Weekend Backpacker: Atlanta
Fort Mountain State Park
181 Fort Mountain Park Road
Chatsworth, GA 30705
An ancient rock wall of unknown origin is the source of this park's name. This mysterious wall snakes 855 feet across the southern face of the mountain's crest. It is bordered on both sides by sheer cliffs. There is a legend that the wall was built in the 12th century by the Welsh Prince Madoc and his colonists as protection against the local Native Americans.
Recommended trip: Gahuti Backcountry Trail. While the park offers a number of short day hikes, including a 1.8-mile trail to the legendary rock wall, backpackers will appreciate this 8.2-mile backcountry loop, which offers three primitive campsites spaced along the trail. It winds along the ravines, spur ridges, and slopes of Fort and Cohutta Mountains.
Getting there: From Atlanta, take Interstate 75 north to Exit 136 and take US 76 12 miles to Chatsworth. In Chatsworth, follow GA 52 east seven miles to the park.
Permit information: You can purchase backcountry permits at the park office. There is also a state park user's fee required to park in the park.
Maps: Maps of the park's trails can be picked up at the park office.
Practical information: Because of the mountainous terrain, users tend to rate this hike moderate to strenuous. Boots with appropriate ankle support are a good idea. As with all of Georgia's state parks, Fort Mountain offers family campsites with water and electricity. There are also walk-in sites and camping platforms available without electricity or water. The park also rents cottages. Swimming and fishing are allowed at Fort Mountain's 17-acre lake.
Recommended guides: The Hiking Trails of north Georgia by Tim Homan (Peachtree) is an excellent reference for this hike and others in the state parks of north Georgia.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication