The large loop, Indian Seats Trail, is 3.5 miles. Add on extra mileage starting at the Laurel Trail Spur, when you start at the Spot Road Parking lot. Other connecting offshoots are the 0.25 mile Eagle Trail and the 0.3 mile Yucca Trail.
Destination Distance From Downtown
2 of 5 diamonds
The trails are well-groomed and the total elevation gain only reaches about 580 feet, making it a good entry-level trail to run on.
Time To Complete
The trail is 4 miles, so running at an easy pace will take about 1 hour.
If you're hiking, the time reaches to 2 hours, depending on your speed.
Sawnee Mountain Preserve in Cumming, Georgia is an easy, 3.5 mile loop trail that offers a beautiful overlook of the distant North Georgia mountains. The trail winds through the sprawling acreage of the preserve, and with minimal elevation and well-groomed trails, it makes for a perfect beginner trail run. The main trail is the Indian Seats Trail, a 3.5 mile loop, but there are two offshoots, the Eagle Trail and Yucca Trail. Sawnee Mountain is easy to navigate- all trails connect together and traverse the mountainside and its humble ridgelines.
What Makes It Great
The preserve is located between the Piedmont and foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, at 1,968 feet it is one of the highest peaks near Atlanta, 300 feet taller than Stone Mountain. Loop trails always make time go by faster, and the highlight of the trail, Indian Seats Observation Deck, is about 3 miles into the hike. The scenic overlook is rewarding, offering views of the North Georgia Mountains.
The overlook path branches from the main Indian Seats Trail, and opens into the mountainside's small boulderfield. At the top of the overlook's hill is the wooden Observation Deck which includes an informational plaque highlighting the distant mountains. According to the plaque, the view is 127 degrees; due North is Amicalola Falls and Springer Mountain, to the East are the stately bumps of Blood Mountain and Brasstown Bald, and to the West is Pine Log Mountain and Cartersville.
Another surprise along the trail is the old mine shaft, dug out from the 1829 gold rush. Now it looks like an ominous cave opening as the hole opens from the side of one of the mountain's ridges. Bars prevent you from exploring, but this shaft is fun to look inside.
Who is Going to Love It
For trail running, it's hard to find a smoother trail than Sawnee Mountain. The terrain is predominantly red clay and sand, with only a few technical roots and rocky sections on the higher elevations. The trail is double-wide, offering plenty of space to navigate between the day hikers. Max elevation gain is around 580 feet, mainly from the gradual climbs along the ridgelines. You'll find a few serpentine turns, but for the most part, the trail is predictable and offers plenty of stable footing.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Sawnee Mountain Preserve is West of SR 400, about 5 miles off Exit 16, Pilgrim Mill Road. From there, country roads guide you around the mountain to the parking lot.
It's recommended to Park off Spot Road where the Visitor Center is located. The Visitor Center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Parking is free, and there are indoor bathroom facilities. Note that no dogs are allowed on these trails.
The trails are open from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. March through October, and 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. November through February.