Atlanta, Georgia is known for being one of the busiest cities in the southeastern section of the United States. Many folks fail to recognize all of the excellent trails and state parks that you can reach within an hour’s drive. This seriously is a city within a forest. If you’re looking for something more mountainous, I also have a quick guide to 10 amazing places to visit in Georgia where you can fully experience all the nature and wildlife that Georgia has to offer. However, these drives are significantly farther, especially if you start driving within proximity to the downtown area.
Nevertheless, all trails are worth it and I highly recommend checking out the blog. This week I wanted to share, Indian Seats Trail, a relatively short, 4-mile roundtrip trail that has become a new favorite of mine. You can find this trail in the Sawnee Mountain Preserve located in Cumming, Georgia, or what Atlantans would call north Georgia. For me, I don’t see north Georgia until I reach the top of this little mountain. Sawnee Mountain is definitely one of the closest mountain hikes for me and definitely one of the nicest views I’ve seen around Georgia. I live in Gwinnett County so I’m probably a little closer than the heart of Atlanta. I think it takes about 45 mins and covers a distance of maybe 20 miles or so from my location. There are two entrances that will get you on the trail to the lookout. The entrance I use is at the visitors center off Spot Rd. From the visitor center, you take Laurel Springs Trail, the only trail at the center, and it will join into Indian Seats Trail. There is a fork in the trail here. Take the right at the fork and you will head towards a parking lot. Going towards your left will lead you to the overlook. The parking lot is simply the other entrance about a 3/4-mile down Bettis Tribble Gap Rd. Both locations can get you to the peak. Thanks to Alltrails and Google, a trail map is available. You can also really see the size of that ridgeline from the map’s topography! I hit this trail a few weeks ago just as the cold spell broke here in Georgia. It was still a cold, windy afternoon but I was aching to get out and hike. Sometimes you just need that solitude to jumpstart your brain again. As soon as you get on the trail, it begins to wind up and around a short incline. After a few sets of switchbacks, the trail levels off just before heading up the last rocky incline that opens you up to the lookout. Overall, I’d say this trail is medium in difficulty. Throw a heavy pack on if you’re looking for the workout. There are some steep parts but they are fairly short.
Because of its proximity to Atlanta, Sawnee Mountain is a popular spot nearly all year round. At the top of the mountain, you might find other hikers taking in the beautiful views. I met a few youngsters and one old man hanging out on the overlook. The old man knew all the mountains nearby and even some over in North Carolina. Waterfalls, too! It has always been interesting to me listening to other people’s stories about where they came from and where they’d been. It’s rather inspiring at times, most times actually. The image above was taken from the overlook last in 2016 about this time but I wanted to think outside the box and experiment near the rock ledges. The last time I was here, I had just bought a camera and owned one lens, ‘the nifty fifty’, for only a few weeks. I took shot this handheld. Due to hard drive failure, I can’t access the actual settings of this image but I think I used a fast shutter speed on this, maybe 250. The 50mm that I have goes down to f1.8 as well, so I’m assuming I used a lower aperture judging by the focal point in the image. Although the image turned out ok, I was a total newb at photography and hadn’t learned much about long exposure landscape shots. I was just talking the other day how my photography had become significantly better over the past few years. This year I was shooting with the same camera but using a 28-85mm mid-range zoom lens and an old-school manual 24mm lens. Surprisingly, I captured a similar focal point shot as before but this time my settings were quite different and the results definitely show the improvements in my photography and post-editing skills.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a tripod handy for this shoot but luckily found a sturdy place to rest the camera between two tree branches and other times just sitting on the rocks. This really helped me steady out the 1/32 shutter speed. Shooting this handheld would have been blurry for sure or else, I would have had to crank the shutter speed up and lose all of that extra light. Those were the same thoughts I had before but at that time I never thought about more light giving more detail. ISO was set at 100 as are most of my landscape shots, especially in bright light. Aperture was set to f/16. I do wish those clouds had of been there, though.
And of course, I had to get a couple of Instagram selfie, lifestyle shots. The view is great here and I was hoping the sun to actually be in a different spot today but at least the colors of the setting sun allowed the images turn out well. I wasn’t sure how the selfie images would turn out but I kind of like them. I never do selfie stuff but I feel that these images really reflect the way I see myself. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If so, these might be a few of those pictures for me. Camera settings are the same on these selfie shots except I’m using a much wider angle, a 24mm, and the camera is sitting on the rocks. It’s an old-school manual lens and really simple to use. I set the focal point to infinity, close the aperture down to get a broader depth of field, slow the shutter speed, and try to stay in range of the remote. A wide lens works really well for these kinds of shots helping to create a sense of size and depth to the image.
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