Saturday, April 20, 2013

Fort Mountain State Park, Georgia

It had been a while since I'd been to Fort Mountain State Park in Georgia so I had the urge to go check it out again when the opportunity presented. Fort Mountain is just outside Chattsworth, Georgia and is one of the more prominent peaks of the Cohutta Mountains, one of the nearby mountain ranges to my home just outside the city limits of Ringgold. In fact Fort Mountain is actually visible from just outside Ringgold if you get into the right position along Interstate 75. It can be seen peaking at you through the Ringgold Gap. Although the summit is only 2850 feet above sea level, it really stands out since it has a lot of open air around it. It's one of my favorite mountains to visit because it has something of the feel of being on an island, looking over a sea of green forest and pastures below.

Looking roughly northward where the Cohutta Mountains end. The mountains are mottled with the pale greens of early Spring.

A view along the side of Fort Mountain from an overlook on a promontory. This was reached by a short hike on a very well-beaten trail.

There is a nice network of trails on top of the mountain. I have hiked everything up there at one time or another except for the sections of the long Pinhoti Trail that cross over the mountain. There is a small cascade on a creek that is surprisingly large for being on a mountain top. We just had some heavy rains the preceding week so the creek was flowing strongly.

I'm pretty disappointed with my camera. This was unbelievably beautiful in person. That's why you have to go on the adventure, because a photo is just not the same!
Another smaller side creek that we hiked over.

We also made sure to take time to visit the mountain's namesake stone "fort" at the crest of the mountain. This is a structure of unknown origin but is reported in Cherokee legends to have been constructed in ancient times by white people. Historians have speculated that this could have been the people of Prince Madoc's expeditions to the new world in the 1100s. This expedition is widely reported in historical chronicles but is semi-legendary so no one really knows for sure whether or not it is true. Alternative theories speculate that it was created by other native peoples. At any rate, the stone fort has crumbled down into just a pile of field stone and frankly is not very photogenic, although it is thought provoking.

An example of the some of the ruins on the mountain top.

There is an old stone masonry tower built by the Civilian Conservation Corps on top of the mountain that is a point of interest, although climbing the tower is no longer allowed and it is visibly falling apart. I visited the park sometime around 2002 and was able to climb it at that time, but it had been closed within just a couple of years when I went back with the Chattanooga Hiking Club around 2004 so probably I was among the last to climb it. As I recall, not much could be seen from up there anyway due to the trees having grown up.

The old CCC tower from the 1930s, now boarded shut and the lower stairs removed. I got to hike up it in 2002 but it has since been closed.

Fort Mountain remains a point of interest to me, with good facilities, plenty of hiking trails, and good scenery in every direction. It's a fascinating little island in the sky hanging over North Georgia.

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