- Dacey Orr For the AJC
The weather is cooling off and trees are beginning to change color, so it's only natural that many Atlanta residents are looking to the nearby mountains for a different kind of getaway than the sunny beaches they enjoyed all summer. For those who know the value of a good view, here are five of the best mountain views in Georgia.
Fort Mountain State Park
181 Fort Mountain State Park Road, Chatsworth. 706-422-1932. gastateparks.org/fortmountain
This 3,712-acre state park offers views ranging from scenic lakes to wild blueberry thickets, and the activities don't disappoint either. Ride up the mountain on horseback or hike the trails and explore the ancient rock wall. Hike up the mountain and down into the overlook for an expansive view of the surrounding mountains and greenery. For an easier hike (or a second destination on your trip), try the short, 1.2-mile hike on the Lake Trail, which is a low-key trek perfect for beginners that offers peaceful aquatic views.
Bartram Trail to Rabun Bald Summit
Kelsey Mountain Road, Dillard.
Named for William Bartram, a naturalist who followed this trail in the late 1700s, there's a reason the Bartram Trail has been exhilarating outdoorsmen since before the United States even declared independence. One facet of this trail's enduring popularity is Rabun Bald, Georgia's second-tallest mountain and a beautiful view from all angles.
Sawnee Mountain Preserve 4075 Spot Road, Cumming. 770-781-2217. sawneemountain.org
Not far from Atlanta are the pristine views at the Indian Seats at Sawnee Mountain Preserve, and the view of the Blue Ridge Mountains that will reward hikers is well worth the moderate hike. Get a glimpse of history at the abandoned mine before immersing yourself in the sights at the overlook, which range from lush valleys, vibrant trees and looming mountain ranges.
Black Rock Mountain State Park
3085 Black Rock Mountain Pkwy., Mountain City. 706-746-2141. gastateparks.org/blackrockmountain
Boasting an altitude of 3,640 feet, Black Rock Mountain is Georgia's highest state park — a benefit that reveals itself not only in its panoramic views, but also its temperate climate, even when the rest of Georgia is swelteringly hot. You'll find overlooks on the side of the road as well as at the summit of this 2.2-mile hike. Add a few states to your done-that list in one fell swoop with the park's Tri-State Hike, which takes place on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and hits Tennessee and North Carolina in addition to Georgia.
3678 Helen Highway, Cleveland. 706-865-6546.
Get a feel for the Appalachians with this Georgia park at the foothills, which holds spectacular views throughout the four-mile hike up the mountain. Those who wish to do a shorter hike will still come away with scenic memories, but a trek to the top will find a rock building used to shelter hikers on the Appalachian Trail and a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains.