Fort Mountain State Park: Part 4 of 4

July 18, 2019

I can understand why people from Atlanta have moved and are moving to the North Georgia Mountains around Chatsworth and Elijay. It’s only about 80 miles which is a short commute these days on 4-lane Hwy. 400.

The hills are dotted with beautiful new homes. The demand was so great that Governor Zell Miller (1991 through 1999) led in getting a mountain and hillside protection ordinance passed.

Governor Zell Miller

Miller was raised in poverty by his widowed single mother in Young Harris, Georgia, in the hills of North Georgia. She built a home for herself and her children with rocks she had hauled from a nearby stream. Miller’s love for this mountain area came from his childhood and teen years. Thank God that he had the foresight to protect the mountains.

Fort Mountain State Park was established in 1938 after Atlanta businessman Ivan Allen donated the initial acreage to the state, ensuring the unique cultural and natural resources atop Fort Mountain would be protected for future generations.

In the late 1990s, through federal and state funding, the park expanded its boundaries to include 3,712 acres. This expansion has helped protect the park from the booming mountain realty developments and provided more recreational opportunities.

Going to and from the Park is a scenic drive on curvy, winding Highway 52 through parts of the 37,000 acre Cohutta Wilderness that has several overlook parking areas.

Cuhutta Wilderness

It was kinda sad to leave this amazing State Park, but we had to leave for the next campers. Weekends are practically impossible to book for our State Parks unless you make reservations months and months in advance.

It’s easy to pack up and pull out with our Regency National Traveler Camper Van. Joyce just unhooks the water and electricity and closes the back doors while I watch the Shelties.

A beautiful sunrise through the trees around our camp site on our final morning was almost surreal.

We never did see a bear on our many walks. When we checked in on Monday, the lady at the desk told us, “There is an active bear in the Park.” But, we never did see it although a camping neighbor said he saw one one on his early morning walk around the lake. The only one we saw was “Black Cloud” at the Camp Store. 

Black Cloud was shot by a poacher. The Game Warden caught him dragging the bear out of the woods.

Poachers can make a lot of money because of the demand in China. There is a network that ships bear body-parts, mainly gallbladders and paws, for their use in Chinese Traditional Medicine. American black bears are being poached both for international smuggling of their parts, as well as for sale in traditional Chinese medicine shops in the Unites States.

Estimates are that 40,000 black bears have been illegally poached in the United States. Poachers use chocolate syrup, peanut butter, and honey buns for bait.

They are killed for their gallbladders and paws which are considered a delicacy and used as medicine in China for 3,000 years. It has been used to cure various ailments, such as fever, gall stones, liver problems, heart disease, and eye irritation.

The man who shot Black Cloud received both a long time in jail and a stiff fine.

Our stay at Fort Mountain ended too soon. We had one last cup of coffee and were greeted on last morning with a beautiful sunrise through the trees around our site.

Then away we went back down scenic Hwy. 52. We hadn’t driven very far when our trip was made complete. On the edge of the woods were two bears that quickly scampered back into the safety of their woodsy paradise as we passed by.

Scenic Hwy 52

Back home in Appling, Georgia, we were greeted with 94 temperature and smothering humidity 🥵.

We are already thinking of a camping trip in August. It will definitely be at a State Park somewhere in the cool North Georgia Mountains.

Thanks for reading. Blessings.

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