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Sawnee Mountain preserve visitor center in Cumming Ga.

Sawnee Mountain Stands! For thousands of years the mountain we call Sawnee has stood as a highly visible landmark and an anchor to inhabitants of North Georgia. It is arguably the southernmost summit in the Blue Ridge range, making it the first link in the Appalachian chain, which reaches all the way to Maine.

On the eastern ridge, runoff from boulders balanced on a rock outcropping slowly carved three uniform depressions in the stone. Those boulders eventually weathered, split and toppled down the north face, exposing what we now call the Indian Seats. The seats and the adjacent natural clearing may have served some ceremonial purpose for Native American inhabitants (Woodlands culture, later replaced by Mississippian, Muscogean, Creek and Cherokee) dating as far back as c. 500 B.C.E.

When white settlers entered the area in the early 1800’s, a minor chief of the Cherokee Nation welcomed them. A skilled carpenter and farmer, Sawnee helped them build their homes in the area around present-day Cumming. Settlers agreed that Sawnee was one of the kindest and most giving people they had ever known. When he died, the grateful local citizens named the mountain in his memory.

Even before the major strike at Auraria in 1829, gold had been discovered all over them thar hills and at several sites in present day Forsyth County. As late as the early 1900s, white settlers sunk pits and dug caves all over Sawnee Mountain looking for the yellow metal. The only promising sites were along the south face of the eastern ridge, but mining efforts were eventually abandoned because of the enormous cost of extracting the gold.

As the county grew, Sawnee Mountain remained virtually untouched by development until AT&T built a long line microwave transmission tower in the 1950s. Later, the Barker family built a home on the saddle of the west summit, and several more homes were eventually built.

Sawnee Mountain has survived fires, tornadoes, timber clearing, development and the search for gold. In the midst of whirlwind growth, Sawnee stands unchanged -- preserved for county residents and visitors to enjoy for generations to come.

Hike the Trails

There are over 3 miles of interconnected natural surface trails on Sawnee Mountain. Currently there are two trail heads with parking; one at 2500 Bettis Tribble Gap Road and one at the new Visitor Center located at 4075 Spot Road. Gates to the parking areas are open from 8:00a - dark. See above for our trail map. Hikers can choose the gentler Yucca Trail, the panoramic Indian Seats Trail or the challenging Laurel Trail. Trails are for foot traffic only! Dogs and horses are not allowed. Please help keep the scenic beauty of these trails by packing-out what you pack-in and picking up your trash when you leave. Leave only footprints, take only pictures and kill only time.
click to enlarge.

Environmental Education

IWe offer school and group classes year round as well as public programs. Classes may range from plant identification, art or gardening to wildlife studies, geology or local history. Programs have both indoor and outdoor components and take advantage of the resources in our classroom/laboratory and resource library.

Public Programs
Nature hikes, workshops and parent-tot classes are just some examples of our public programs. Browse our Calendar of Events page for current offerings.

School & Home School Programs
We are happy to offer low cost field trips for your class. All programs are aligned with the Georgia Performance Standards, and our staff will work with you on accommodating specific needs of your group. The cost will be lowered to $5/student starting in 2009. Learn more about School and Home School programs here.

Scout Programs
Bring your Den or Troop to Sawnee Mountain to satisfy some of the science and outdoor badge requirements ($5/scout), or arrange for a group tree climb or canopy walk class ($20/participant).

And a lot more

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