Hike the kid-friendly, scenic Lake Trail loop at Fort Mountain State Park, exploring a shady forest and beautiful views from the lake’s shore.
LOCATION:Fort Mountain State Park near Blue Ridge and Ellijay, Georgia
PACK:our Osprey day pack and our hiking gear list
OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 777 Trails Illustrated Map (find it at Trailful Outdoor Co.)
Fort Mountain State Park’s spacious, soaring mountaintop features stunning views, tumbling waterfalls and mile after mile of horse trails, mountain biking trails, and hiking trails.
Nestled in a mixed pine and hardwood forest, Fort Mountain’s lake reflects the surrounding forest, bordered by the park’s sandy beach, boat docks and campground. The Lake Trail explores a shady forest, a quiet creek valley, a sandy swimming beach and the park’s campground, catching abundant views of the scenic lake throughout the hike. Along the trail’s 1.2 mile stretch, interpretive signs describe the forest’s flora and fauna, making the loop an excellent educational hike for kids. The trail is short, mostly flat, and scenic, making for a great family-family hike, or a fantastic mile-long running loop.
Lake Trail at Fort Mountain State Park: the hike
The hike begins at the park’s lakeside picnic pavilions (view maps and directions), following the blue-blazed Lake Trail and turning right at the lake’s shore. The trail meanders beside the lake, winding through a young forest filled with twisted, gnarly-branched mountain laurel.
The hike passes an intersection with a red-blazed trail at .35 miles, continuing to follow the Lake Trail’s blue blazes. The trail dips elevation into a shady forest, crossing a small creek, Goldmine Branch, over a small wood bridge. The hike returns to the lake’s shore, skirting the park’s campground and veering to the northwest. Small wooden benches offer great views of the lake’s fingerlike inlets.
The trail reaches the lake’s dock at .85 mile before veering around the park’s sandy swimming beach. The dock makes a great place to catch a scenic sunset on a clear night, as the setting sun reflects in the lake’s glassy twilight surface.
After passing the beach, the trail rejoins the lake’s shore, trailing through a mixed pine forest and hiking across the lake’s earthen dam at 1 mile. Looping back to the trailhead and picnic pavilions, the hike completes at 1.2 miles.
Have some daylight left to burn, and up for some more mileage? Check out Fort Mountain’s other fantastic trails for some gorgeous scenery and some seriously epic views.
More Fort Mountain hiking adventures
With over 14 miles of equestrian and hiking trails, more than 25 miles of mountain biking trails, and some of our favorite mountain summit views in all of Georgia, this state park has a ton of options for outdoor adventure. Hike the Fort Mountain Trail, a 1.6-mile loop to the park’s mysterious, serpentine stone wall, a 1930s stone fire tower, and an overlook with incredible, high-elevation views. Or for a longer adventure, hike the park’s 8-mile Gahuti Trail to a tumbling waterfall and some beautiful overlook views.
Too much to do in one day? Stay in one of Fort Mountain’s newly renovated, upscale cottages (read our cabin review for details), and relax in modern-rustic comfort near the lake.
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.
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!
34.756995, -84.710617 // N34 45.407 W84 42.637