After a 1.5 downhill on the park road, you hit the dirt for eleven switchbacks downhill to very near the base of the mountain; swooping curves, boulder fields, and then a steep climb out past a small stream and falls. Excellent views. Trail can be connected to others for more distance if you still have energy left.
From Atlanta, take I-75 North to exit 126 and Hwy 411; stay on 411 to Chatsworth and turn right on Hwy 52 East for 8 miles. Fort Mountain State Park is on the left at the top of the mountain. Check in at the park office for permits and a map.
Summary: Took this trail with my son....From the parking area to the cool spring overlook was 90% downhill - great riding. Once you arrive at the overlook begins the descent down the switchbacks. Steep/rocky/hairpin turns navigated between plants that sting when your leg brushes them. Scenery was beutifull, I found myself stopping to just, "take it in". Just past the desent, you can hear the faint sound of rushing water. The trail winds its way beside the creek below slowly getting steeper "pedaling is possible/ but strenuious". We converged with the creek to see a fantastick display of stairstepping waterfalls. Good time for a rest..... short but steep switchbacks followed as we continued- bikes were pushed up those. shorlty after we found ourselves in a canopy of forest with a small stream to our left. Our legs burning we crossed the sream via a small wood bridge and found another mild to steep path that we must forge. The last leg of our journey was a test of endurance (for both of us). This trail will test your skill... however, can be conquered by the "Non Professional". You will sweat- I promise.
Recommended Route: Trail maps are given at the welcome center. Permits cost us 3 bucks each. Park entrance fee was 5 bucks. routes are clearly marked. 7/2012
Summary: This is a review of the Cool Springs trail (302) only, which intercepts the larger, more challenging (and more fun) East-West Loop (301). I have to say I hated this trail. Let me explain: In February, a friend and I rode East-West loop and I loved it, although it was one of the more challenging trails in North Georgia.
Cool Springs starts with 2 mile windy, twisty downhill that is all rocks. Literally, it was like riding a rock garden all the way down, but the rocks were not embedded in the ground but were instead loose, preventing me from gathering any safe speed. In addition, several sections were overgrown with stingy needle plants, and ungroomed, which is a shame considering you pay 2 dollars for a bike permit, in addition to 3 dollar parking pass. So at the bottom of a very "un-fun" downhill you intercept East-West Loop, but at the last part of the loop wich is all uphill. I don't mind ascending, providing I have a good payoff, or the intial downhill is fun. Near the top, I took a left at the fork which puts you on 301/303 (Goldmine) loop. Here the trail redeemed itself somewhat but only for a short period where I was then dumped onto 303 only which was paved road for about a mile. I could have taken 301, but would have to ride the entire loop and I have to meet some hikers who came up with me.
Anyway, to summarize, if you go to Fort Mountain, budget the time and energy to ride East-West loop and forego Coolsprings. East-West is fun, challenging and worth the last 2.5 miles ascent. Be sure to have tires with strong sidewalls as I ripped a sidewall during my ride.
Recommended Route: East-West Loop (rte 301)
Review Date June 17, 2002
Overall Rating 4 of 5
Ridden Trail: Every few months
Reviewed by: ScubaCruz
, from Canton, GA
Summary: What a difference a year or so of steady riding makes! A little over a year ago and 20lbs more than today, road this ride, Cool Springs + Gold Mine, with friends, 12 miles. The climb up Cool Springs kick by butt. Stopped every 50 yrds to breath, rest and try again to get up the hill. Yesterday, riding it with my wife (her first time), I actually road up ahead of her, then back down past her and up the tough sections a second time! She doesn't mind this, as she feels guilty "making" me ride slow rides with her. So, if I can get in the extra stuff, she's happy for me! She did great for her first time up Cool Springs, stopping when necessary, but always continuing forward with no complaints. Can't wait to see her back on this trail in year! What a great feeling to see improvement! The ride hasn't changed but the ability to enjoy it has. From the the bike parking lot, 302 is a fast downhill run to a road crossing, then some climbing back to the road again. At this road crossing, take a minute to walk 100 ft to the overlook. Great bowl view of mountains. Leaving the overlook/road the steep mile of switchbacks begins. Stay ON the brakes and IN control as the rain has loosened tons of babyhead rocks, which will roll with you if you get them started! When you reach a "T" section at a gravel road, you have another 1/2 mile lightly graveled run down to your right. Watch for the "->" right turn sign before you come along side the creek, well marked turn. At the start of the creek (Cool Springs), the elevation is 1300ft. 2 1/2 miles later, it will be 2190ft. Enjoy the uphill climb. This year, I dabbed twice before the unrideable switchbacks, 1/2 mile point. Second run up that 1/2 mile, only one dab! Funny thing about women, they see the world differently than men. Well, maybe it shouldn't be a "women vs men," comparison, just a "people vs people" observation. Oh well, at the first wooden bridge, 2 1/2 miles up from bottom of creek, during a Powerbar break, my wife tells me of all the flowers in bloom, the big centipedes, the many spiders and the big snails, all she observed on her ride up. Me, I didn't see any of those things. Though, I could tell you of the 2 three inch rocks and the 4 roots in row I road over twice. Different views, different enjoyments of the same ride! Back to the trail, from the wooden bridge, the trail continues at a steep grade for another mile. It then begins to level out. At about 5 miles, from the parking lot start, watch for a left turn marked as 301 & 303 (East West and Gold Mine). Take this left to add the Gold Mine (303) to make the 12 mile combined loop. Steep little climb to a road crossing, followed by fast downhills for then next 3 miles. A few short ups and turns and two really steep turn downs, which are marked with double down arrows. When trail comes to paved road, follow 303 signs to the right, down the road. FYI - The trail that continues across the road is 301, the difficult East West trail. Use caution going down the paved road; watch for cars, hikers and rangers! When you reach the picnic and camping area, watch for trail 303 entrance on the left. It's where the two campground roads cross the main road. From there, you have about a mile to go with over 400ft of elevation to gain! Again, last year, this was a tough climb. Yesterday, it was a blast to ride up, down and back up it again! Do yourself the favor and ride 3 loops around the parking area to allow for cool down for 10 to 15 minute, then stretch your calves, quads and hamstrings! You're muscles will thank you tomorrow! Enjoy the lake afterwards! Come back again to see how much you've improved by just riding and riding and riding some more! Note: All of the trail is double track. Reason is, the park service travels the road with ATVs for safety to you and others! But, it rides like wide singletrack. If not for this, I would give all of the Ft Mtn trails a whopping 5 stars! ScubaCruz
Recommended Route: Well marked. Follow the signs. (301 - East West - difficult 14 miles, 302 - Cool Springs - advanced 7 miles, 303 - Gold Mine - beginner 6 miles) Combine Cool Springs and Gold Mine for good 12 mile ride.
Review Date May 12, 2001
Overall Rating 4 of 5
Ridden Trail: Ridden Once
Reviewed by: Carl Jackson
, from Alpharetta
Summary: What a ride! Make sure you are well hydrated. The begining is almost all downhill, with a lot of switchbacks and large rocks. Like everyone else said check your brakes. They will get a heck of a workout. The hill at the end is pretty tough, probably the toughest I have been on. The creek view that skirts the hill is very neat with large boulders, and falls. Have fun!
Recommended Route: Any
Other recommended trails in the same area: Bull mtn, Jake mtn, Blankets creek
Review Date February 12, 2001
Overall Rating 4 of 5
Ridden Trail: Ridden Once
Reviewed by: chad
, from calhoun
Summary: killer down hill real rocky with sharp switch backs, good front brake required. pretty good size rocks, make sure you trust your self to be clipped in on this one. the up hill is a killer, but managable--would have been better if drier. the water fall is really nice.
Other recommended trails in the same area: chestnut mtn at the ocoee white water center.