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Located at the southernmost end of the Appalachian Mountains in Georgia, Pine Mountain has the best of both worlds. First there’s the quaint downtown area, known for its array of antique shops and boutiques, and where every experience is sprinkled with Southern charm. Then there are the wide open spaces where the spotlight shines on nature’s beauty. Nearby gardens have drawn travelers for nearly seven decades to striking flora and fauna and serene walking trails. Not far away is the massive park where creeks hop along trails that lead to small but sweet waterfalls. In fact, the area was so beloved by Franklin D. Roosevelt that the state park now bears his name.
Pine Mountain is about a 75-minute drive southwest of Atlanta, so the best way to get there is by car. If you’re flying, you’ll likely arrive at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), about an hour away. Alternatively, it’s a 90-minute drive from Montgomery, Alabama, which is served by Montgomery Regional Airport (MGM). From the airport, it’s around 2 hours away. Pine Mountain is also within reach of other hubs, including a 3.5-hour drive from Tallahassee, four hours from Savannah, five hours from Jacksonville, and six hours from New Orleans. There’s also Harris County Airport (PIM), 30 minutes away, for private flights.
With muggy summers and cold winters, the best times to enjoy the great outdoors in Pine Mountain are springs and summers, when high temperatures are in the lower 80s Fahrenheit and lows are in the 50s. Peak heat comes in mid-July, when highs inch near 90 degrees and lows are in the 70s, but it’s the mugginess that can lead to oppressive conditions, especially in late July and early August. Winters are usually in the 30s to 40s. The average monthly rainfall is about three to four inches, slightly peaking in February.
Georgia’s biggest state park covers 9,049 acres with 40 miles of trails and two lakes, with opportunities to go hiking, birding, fishing, horseback riding, stargazing, and geocaching, among other activities. Follow Franklin D. Roosevelt’s footsteps past King’s Gap to Dowdell’s Knob, where there’s a sculpture of him at the overlook where he used to picnic. The 32nd president also was known to swim in the area’s naturally warm springs to treat his polio. Waterfall lovers won’t want to miss the Pine Mountain Trail to Cascade Falls, a very popular hiking route that rewards with multiple photo-ready cascades — Csonka Falls, Big Rock Falls, Slippery Rock Falls, and Cascade Falls among them. The trailhead is 18 miles from Pine Mountain and winds through dense forest and lichen-covered rocks. If you go, be sure you’re wearing appropriate footwear to cross the streams dotting this trail and perhaps a picnic lunch to eat once you hit Cascade Falls.
Quintessential Southern charm comes to life among the antique shops and boutiques in the downtown area, which also has cafes, barbecue restaurants, and ice cream shops.