“Eight miles of ups and downs with great views and campsites.”
— Paul Forte
Backcountry camping by permit only. No permit needed for day use.
Features: Birding — Fall Colors — River/Creek — Spring — Views — Waterfall — Wildflowers — Wildlife
Need to Know
Follow the orange blazes; the trail has (slightly inaccurate) mile markers and is most clearly marked in the clockwise direction. Water is available at two major creek crossings (test and purify before using).
The trail is extremely narrow in some areas, especially on the western side. Rocky areas can be slippery, but soil stays compacted during/after most rains with only a couple of soggy spots. Creek crossings are shallow and most likely won't get your feet wet.
Thick layers of fallen leaves and ice can make this trail particularly challenging in fall/winter months. Climbs are intense and views are worth stopping for, so allow at least 2 - 2.5 hours for your first run.
The Gahuti (Cherokee for "Mother Mountain") is a backcountry mountain loop trail located entirely in Fort Mountain State Park. At just under 8 miles with frequent peaks and valleys, it works well as a moderately challenging day run. Four backcountry campsites also make it a great trail for an overnight backpacking trip (reservations are required). The Gahuti Trail connects to the Lake Trail
and overlaps/intersects Trail #301
several times on the southern half of the loop
The trail begins and ends at the Cool Springs Overlook on Old Fort Rd. The majority of the trail is narrow, singletrack compacted soil through the forest with lots of roots and rocks. A portion of the trail runs along an old gravel logging road in the southeast corner near the park entrance.
In either direction, the route begins with sharp descents to the forest floor followed by immediate climbs back up, providing an excellent preview of the biodiversity and rapid elevation changes to come along the rest of the trail. High points offer wide, panoramic views of the mountains and the surrounding area, especially in the fall/winter when the leaves are down. Roughly 2.5 miles from the trailhead (traveling counterclockwise), the trail crosses Goldmine Branch and follows it downhill along several small waterfalls. The trail ends with a steep climb back toward the Cool Springs Overlook, providing spectacular mountain views at both the beginning and end of a challenging trek.
Flora & Fauna
Second growth pine and deciduous forest. Fallen trees along the trail are common, as are black bear sightings. Wear bug repellent in the spring/summer, and watch for hornet activity in the fall.