Atlanta, GA: Sawnee Mountain Preserve

Only 20 miles north of Atlanta, Sawnee Mountain Preserve offers a maze of wooded trails that wander past abandoned gold mines to overlooks of Blue Ridge peaks.
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Only 20 miles north of Atlanta, Sawnee Mountain Preserve offers a maze of wooded trails that wander past abandoned gold mines to overlooks of Blue Ridge peaks.

This 3.1-mile loop in Sawnee Mountain Preserve is just one option available to day hikers, trail runners, climbers, and families out for a day in the woods. Starting from a recently refurbished trailhead area, this clockwise loop wanders west to pick up the south end of the Laurel Trail. Wander past an abandoned gold mine shaft at the bottom of the loop—one of several scattered throughout the preserve—before starting a gentle climb up to the playground at the Outdoor Education Center near the top of the loop.
Continuing east, the Laurel Trail skirts the northern contours of the ridge under cover of hickory and oak before picking up the Indian Seats Trail on the approach to the loop’s two overlooks (and Indian Seats climbing access). Bring binoculars to savor superb northward views of Blue Ridge peaks before following the trail 0.8 mile south back to the trailhead.
-Mapped by Scott Sanders

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 5.0

Waypoints

SAW001

Location: 34.2451401, -84.1388397

Trailhead and parking lot: Pick up the asphalt path next to the restrooms, heading past the playground and picnic areas, and veering left at the first split in the trail just ahead.

SAW002

Location: 34.2453461, -84.1396866

Continue straight @ 4-way intersection. There are Sawnee Mountain trail maps available here.

SAW003

Location: 34.2453131, -84.1401029

Turn left @ 3-way junction.

SAW004

Location: 34.2449184, -84.1402075

Continue bearing left @ 3-way intersection.

SAW005

Location: 34.2447189, -84.1397542

Go right @-3-way intersection.

SAW006

Location: 34.2445193, -84.140363

Bear right @ Y-junction for a short detour to an abandoned gold mining shaft on the left side of the trail. U-turn back to this waypoint and bear right to continue heading west on the Laurel Trail.

SAW007

Location: 34.2525063, -84.1376877

Turn left @ 3-way intersection, and continue north to the treehouse/gazebo at the Future Outdoor Education Center. Let the kids play around a bit, and then return to this junction and turn left to continue hiking east on the Laurel Trail.

SAW008

Location: 34.2490889, -84.1411597

Turn left @ 3-way intersection, continuing on the Indian Seats Trail.

SAW009

Location: 34.2500245, -84.1350549

Continue straight, passing a scenic viewpoint of the north Georgian mountains.

SAW010

Location: 34.2502861, -84.1345139

Arrive at a wooden observation deck with a display identifying the surrounding mountains. Retrace steps back to Waypoint 9 and turn left @ the 3-way intersection.

SAW011

Location: 34.247027, -84.1375762

Turn left @ 3-way intersection.

SAW 012

Location: 34.2463596, -84.1383165

Turn left @ 3-way intersection, heading back through the picnic area and playground area to the trailhead.

Trailhead

Location: 34.2451468, -84.1387939

Restrooms, trail information, a playground and a picnic area accompany the trailhead. © Scott Sanders

Abandoned Gold Mine

Location: 34.2446767, -84.140473

One of several abandoned gold mine pits in the Preserve. © Scott Sanders

Outdoor Education Center

Location: 34.2531882, -84.1382656

The Sawnee Mountain Preserve Future Outdoor Education Center has a treehouse/gazebo that the kids can play around on. © Scott Sanders

Indian Seats Trail

Location: 34.2478518, -84.1395235

Trails at the Sawnee Mountain Preserve are well groomed, wide, and gently sloping. © Scott Sanders

Overlook

Location: 34.2500179, -84.1350335

The Blue Ridge Range can be seen to the north. © Scott Sanders

Above the Trees

Location: 34.2502861, -84.1344783

© Scott Sanders