Hiking the Pine Mountain Trail
- June 10, 2021
If you’ve checked out Callaway Gardens, golfed at one of the courses nearby or visited the Wild Animal Safari, and you’re still looking for more adventure, consider exploring Pine Mountain Trail within nearby FDR State Park.
While many people associate Warm Springs with the Little White House and the waters that President Franklin D. Roosevelt made popular during his time as US President, the scenic opportunities on Pine Mountain Trail are enough of a draw on their own to the area. Mountain Top Inn & Resort is located in the middle of the FDR State Park and Pine Mountain Trail with trailheads just minutes away.
The Pine Mountain Trail is 23 miles of beauty from point to point. The trail has seven loops, which make for great day hikes, with some of the most beautiful scenery within Georgia’s state park system. On parts of the trail, you will see waterfalls, beaver dams, and lovely views of the valley below. There is no charge to hike the trail, but there is a charge to park, so make sure to either obtain a day pass or bring your Georgia State Park pass if you have one already.
The trail is unusual, in that bicycles, horses, and other pack animals or wheeled equipment are not allowed since they can damage the fragile trails. Horse trails do converge on the Pine Mountain Trail at different points, however, and you can even make plans to bring your own horse.
While it is well-marked, we recommend obtaining a map specific to the trail. There are downloadable apps, available in both Apple App Store and Google Play. The Pine Mountain Trail Association (PMTA) indicates that these map apps may differ from the official map they publish and sell, so be aware that variations may exist. The money from the maps goes toward trail maintenance and associated activities, so it’s likely the most accurate and you support the trail by purchasing this map. You can also open Google Maps while on the trail, to determine exactly where you are if you get lost, as mentioned by the PMTA.
For those itching to see wildlife and habitats outside of traditional park hours and perhaps get some great photographs and once-in-a-lifetime stories, there are also sunrise and night group hikes offered on the trail! The PMTA website regularly publishes scheduled activities that will pique the interests of all age groups.
If you want more time to explore the trails, yes, you can camp on the Pine Mountain Trail! A backcountry permit is required, allowing you to camp in several designated camping locations. To obtain a permit, go to the FDR State Park office during park hours.
There’s also quite a bit that’s unique to the location, much of it stemming from the unique geological makeup of the area. Pine Mountain and the valley near it are an intersection of coastal and Piedmont area. There are few places in the world where you can see unusual types of trees, flowers, and animals in such a small location. Be prepared to see plants and wildlife both native within the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain while on the trail!
After your day hike is complete, take care of your sore muscles: head back to your room at the Mountain Top Inn & Resort to relax in a nice jacuzzi tub! Even better, you can look out on the horizon from the tub, perhaps getting a glimpse of where you were earlier in the day, and reflect on your adventures.