John’s Mountain Trail – Chattahoochee National Forest

Trail:  John’s Mountain Trail – Walker County, Georgia – Chattahoochee National Forest

Directions:  Directions From Atlanta

General Information:

Terrain:  This trail starts off at the top of a ridgeline.  It follows it for about 1.8 miles then starts a slow descent to the convergence of three trails: Pinhoti, Keown Falls and the Johns Mountain Trail.  At this point the Johns Mountain Trail follows the Pinhoti for a steep one mile 400 foot increase in elevation.

Distance: Approximately a 3.5 mile loop.

Elevation Change: 540 Feet

Family Oriented: Probably the best part of this trail is the observation deck at the beginning of the trail.  If you have young kids or adults that are not in good shape, this trail is not for you.  But, I do recommend you driving to the top just for the view.  Otherwise, this is a nice ridgeline trail with a strenuous end.

Johns Mountain Trail - Observation DeckDogs Allowed: Because this is a part of the Chattahoochee National Forest, I assume that dogs are allowed.  I would advise checking with the local forest ranger before bringing your pet with you.  Your dog must be on a leash.  You must clean up after your animal.

Hiking Fees: No Fee.

About:  This trail is “off the beaten path” to say the least.  In order to get to it, you must take the Forest Service Road 208.  This is a two mile, gravel road.  It can be steep in areas and also slightly washed out.  I would think that a regular sedan would be able to make it to the top, but I would suggest a vehicle with high ground clearance.  Four/All wheel drive is not necessary.

Johns Mountain Trail - Sign PostUpon reaching the top, there is a nice parking area and the observation deck.  I will have to say that this is one of most spectacular unobstructed views that I have seen from any of the Georgia trails.  It is a pastoral scene with a church and fields with cows, as well as other smaller mountains.  The view alone is worth coming up for.

To find the trailhead, go in between the large rocks on the edge of the parking lot.  You will see a communication building.  The trail goes right behind it.

During the first mile and a half, the trail follows the ridgeline.  The trail is lined with beautiful stones.  There are numerous locations with large boulders on the side of the trail.

After the ridgeline section, the trail starts a gradual descent.  The rock formations disappear and it looks more like your typical Georgia hill area flora.  When you reach the low point of the trail, you will see a trail sign where three trails come together; the Pinhoti (meaning Turkey Home) trail – a 335 mile trail across Alabama and Georgia, the Keown Falls Trail and the John’s Mountain Trail.

Johns Mountain Trail - Keown fallsAt this point, if you go to the right, you will see an overlook deck.  This deck is currently in disrepair and you should not walk on it.  But, the Keown Falls Trail travels beside the deck.  You will reach a flight of stone steps built into the rock.  If you take these steps and then turn to the right at the bottom of them, you will see Keown Falls.  It is a cave type structure with the falls flowing over the edge.  The trail does go into the cave, you can stand behind the falls.  These are really wet water falls, so if there has not been any rain for a while, the falls may be just a trickle.  This was the case for our hike.

Going back up the staircase and to the signpost, the John’s Mountain Trail continues on for one more mile.  This part of the trail coincides with the Pinhoti Trail.  This last mile can be grueling.  You are gaining 400 feet in elevation in less than a mile.

Johns Mountain Trail BerriesThe Hike:  Like other trails, we knew we had to get up early and face a long drive to get to the trailhead.  We arrived at the parking lot at 8:30.  The gravel Forest Service Road was in good shape and we had no problem making it to the top in our SUV.

The parking lot was empty.  It was mid-September and the air was a comfortable 59 degrees.  Great hiking weather if you ask me.  There were some high clouds, but a lot of blue sky.  Stepping onto the Observation deck was great.  The view was extremely serene.  A wonderful place to just be.

We bathed in the beauty of the scenery for a few minutes and then headed down the trail.  The leaves had only barely started to change.  I figured that they would be at their peak of color in about six more weeks.  The trail is easy to follow.  The blazes were comprised of white and green rectangles.  The green were plastic and the white were paint marks.

We followed the ridgeline down to the trail post and then went down the Keown Falls Trail to see the falls.  Because it had not rained in over two weeks, the falls was a trickle at best.

We headed back up the staircase and onto the final demanding mile uphill.  The trail was hard, but it made for a good work out.

We made our way one more time to the observation deck to enjoy the view and then headed back home.

Johns Mountain Trail Pinhoti Trail BlazeTips:

  • The last mile of this trail is extremely steep and rises 400 feet in just one mile.  Be prepared.
  • The trail is well blazed, traveled and maintained.
  • The Forest Service Road 208 is a gravel road to the top of the mountain.  A regular sedan is not recommended.  A vehicle with better ground clearance would be a plus.
  • If you are going to enjoy the Keown Falls, then go a day or two after a heavy rain.

 

Hoping your next hike is Relaxing, Safe and Inspiring,

 

Russell

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