Mount Oglethorpe has major historical significance. It served as the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail from 1937 - 1958. In 1958, development around the mountain forced the relocation of the trail end 20 miles northeast to its current location, Springer Mountain. The mountain is named for James Oglethorpe, who founded Savannah and the colony of Georgia in 1733. A monument to James Oglethorpe was originally on the peak. It has since been moved to the nearby community of Jasper.
You can drive to within about 0.5 miles of the peak before reaching a barrier. From there, it is an easy hike with modest elevation gain up a gravel road to the summit. The summit is covered with a fenced in area containing several communication towers. Just to the south of the summit is a wooden observation deck. This gives tremendous views to the south on a clear day. The Atlanta skyline was visible on the day of our visit, at a distance of at least 60 miles.
I am not very familiar with the area. I will appreciate comments and corrections to incorporate into this page. Thanks.
Getting there is much of the challenge and half the fun. See red tape below.
From the south: Take GA Route 53 to Steve Tate Road. Drive north until you reach the North (second) entrance of the Big Canoe Resort. Proceed through the gate. Take Wilderness Trail W for about 2 miles. Note the great view of Mt. Oglethorpe near the Lake Petit dam. This photo is taken from near the dam.
After about 2 miles, turn left on Petit Ridge Drive. Continue for about 1.7 miles. Turn left on Sanderlin Mountain Dr. Continue for about 1.1 miles. Continue straight for about 0.3 miles on Deer Run Ridge. Park on the side of the road before you get to the barrier. Note: These are all paved roads until this point. Watch the poison ivy in the woods as you walk around the barrier! Proceed about 100 yards to the road junction. Turn left at the junction and follow the gravel road about 0.5 miles to the summit. You'll pass a second barrier on the gravel road.
From the north (Thanks, Adriana G): Mt Oglethorpe is much more easily accessible via Monument Road which, unlike Big Canoe is not gated. Take Ga 136 from Jasper or 52 to 136 from Dawsonville to Monument Rd. go south for about 2+ miles and then it becomes a gravel road. At the end of the gravel road is a gate stating it is private and as of November 2011, specifically says "No hikers". ( Adriana recently bought a house off of Monument Rd. and plan to send the owner a note requesting permission to go to the summit). Park on the side of the road. Follow the gravel road about 0.5 miles beyond the barrier to the summit. Update 4/30/14 - summit is now public land and open!
There are some very nice hiking trails in the Dawson Wildlife Management area accessed from Monument Rd. with 4 waterfalls on Falls Creek. As of January 2012 access requires a GORP pass which must be purchased in advance. They can be bought online or at retailers http://www.georgiawildlife.com/Georgia-Outdoor-Recreational-Pass.
(Note-Google Maps show the summit to be on Sourwood Circle. From looking at county property tax records it appears that is incorrect. It is at the end of Monument Road.)
Update (4/30/14): Just a quick status update. Eagle's Rest at the end of Monument road is now open. Mountain Stewards have made two very nice walking paths. The shortest one is a 1/2 mile easy walk around the summit. The second path, which is partially completed, will be 2 miles long and more challenging. It is truly a place of rest and meditation. There is currently a deck on the property that faces east. With financial support from the community they plan to add 3 more observation platforms, toilets and an outdoor pavilion/classroom. There are tentative plans for a Summer Solstice celebration on June 21, 2014
http://www.mtoglethorpe.org for details.
This was filmed on Easter Sunday 2014.
Well, the red tape is rather substantial from the south. You either have to be a resident or know one. An option exists where you could park at the shopping center on Steve Tate Road (just south of the North Gate), and then either head in via foot or bike. The Big Canoe Resort is an extensive development of vacation homes. For being heavily developed I thought it is very tastefully done with a lot of natural screen hiding the homes and natural areas preserved.
Wikipedia Entry: Here
If you gain access to Big Canoe, there is a delightful trail up Disharoon Creek near the base of the mountain. This contains some fine waterfalls.
These images are of Lower and Upper Disharoon Falls.