Best Tent Camping Near Atlanta
Fort Mountain State Park (Chatsworth, Georgia)
Fort Mountain is the site of an unexplained mystery. A strange, serpentine rock wall sits atop the mountain, bounded on both sides by sheer cliffs. The wall, ranging from 2 to 6 feet in height, spans 855 feet and is broken with circular pits at 30-foot intervals, hence the name Fort Mountain. No one is sure who built it, or for what purpose, but it is speculated that the wall was some kind of fortification, or was somehow related to religious activities. Either way, it is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Later, thanks to the land donation of Ivan Allen in 1929, far-sighted Georgians also saw the natural beauty of the area and established a state park.
Surrounded on all sides by the Chattahoochee National Forest, Fort Mountain State Park has two splendid family campgrounds that offer a variety of campsites. Set in a hardwood forest on a rolling mountainside, there are 70 shady RV/tent sites, each with water and electricity. For the more primitive tent camper, four sites with water but no electricity are available. In addition, five walk-in "squirrel's nests" offer a level site for tents only. This campground has a lot of guidelines in regard to RV size for certain campsites, but, unless you like to disregard guidelines, they will work in your favor. If you have any questions, call ahead; reservations are strongly recommended.
Fort Mountain State Park is peaceful and safe. Quiet hours are strictly enforced. The park gates are locked between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. The park office is staffed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. by accommodating park personnel. Three pay phones, three coin laundries, and a dump station provide campers with convenience. Get your supplies in Chatsworth before you drive up the mountain, as there are no nearby stores in the high country.
You'll find plenty to do without ever leaving the park. A 17-acre, spring-fed lake offers fishing and a swimmer's beach complete with bathhouse. Tool around the lake in pedal boats or fishing boats, which are available for rent. For the kids, there is a playground and miniature golf course. Scheduled programs, presented by a park naturalist, are offered Wednesday through Sunday during the summer.
Naturally, Fort Mountain has trails. Near the campground, the 1.2-mile Lake Trail loops the lake. Nearby, the Big Rock Nature Trail offers a cliff-edge view off the mountain, halfway along its half-mile loop. Beyond the park office is the 1.8-mile Old Fort Trail that leads to the 855-foot-long stone wall.
Was the wall a religious site or a defensive barrier to ward off neighboring tribes? Currently, many embrace the wall's possible religious significance. The wall runs east-west, and many speculate that an unknown tribe of sun-worshipping Indians built it. But Cherokee legend points to the wall being erected by a group of light-skinned, "Moon-eyed people" who could see in the dark. The "Moon-eyed people" may have been led by the Welsh explorer Madoc, who supposedly came north from Mobile Bay in the 14th century. Or was it built by Hernando de Soto as a defense against Indian attacks, while he searched for silver and gold? Or was it something else altogether? Explore the wall and decide for yourself.
Take the side trail to the 60-year-old lookout tower, originally built from natural materials during the Great Depression, then refurbished in the 1970s. The mountains of North Georgia and East Tennessee stand out on the horizon. Hike to the overlook deck west of the stone tower and you will see just how far it is down to the Conasauga River valley below. The really adventurous can attempt the 8.2-mile loop trail that encircles the campground. With such a quality campground situated amid spring wildflowers, summer's lush greenery, fall colors, and winter's clarity, it's no mystery that Fort Mountain State Park is a year-round attraction.
To get there, from Chatsworth turn east on GA 52. Drive 7 miles up into the Cohutta Range. Fort Mountain State Park will be on your left.
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Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication