Cherokee and Creek tribes to a mining site in the 1800s search for gold in Georgia. Today, the mountain preserve offers a number of fantastic hikes and running trails – and this view-packed loop is one of the park’s most popular, named for the granite, carved seat-like depressions on the mountain’s summit.
Sawnee Mountain Indian Seats Trail: the hike
The adventure begins at the park’s visitor center on Spot Road (view maps and driving directions). The hike reaches the Indian Seats Loop, turning left at the intersection to follow the loop trail counterclockwise, immediately gaining elevation and winding through several wide switchbacks. The trail rolls elevation as it swings south of the mountain’s summit, hiking past a now-gated gold mine entrance, carved deeply in the exposed rock outcrop, at just over 1 mile.
The hike follows a well-marked side trail to the mountain’s summit, reaching the overlook at 1.9 miles. Carved in the lofty, sheer face of the mountaintop are several natural depressions in the rock, were used by local tribes as seats for lookouts and meditation centuries ago.
The overlook offers gorgeous, expansive views of the valley stretching below, and the southernmost range of Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains rise to the north on the distant horizon. Windswept conifers line the rocky ridge, with excellent views extending along its east-to-west length.
The hike departs the Sawnee Mountain summit overlook, rejoining the Indian Seats Trail to continue the counterclockwise loop, meandering as it winds down the mountain’s southern expanse. The hike reaches the intersection of the Yucca Trail at 2.4 miles, turning left.
Looping back to the trailhead
The trail passes the southern visitor center and parking area and a second mine entrance at 2.9 miles before turning northward, ascending a small knob at 3.4 miles before descending towards the Spot Road trailhead. The hike reaches the trailhead and visitors center at 4 miles, completing the adventure.
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Free. Dogs are (unfortunately) not allowed in the Sawnee Mountain Preserve, so please leave your four-legged hiking buddies at home.
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