Cumming, GA

A Legendary, Majestic View Awaits at Sawnee Mountain. But Are the "Indian Seats" Real?


Motivated by pictures and descriptions found in our favorite Georgia hiking groups, we headed to Sawnee Mountain Preserve near Cumming, GA, for a weekday hike of the 3.7-mile Indian Seats loop trail. Unlike the usual large weekend crowds and busy trails, we found the park nearly deserted and enjoyed a 2-hour stroll.

The view from the 1663-foot promontory at Indian Seats delivers an impressive panorama. Thanks to a 2017 Eagle Scout project, a sturdy, safe wooden viewpoint structure with descriptive graphics identifies the peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains projecting skyward to the north.
Amicalola, Hawk, Greasy and Springer Mountains -- 25 to 30 miles away -- are visible at the summit of Sawnee Mountain.Photo: DeanLand / Our Travel Cafe

Amicalola, Hawk, Greasy and Springer Mountains are grouped in the center of the view, approximately 25 to 30 miles away, reaching 3,382 to 3,782 feet. To the right and 39 miles distant as the crow flies, Georgia’s tallest peaks of Blood Mountain and Brasstown Bald tower to nearly 4,800 feet.

While leisure hikers and day visitors are drawn by the views, 11 miles of forest and mountain trails at Sewanee Mountain offer diverse terrain. We intentionally chose the less-busy parking area off Bettis-Tribble Gap Road as our starting point, rather than the more popular entry and visitor center on Spot Road. Walking past the picnic shelters, we turned right and began winding our way up the well-worn path. The trail is marked every 1/10 mile by blue trail guides, numbered to help in emergencies. Since reaching the parking lot requires driving up a portion of the mountain, we climbed approximately 300 vertical feet in under one mile of walking to reach the summit at its prominence of 750 feet above the surrounding valley.
A viewing platform, the result of an Eagle Scout project, provides a safe viewpoint and identifies Georgia's tallest peaks in the distance.Photo: DeanLand / Our Travel Cafe

Native Legends and Gold Mines

According to onsite and online information, Woodland people may have occupied Sawnee Mountain for ceremonial purposes as early as 500 BCE. The Cherokee reportedly used indentations in the rocks at the summit to survey their lands, as lookouts and for meditation. There’s considerable debate and no firm conclusion whether three ridge-top “seats” were chiseled from the protruding granite, though some suggest that their symmetry can’t be natural. Others claim the formation may have some resemblance to eagles, which historically were present in the area.

After the first Georgia gold rush of the 1820s faded and prospectors moved from Dahlonega to the West Coast, a pair of Atlanta men obtained land rights for gold mining at Sawnee Mountain. A crew of 15 hopeful men dug shafts into the mountainside. But the tunneling was tough and the gold produced scant, so when questions arose about land ownership, the intrepid miners abandoned the area. Mining resource “The Diggings” described both the mine and the production as “small.” Along the trail, you’ll find two entrances to the former mines, both now thankfully sealed with iron bars to explorers (and modern fools!).
Remnants of the area's failed gold mining history are still visible. Fortunately, the shafts are sealed for safety.Photo: DeanLand / Our Travel Cafe

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I'm a trained journalist, global marketing executive and experienced business leader who has run successful enterprises spanning five continents while serving customers who are among the world's best and largest restaurants. I've left the corporate business world behind, now living in Northwest Georgia and writing about avocations including outdoor excursions, family-friendly travel, road trips, exploration ideas for active seniors and some of my community passions. I've traveled to 47 states and nearly as many countries, and I'm still counting up. I'm now a traveler, hiker, cyclist, blogger, marketing consultant, community volunteer and local high school band nerd who previously has lived in Florida, Ohio, Indiana and Mississippi. I'm a South Louisiana-born French Cajun whose great-grandparents were sugar farmers, bar owners and reputed bootleggers. My upbringing in food-rich Louisiana and my restaurant industry career affirmed my status as an over-qualified eater. That also inspired the name of my blog, There, I offer up a complete menu of our my own experiences, explorations and adventures, organized by geography and always sprinkled with some spicy, tasty tidbits and food notes.

Acworth, GA

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