Dowdell's Knob Trail
Blazed Light Blue
This mile-long nature trail (one way) introduces you to the plants and animals in a dry oak-hickory forest found along the crest of Dowdell’s Knob. As the trail descends from the ridge top, look for changes in the forest as soils get deeper and conditions more moist. The markers end at a waterfall near Brown Dog bluff with a couple options for returning to the trail head.
Mountain Creek Trail
Blazed Red and starts behind the Trading Post
This 3.2 mile loop introduces you to the plants and animals in a mixed oak-pine forest found along the headwaters of Mountain Creek. As the trail climbs and descends, look for changes between the drier ridges and the wetter stream bottoms. There are also differences due to past human activities. Early in the morning or just before sunset is a good time to hear woodpeckers tapping on snags or see deer grazing in forest glades.
This lovely and well-maintained trail is rated one of the best systems in Georgia, built and maintained by the Pine Mountain Trail Association. Designed for maximum enjoyment of both the day and overnight hiker, this trail is one of the jewels of the Georgia State Park System. The trail system contains almost 40 miles. A map is sold at the park office and is a valuable tool in planning your hike. The trail starts at the park entrance off Highway 27 across from Callaway Gardens Country Store and ends at the WJSP TV Tower on Highway 85W. This is a distance of 23 miles. The main trail is indicated by a BLUE blaze. All side trails and loop connections are indicated by WHITE blazes.
There are six loops along the Pine Mountain Trail. Any of these make a good day hike.
- Mountain Creek Nature Trail (3.2 miles) This RED blazed loop starts at the Trading Post in the main camping area. It is one of the less strenuous and also one of the loveliest, as it passes through several plant habitats.
- Dowdell's Knob Loop (4.3 miles) This loop can best be accessed from the Knob parking area. Entering the main trail (blue blaze) and going either right a distance of approximately 1 mile or left a distance of approximately 2 miles to the Boot Top Trail a white blazed 1.3 mile connection back to the main trail, returning back to the parking area (Note: The Dowdell's Knob gate closes at 5:00 p.m. October 1–March 31 and at 8:00 p.m. April 1–September 31). Confirm these times before hiking.
- Wolfden Loop (6.7 miles) This is considered one of the most beautiful stretches of trail in the Southeast, and is the most popular section on the park. There are two entry points. One is to park at the TV tower parking area; the other at the mile 18 parking area on Highway 190.
- Longleaf Loop (6.9 miles) This loop has the most trail connections in the system, so a map is highly recommended. There are six highway crossings and one on the campground road, for a total of seven paved road crossings. It has at least five trail connections that you must make.
- Big Poplar Loop (7.8 miles) This is the longest loop and a favorite of most hikers. It is named for the large poplar tree located close to the ten-mile marker. It also has a number of rock formations and creeks to cross. It has two entry points: one at the mile 6 parking area on Highway 190 and also on 190 at the mile 11 parking area.
- Overlook Loop (3.4 miles) This is the newest loop to be added to the trail system. The most convenient parking is across from the Callaway Country Store, and another is at the Gardens Overlook on Highway 190.
One can also enjoy a quiet walk into the park's natural surroundings at any of the trail crossings on Highway 190 or from the park office. Simply enter the trail and go as far as you wish. Remember to carry water, snacks and rain gear. Also plan for the time it will take you to return. It is a good idea to tell someone your plans. Leave the trail better than you found it. Pick up the trash left by someone less thoughtful than you. Learn more about the Pine Mountain Trail.