Dawson Forest - City of Atlanta Tract

Dawson Forest Base Map

A cooperative project of: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Georgia Forestry Commission, and Georgia Department of Natural Resources - Wildlife Resources Division.

Forest Manager
Georgia Forestry Commission
4500 Hwy. 53 East
Dawsonville GA 30534
e-mail: tpage@gfc.state.ga.us
Wildlife Management Contact
Georgia Department of Natural Resources
2150 Dawsonville Hwy
Gainesville GA  30501

The Dawson Forest City of Atlanta Tract is a 10,130 acre forest owned by the City of Atlanta and managed by the Georgia Forestry Commission. The Commission plays a Stewardship role for the City by using conservation practices that minimize damage to the Forest caused by human and natural forces. The Forest produces timber, wildlife habitat, clean water into the Etowah River watershed, and many opportunities for persons to experience recreation and education.

Directions from Hwy 400: Take Hwy 400 North or South depending upon starting location to the Dawsonville Outlet mall Red Light. (Turn Left (West) if traveling North or Right (West) if traveling South onto Dawson Forest Road.) Continue straight for approximately 3.8 miles until the intersection/stop sign. Proceed straight through intersection for approximately 1 mile to South entrance gate. Proceed through gate and Parking Area/Trailhead will be just ahead on the right.

Forest Management

The Forest is managed using guidelines from the Dawson Forest Stewardship Management Plan. This Plan designates practices to be applied to each forest stand for the next 30 years. For example, areas of the forest composed mostly of pine tree species will be thinned before they start to die from overcrowding. Areas of mature pine will be harvested and reforested before heavy mortality begins in the old trees. Other practices, such as prescribed burning and herbicide treatments are applied when specific improvements in the composition of the plant community are desired.

The strategic placing of all these management practices across the Forest over time is done to increase the diversity of the Forest and to increase the quality of habitat for several wildlife species. The Plan also designates many areas to be only - "protected". These areas are scattered over the Forest in appropriate areas near streams and contain mostly hardwood tree species. A "natural area" is also designated near the center of the Forest where no management practices will be applied and the Forest will be allowed to change naturally over time. The Stewardship Plan also includes the logistics of road maintenance and access control. Funding for care and management of the Forest is provided by the owner, the City of Atlanta. All incomes received from the Forest are returned to the City.


Through a cooperative Agreement between the Georgia Forestry Commission and Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources the Dawson Forest City of Atlanta Tract is designated as a portion of the Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area. The Wildlife Resources Division maintains twenty-eight wildlife food plantings and regulates all hunting on the forest. For more information concerning the Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area consult the Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.


Trail use is allowed by the general public as follows:

  1. Hiking can be done anywhere on the Forest during all times the Forest is open. There are TRAIL USE RESTRICTIONS during hunting seasons.

  2. Horseback riding and mountain bike (bicycle) riding are allowed on designated trails only. Riding is not allowed during firearms deer hunting days and not before 10:00 a. m. during deer archery and spring turkey hunting days. Horseback and bicycle riding are also not allowed anytime the Main Gate is closed. Vehicles towing trailers must park at the trailhead parking area near the Main Gate on Dawson Forest Road. A trail user fee is required. A daily fee can be deposited in a collection tube at the trail head or an annual pass can be downloaded here or obtained from the DNR Wildlife Resources Division NE Georgia office. All collected funds are used in trail maintenance and management.

  3. No ATV or off-road vehicle use is allowed. Vehicles are restricted to open roads only.

  4. A Dawson Forest Trail Map can be downloaded from the maps section of this site.

Primitive camping is allowed anywhere on the Forest on days it is open. Camping is restricted to seven consecutive days or less. There are no restroom or garbage collection facilities with the exception of the "dry toilet" at the trailhead. Users should practice good conservation in all outdoor activities. Anything packed in should be packed out, trash included.

Any organization wishing to use Dawson Forest for a group event is required to contact the Forest Manager for a special use permit.

Trail Schedule


Scouting groups and other organizations are encouraged to utilize the area for outdoor education. The Georgia Forestry Commission staff is many times available to provide educational programs concerning the management of our forests. The Commission supports the idea of the growth and production of renewable resources while providing a healthy environment for people, wildlife, and plants.