Hawk Mountain can be reached a variety of ways, but provides a neat side-trip for hikers on the Appalachian Trail, especially those staying at Hawk Mountain Shelter. The views from the summit of Hawk Mountain are somewhat shrouded in trees, but still give enough sense of the lovely mountain scenery surrounding the peak.
To the southeast of Hawk Mountain is an interesting field (old landing zone?) and the summit bears the large characters “G 23,” presumably for use in aviation navigation at one time. It is said by SP member WoundedKnee (and others) that this mountain is often used by Army Rangers for training excercises, though the exact purpose of the "G 23" remains an unconfirmed mystery right now.
USGS Quad: Noontootla
Trails Illustrated Map: #777 Springer & Cohutta Mountains
Rank: 52nd highest peak in Georgia
Prominence: 480 feet
Rank & Prominence Source: Lists of John
Getting There & Route Information
From the intersection of the Appalachian Trail and the side-trail to Hawk Mountain shelter, take a less well-used but obvious social trail trending south-southwest from the AT. The trail soon begins ascending an un-named gully. The gully will carry you to a level area where you’ll intersect with a dirt road. (A large open field will be visible ahead and to your left as you exit the gully.) Briefly follow the dirt road to the foot of Hawk Mountain. Here you will leave the road and ascend a solid social trail to the top. (Alternately, you could follow the dirt road to the summit, but this road option is less direct.) The Hawk Mountain summit features some grassy open areas and a giant “G 23” aviation navigational aid, but is otherwise surrounded by a thin veil of trees.
Distance: About 1 mile roundtrip
Elevation Gain: Roughly 500 vertical feet
With the right vehicle and the right map and knowledge of Georgia back roads, one can drive a 4x4 to the summit of Hawk Mountain if this is your cup of tea. However, for those already on the AT, the side-trip to the summit of Hawk Mountain is less than a 1 mile round trip with about 500 feet of elevation gain. Be forewarned that road closures / gating may offer up some navigation surprises.
There is no red tape that I’m aware of in this part of the Chattahoochee National Forest.
Camping & Lodging
AT Backpacking: The nearest Appalachian Trail shelter to Hawk Mountain is the appropriately named Hawk Mountain Shelter! The shelter is within one trail mile of the summit of Hawk Mountain.
Len Foote Hike Inn: This 20-room eco lodge provides small rooms with one 2-level bunk bed (adjoining rooms available), a clean bathhouse with running water and composting toilets, several comfortable common/social areas (inside and out) and delightful meals cooked by talented staff. Visit this site (www.hike-inn.com) to learn more.
Amicalola Falls State Park Lodge: The Georgia Department of Natural Resources hosts a 56-room lodge within Amicalola Falls State Park. Visit this site (http://www.amicalolafalls.com/) for more details.
Dahlonega: A decent variety of lodging options can be found in nearby Dahlonega, GA, about 19 miles from the Amacalola Falls State Park entrance. Visit this Trip Advisor page for details.
Dawsonville: Dawsonville, Georgia, is only 16 miles away from the entrance to Amacalola Falls State Park. Visit this Trip Advisor page for details.
Weather & Seasons
Spring and Fall are considered by many the most pleasant time to visit the Southern Appalachians.
Spring: In the Spring, daytime temperatures and warm and evenings are cool while the flowering shrubs are in bloom and the waterfalls are running. Water sources such as springs are most reliable this time of year.
Fall: In the fall, the broadleaf deciduous trees put on a bright display of autumn color, though waterfalls may not be as impressive and springs and other water sources less reliable. The air is cooler and crisper and visibility should be prime for long-range views.
Summers in this part of the country can be oppressively hot and humid and even the higher elevation and ample tree cover will not keep the hiker from feeling overheated, sticky and dirty. High humidity and haze mean limited long-range vistas, though it is in summer that the term “temperate rainforest” will have the most meaning to and be most appreciated by the visitor.
Winters in the South Appalachians can range from cool and damp to cold and severe with bouts of deep snow following major storms. In other words, while this range may be relatively low in elevation and southern in latitude, mountains are still mountains and can bring unpredictable and potentially dangerous weather.