GEORGIA: Preserving History at Sawnee Mountain Nature Preserve

Need a short hiking fix? How about a morning out exploring some suburban history in Georgia? Just don’t go in the Fairy Garden…it’s the roughest neighborhood of Fair Folk around.

Is it goat approved? NO! This place doesn’t allow dogs or pets of any kind. Though oddly, it does allow small children, which are sort of the same thing.

How you get there: Google it. The parking lots are huge and easily spotted as you approach.

Time for hike: The distance for this hike is 3.5 miles round trip in a loop on Indian Seats. Don’t believe the trail map – this trail never gets above moderate. There aren’t any strenuous bits for those used to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Best season to do this hike: Any time. Though bare in mind the popularity of the place and the numerous events it holds if you want to avoid hiking the trail with half of Forsyth County.

Trails to Take

If you are parking at the main visitor center, go up to the visitor center, and on the right side of the building is a paved walk way with a ‘hiker sign’ you go down. Then take a sharp right away from the wooden swing and down hill to get on Laurel Trail Spur.

The Tree House – That isn’t in the trees at all

This takes you past the “Tree house” which is really not in the trees but on a raised platform and seems to be not completely finished? Hard to tell, but an interesting building all the same.

Entrance to the terrifying ghetto of winged thugs

Nearby is the “Fairy Garden” – the final proof that Girl Scouts isn’t nearly as cool as Boy Scouts. This is a small, winding trail to nowhere with a selection of bird houses, hot glue fairy houses, and a lot of what my husband and I termed “fairy shacks”, “fairy ghettos”, and “Fairy-ly Terrible Public Housing”. If so inclined, the area suggests you add onto this tent city of supernatural squatters by building some little stone and stick shacks of your own.

North Goldmine Entrance

The Indian Seats trail heads off away from the entrance to the “Fairy Garden” to the left, and climbs up to the seats themselves by a series of switchbacks. Near the Yucca Trail intersection look to your left to see the entrance to a historical gold mine shaft. The southeast and the Appalachians was actually the location of the original gold rush. The quest for gold continued into the modern times, and South Carolina actually had active commercial goldmines until recently.

View from Indian Seats outcropping

Beyond the mine shaft enjoy yet more switch backs until the trail comes up to a final intersection. You want to go left, towards the rocks and obvious overhang at this point. This is the location of “Indian seats” – a series of small but fun stone outcroppings crowning Sawnee Mountain.

When you’re done playing around, go back the way you came, back to that trail intersection, but then go straight. The rest of the way around, just stay on Indian Seats Trail. There is a small interpretive sign after you pass the lower parking lot talking about how the original gold miners on the property worked their claim that is a worth a visit. There is another mine shaft nearby, but in the summer with all the foliage I didn’t notice it.

Sawnee Nature Preserve Map


  1. This place has only one weird rule – no dogs. But kids, crazy relatives, rednecks, and probably parrots should be fine.

In sum: Sometimes you need a short hike to deal with the damage you did on a long hike. This place is the perfect excuse to stretch the soreness out of your legs and spend a relaxing Sunday out with the less enthusiastic members of your family.

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