The 5.2 mile 302-301-401 East Loop Trail begins at the Cool Springs Overlook parking lot. Cool Springs Overlook is a deck overlook that offers a beautiful view to the east of the State Park.
It provides a view of the valley which this loop trail descends into and finally comes back from the north to ascend back up to the overlook. If you look closely at the top left image you can see the old forest service rd section of the trail continuing right below the first ridge on the right and proceeding in a north easterly direction.
The deck represents the high elevation mark of 2,564 feet for the trail. From the Overlook the 302-301-401 East Loop Trail continues to the left onto the Gahuti Trail for 0.1 miles before arriving at the 302 Trail junction. Take a right onto the 302 Trail. The next 0.7 miles the trail will descend 600 feet on a winding rocky path and depending on the time of season may offer nice views of the rock formations running up the mountain.
The trail arrives at Way Station #4 at the 0.8 mile mark measured from the parking lot located at Cool Springs Overlook.
There are 5 way stations marking the trail system of Fort Mountain State Park located in the Valley and Mid-Ridge. Way Stations #1 and #2 are located to the west of the State Park. Way Station #3 is located to the north of the State Park. And Way Stations #4 and #5 are located to the east of the State Park.
The 302-301-401 East Loop Trail will pass Way Station #4, #5, #3, and #4 again on the trail described here. The 302 Trail section is a short spur trail to Way Station #4. From this way station the loop section of the trail begins.
You can go either way but I believe the trail is more fun going to the right at Way Station #4. Take a right onto the 301 Trail section and continue gradually descending passing a creek at the 1.1 mile mark before arriving at an old forest service road at mile 1.3.
Take a right onto the 410/301 Trail section and follow the old forest service road for 0.4 miles before arriving at Way Station #5 at mile 1.7. Directly across the 301 Trail detours and climbs back up the mountain eventually arriving on the road near the front parking lot.
From Way Station #5 continue to the left on the 410 Trail represented by the wide service road and descend for 0.2 miles with Mill Creek coming in from the right before arriving at the v-junction with the 401 Trail at the 1.9 mile mark at an elevation of 1,354 feet. This is near the low point(elevation) of the trail and will remain near this elevation for the next mile.
The 401 Trail section begins by heading north on a wide old forest service road. This section of the trail is a nice easy hike through the forest and remote for the State Park.
At the 2.7-mile mark the trail detours from the old forest service road to the left and continues as a footpath. The trail is marked by an old iron trail sign(401 on the Back) and the road is marked by a post with the numbers 62(fallen) on it. Make sure you don't continue down this old forest service road or you will end up on a residentail dirt road.
The trail begins ascending to the southwest. At the 3-mile mark the trail arrives at a forest road. Take a right onto the old forest service road. The trail continues for a 0.1 miles coming to another v-junction. Go left here to continue on the 401 Trail section of this loop trail. This junction is easier to not make a mistake since the old forest service road to the right has a sign saying "Not An Authorized Trail".
The trail continues to gradually climb for the last 0.3 miles of the 401 Trail section of this loop trail and reaches its most northern point in this short section before arriving at Waystation #3 at the 3.4-mile mark and elevation 1,756 feet.
Finally, it's time to head south back toward your vehicle parked at the parking lot located at Cool Springs Overlook. Take a left at Waystation #3 onto the 301 Trail.
The next mile is one of better sections of this loop trail. The 301 Trail continues to gradually ascend on a wide trail that is usually absent any meaningful deadfall. And arrives back at Waystation #4 around the 4.4 mile mark.
From Waystation #4 take the 302 spur trail back to Cool Springs Overlook. This is a steep ascent of approximately 600 feet in a 0.8 miles back to the parking lot. There is a short section of this trail that offers a pretty view of Fort Mountain the highest peak in the State Park approximately 2/3(of this last section) from the parking lot on your right ascending the trail.
And always the wonderful view from Cool Springs Overlook at the end of this loop trail.
|302-301-401 East Loop Trail|
|Measurement Tool:||eTrex Garmin 10|
|Access:||Cool Spring Overlook Trailhead|
|Cool Springs Overhead Trailhead:||2,564 feet|
|Low Elevation:||1,251 feet|
|Features:||Valley, Idyllic Creeks, Wide trails|
|Note for GPS accuracy:||You may get different|
|mileage results depending|
|on GPS processing software|