Fort Mountain derives its name from an ancient ~865 foot-long rock wall which stands near the highest point of the mountain. The mountain lies on the southwestern edge of the Southern Appalachian range, and melds into the Ridge and Valley Province giving it a wide variety of habitat types and geological diversity. Old gold mines, as well as active talc mines, are in the vicinity. Trails in the area vary from the short walk to the summit and along the ancient 900' stone wall from which the mountain got its name, to the 8.2 mile Gahuti Backcountry Trail with campsites for backpackers. There are five marked trails on the mountain that vary in length and difficulty.
The mountain is located in the Chattahoochee National Forest close to the Cohutta Wilderness Area
History of the State Park
There is much speculation as to who the builders were and their purpose in building the stone wall near the summit of this mountain. At its highest point, it measures seven feet, but generally rises between two or three feet, though it is believed that it used to be taller. There are twenty-nine pits scattered fairly regularly along the length of the wall with the wings of a gateway at one point. Estimates vary as to the length of the wall with some guidebooks stating the wall is 865' while others say over 950'. Regardless, it is of remarkable length, especially considering that many of the rocks appear to be non-native and brought in from elsewhere.
One of the most prominent theories is that it was built by the Woodland Indians around 500 C.E. As the wall is aligned to the east-west, it would result in an alignment at sunrise and sunset at the solar equinox in both spring and fall. There are ceremonial centers somewhat similar to this one built by the Woodland Indians at Old Stone Fort, Tennessee, and Rock Eagle Mound in Putnam County, Georgia. The Woodland Indians occupied the southeast for several centuries B.C.E. to about 900 C.E.
A less probable explanation attributed the wall to a legendary Welsh Prince named Medoc (alternative spellings include Madoc and Madawg). According to legend, he sailed into Mobile, Alabama in 1170 C.E., and then worked his way toward the Fort Mountain vicinity. There is not much else known about Medoc except that his name is vaguely linked to several petroglyphs in other parts of the southeast.
An even more improbable theory is that it was built by Hernando De Soto as a defensive structure. This theory has been discounted as De Soto was only in this area of Georgia for approximately two weeks, and would not have the time to build so large a structure in the time he was here.
A portion of Fort Mountain State Park's 3,286 acres was donated to the State of Georgia in 1934 by former Atlanta mayor, Ivan Allen Sr., for the preservation of the stone wall and for the public.
Fort Mountain State Park is located off of Highway 52 in northern Georgia. There are two ways to approach the entrance, either from the East to the East or from Chatsworth to the West.
With the excellent resources of the various online mapping websites, it might be easier to simply click this link
and then enter your information as to where you will be coming from
Once at the entrance of the park, follow the signs for the Cool Springs Overlook parking lot. The overlook offers a spectacular view of the valley below. Follow the trail marked with orange blazes to the red blazes. Following the red blazes will take you to the summit. Alternatively, following the yellow blazes will skirt you around the mountain to another overlook. From here, you can intersect with a trail that will take you to the summit.
Alternatively, go a short distance further and park at the parking lot located at the end of the road. Parking here will place you directly on the most popular trail in the park, the Old Fort Loop Trail that leads to the ancient stone wall. At the beginning of the trail, a large metal plaque prepared by the Georgia Deparment of State Parks tells of the history of the mountain. Follow the trail to the stone walls, and then follow the red blazed trail to the tower at the summit. The total distance if one walks to directly to the summit (one-way) is 1.2 miles. There are several other trails around the summit offering views of other overlooks that can increase that distance.
There is a $3.00 parking/entrance fee for the park. Alternatively, there is a an annual pass for all of the state parks in Georgia available for $45.00.
There are several mountain biking trails located around the park (though not at the summit), and there is an additional fee of $2.00 to do that.
There are several camping spots located around the park, including primitive camps and cottages. They are available to be reserved. To do so, please call the reservations number (800) 864-727. Alternatively, you can make a reservation over the web.
The link is located here
. Alternatively, there are links to make reservations off of the main park webpage
External LinksOfficial Contact Information for the State Park
Fort Mountain State Park
181 Fort Mountain Park Rd
Chatsworth , GA 30705
Reservations (800) 864-7275
Park (706) 695-2621
Fort Mountain State Park: Official Web Page
Provided by weather.com
More on Prince Madoc
A national Geographic article on Prince Madoc can be found here
article on Madoc can be found here
More on Woodland Indians
I'm certain there must be some authoritative links to more information about the Woodland Indians. If people have recommendations for such, I would appreciate knowing about them.
In the meanwhile, here is one I thought useful.
In Case of Emergency
While it is always hoped that this information is never needed, it is always handy.
Murray County Hospital: 706-695-4564
Ranger's Residence: 706-695-6027 or 706-695-6814
To get to the hospital: Make a right out of the park gate. At the first traffic light in Chatsworth (roughly 8 miles away), turn right on highway 411 North. At the intersection of 411 and 76 turn left at Hardees ontp 76/52. Go for one mile and follow the sign into the hospital.