Atlanta TrailsbyTrailful Outdoor Co
Hiking Trails in Georgia

Fort Yargo State Park Lake Trail

Hike or run the southern half of the Lake Loop Trail, catching nearly-continuous lake views and beautiful sunsets at Fort Yargo State Park near Athens.

georgia hiking trails: 4-6 miles 5 miles
(round trip)
? Your mileage may vary! Accuracy of your GPS device, weather conditions, and stops along your route will affect your own recorded distance.
georgia hiking trails: easyeasy to
?Our difficulty estimate, based on distance, terrain, elevation change, & ease of wayfinding. May vary daily due to weather, trail reroutes, downed trees, etc.
georgia hiking trails: dog-friendly Dog-
?Leashed dogs are allowed on this trail. We’ve loved hiking this route with our trail-loving Labrador Retrievers! Check out more of our favorite dog-friendly trails in Georgia for a great hike with your pup.

LOCATION:Fort Yargo State Park near Athens, Georgia

PACK:our Osprey day pack and our hiking gear list

Fort Yargo State Park is a popular hiking, trail running, mountain biking, fishing, and camping destination, thanks to its short drive from both Atlanta and Athens. The highlight of the park is a large, 260-acre lake with a meandering shoreline that’s shaded by pine and hardwood trees. Circling the lake, the Lake Loop Trail spans seven scenic miles. This out-and-back hike travels through some of the park’s more remote and scenic areas and runs nearly level, making it equally great as a beginner-friendly hike or ultra-scenic trail run.

Hike or run the southern half of the Lake Loop Trail, catching nearly-continuous lake views and beautiful sunsets at Fort Yargo State Park near Athens. #hiking #trailrunning #camping #northgeorgia #athensga #atlanta #georgia #travel #outdoors #adventure

Fort Yargo Lake Loop: the hike

The adventure begins at Fort Yargo’s picnic area (view maps and driving directions), hiking southbound (the lake is the trail’s left side). The trail passes a small island, a wooden dock, and the park’s boat ramp before reaching a wooden bridge at a third of a mile.

Fort Yargo State Park Lake Trail

The hike crosses the bridge, catching great views of Fort Yargo’s Marbury Creek Lake from both sides, and catching reflections of the opposite shore in the lake’s rippled surface. Reaching land at the bridge’s end, the hike veers left to follow the Inner Lake Loop through a power line clearing. The trail’s surface is sandy as it hugs the lake shore, and scraggly shrubs and trailing vines blanket the landscape.

The hike reaches a second power line clearing at .8 mile. A quick pause in the sun-drenched, grassy clearing catches views of wildlife, as hawks soar overhead, grasshoppers buzz and butterflies flutter in the grass. The hike turns left, following a dirt road northbound for a short stretch through the clearing. The hike veers left to dart back into the forest, following signs for the Inner Loop.

The hike traces the contours of the lake, exploring a forest of pine and rolling elevation on several small hills. The hike veers left at a fork in the trail at 1.25 miles, and then crosses a wooden bridge at 1.75 miles. The trail reaches an intersection at 1.9 miles, turning left to once again follow the Inner Loop, and crosses over the lake’s dam.

Fort Yargo State Park Lake Trail

Views from the grassy, raised dam are broad and open. The lake’s outlet flows through the dam, exiting in a small stream visible far below in the forest. Reaching the end of the dam, the trail veers left, hiking northbound along the lakeshore and passing Fort Yargo’s cabins high on a hill on the right.

Fort Yargo State Park Lake Trail

This stretch of trail is a particularly great spot to catch a sunset, with the lake’s glassy surface doubling the light show in its reflections. (If you’re chasing the sunset, be sure to leave plenty of time to hike back to the trailhead before dark.)

Reaching the park’s campground area, this hike turns around, doubling back on the same trail to the trailhead. (Alternately, continue hiking through the campgrounds to circle the upper portion of the lake, completing the hike in a loop. The full loop is a great hike, but travels through some of the park’s busier recreation areas… while we’ve done both, we prefer the scenery of this 5-mile out-and-back.) Reaching the park’s picnic area, the adventure completes at 5 miles.

Leave No Trace: Atlanta Trails, Asheville Trails and Trailful are official Leave No Trace partners

Please Remember

Always leave no trace, pack out everything you pack in, and if you see trash, pick it up and pack it out.

Stay on the marked trail, tell someone where you're going, pack safety and wayfinding essentials, and don't rely on a mobile phone to find your way. Please always practice good trail etiquette. And before you go, always check the trailhead kiosk, official maps, and the park or ranger office for notices of changed routes, trail closures, safety information, and restrictions.

Fort Yargo Lake Loop Trail Map, Directions & Details

This map shows our approximate route while exploring this trail, but does not replace an official trail map. Please refer to the official trail map for the most current and accurate route.

Love the trail?

This trail is maintained thanks to the hard work of countless volunteers and donations from supporters of the Friends of Georgia State Parks. Please support them by making a donation or joining a volunteer day. Let's work together to keep these fantastic trails maintained and open for use!

Driving Directions



GPS Coordinates

33.966267, -83.736400     //     N33 57.976 W83 44.184

Elevation Profile

Fort Yargo Lake Loop Trail Elevation Profile

Eric Champlin is a creative director and photographer who loves to explore southeast. He's the co-owner of Trailful Outdoor Co, a locally-owned hiking outfitter shop in Hiawassee in the Georgia mountains near the Appalachian Trail. He’s also the co-founder of Atlanta Trails and Asheville Trails, digital magazines that highlight the South’s best outdoor adventures. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.