Members Only
Mystery Mountain Marathon and 12 Miler
Mystery Mountain Marathon and 12 Miler

Mystery Mountain Marathon and 12 Miler

Sunday, October 8, 2023
12 Mile

Race Details


Marathon and 12-mile trail races traversing difficult, sometimes technical but stunningly beautiful trails, featuring panoramic views of fall foliage displayed on the surrounding mountains. Climbing and descending for about 5,500 feet of elevation gain, runners will enjoy single track, rugged mountain bike, and smooth horse trails while running over and around Fort Mountain, passing the mysterious rock wall built at the top of the mountain over 1,000 years ago.

Race Start
Both races begin at 8:00 a.m. near the lake; follow signs in the park to the lake.

Women/Men: Top 5 overall
1st place masters & grandmasters
Marathon finishers will receive a special finisher’s award
No duplication or mailing of awards

100% Non-Profit Race.  Portion of our proceeds will go to support Fort Mountain State Park.

Directions to Fort Mountain State Park
Address: 181 Fort Mountain State Park Road, Chatsworth, GA, 30705

From I75 Northbound from Atlanta:  Exit #293, GA 411 to Chatsworth; travel approximately 39 miles to Chatsworth and turn right onto GA 52; park gate is on left in approximately 8 miles

From I75 Southbound from Chattanooga:  Exit #336, US 41 to Dalton; travel approximately 16 miles to Chatsworth and turn left onto GA 52; park gate is on left in approximately 8 miles

Marathon:  8-hour time limit.
Cutoffs along the course are as follows:
• 3.5 hours at Power Line Aid Station (approx. 11 miles)
• 6.0 hours at Far Out Aid Station (approx. 18.9 miles)

Please do not harass the aid station volunteers to let you continue after the cutoff. The cutoffs are for your safety.  We need you and our sweeps off the mountain trails before dark.  Furthermore, it will be the discretion of the race director and EMT supervisors to pull a runner from the race if it is determined unsafe for the runner to continue.

Aid Stations
Three (3) aid stations with variety of food, drink and support; one (1) additional “fluids only” aid station.

Six (6) aid stations with variety of food, drink and support; two (2)  additional “fluids only“ aid stations.

For the marathon it is highly recommended that you carry a water bottle.  The distance between Bunker Hill and Far Out, and Far Out and Last Gasp, will take some runners over one hour.  Please plan accordingly.

The approximate aid station mileage is as follows:

• Stone Tower – Mile 3.5
• Park Entrance – Mile 8.0
• Water Cooler (Fluids Only) – Mile 9.8
• Power Line – Mile 11.0
• [12-mile finish line – Mile 12.0]
• Bunker Hill - 15.5
• Far Out – 18.9
• Last Gasp – 22.3
• Water Cooler (Fluids Only) – 24.6
• [Marathon Finish --  26.2]

Parking fee
There is a $5 State Park parking fee at FMSP. This fee is NOT included in your entry. Fee will be collected upon your arrival into the park, so please have $5 or your annual park pass handy. Georgia Annual State Park passes are a great way to support our parks, and may be purchased at the park headquarters or online.  

Postrace Celebration
Postrace food and beverage will be served to celebrate your finish.

If you don’t plan on running or have someone attending who would like to volunteer, please let us know. Email with the subject “MMM Volunteer." Volunteers have the option of free pasta dinner and a free tent space on Saturday night; just let us know if you are interested.

What’s in a name?
Mystery Mountain Marathon derives its name from a mysterious stone wall found at the top of Fort Mountain.  Measuring 855 feet in length, the wall varies in height from two to six feet but was most likely considerably higher in the past.  Remains of large circular depressions made of various sized stones are scattered at regular intervals along its length. The wall has intrigued researchers for decades. Why was the wall built?  Who built it?  When was it built?

Most researchers believe Fort Mountain’s wall was constructed around 500 AD.  Many believe that the wall was constructed by Native Americans as fortification against other more aggressive tribes, or for ancient religious or ceremonial purposes.  Although the wall predates the Cherokees, the Cherokee people referred to the wall-builders as “moon-eyed people” because they could see better at night than by day.  Another myth claims that the Welsh prince Madoc arrived in Mobile Bay around 1400 AD, and was pushed northward by aggressive native tribes, building the wall for protection.  Some geologists (unromantically) believe that the wall might be the result of natural weathering processes.  Regardless, with no definitive proof to date and none likely to be found, the low rock wall continues to be shrouded in mystery and intrigue.  


Marathon: $55 before September 10; $70 thereafter
12 Miler: $40 before September 10; $55 thereafter

GUTS members receive a $5 discount

Combined races limited to 250 participants
Only entries received by September 20 will have guaranteed shirt size.

** No refunds. No transfers. No deferrals. No exceptions. **
GUTS is 100% Non-Profit - All volunteer.  A portion of our proceeds will go towards support of Fort Mountain State Park.

Parking Directions

Both races begin at 8:00 a.m. near the lake; follow signs in the park to the lake.

Parking fee
There is a $5 State Park parking fee at FMSP. This fee is NOT included in your entry. Fee will be collected upon your arrival into the park, so please have $5 or your annual park pass handy. Georgia Annual State Park passes are a great way to support our parks, and may be purchased at the park headquarters or online.

Course Map

Mystery Mountain Marathon and 12 Miler

Course Details

Course Description

Difficult, sometimes technical trails with long, extended climbs, over and around Fort Mountain.

Both races will start with a flat, quick loop around the lake. The course then connects to the Gahuti trail via the rocky and rooty Big Rock trail. The Gahuti travels around the edge of the park. The trail is single track, cambered and rocky as it travels just below the summits of both Cohutta and Fort Mountains. The course will briefly leave the Gahuti to take in a loop around the top of the mountain. The top of the mountain trail is narrow and footing is difficult until reaching the legendary rock wall, where the trail then descends back to the Gahuti and gradually begins to widen with the footing becoming smoother. The hills do not end coming “down” the mountain back to the lake; the elevation gain is almost the same as the initial ascent.

The course will come back to the lake via the other side of the Big Rock trail.  The 12-milers will run back around the lake for their finish. The marathoners will turn and run up to the 301 loop via the steep power line trail.

The 301 loop is a beautiful, challenging, and mostly double-track trail. It passes through pine and scrub laurel thickets, upland hardwood and cove forests, by old mines, then waterfalls and rhododendrons before returning up the mountain and then following the mountain ridge top before descending back to the lake.  From there, the marathoners will run back around the lake for their finish.

Bears have been spotted along many sections of the Mystery Mountain Marathon course, so be bear aware!

Trail Course Markings - General

As simple as this may sound, this is NOT a road race. There will be no mile markers. It will not always be 100% apparent which way to go. There may not always be another runner in sight. It is entirely possible that you could get lost or sustain a serious injury in this race. No matter how careful you are, you might fall or trip along the way. Ultimately YOU are responsible for running this race, being careful, and following the course markings.

The course will be marked with a combination of surveyor’s tape, flags, chalk, and directional arrows. Turns will be marked with one or more of these methods.  The trail will also have “confidence” markers every 2-5 minutes, even when there are no turns off the main trail – this is to assure runners they are on the right path.  As you run the course you should continually look for markings to be sure you are on the right course.  Do not turn onto a side trail unless you see markings indicating a turn. For the majority of the course you will stay on the main path and seldom take side trails.  If you have not seen a marker in over 5 minutes, then consider retracing your steps to the last known marker or waiting for another runner.

Trail Course Markings – Specifics for MMM

12M racers will follow ORANGE markings.

Marathon racers will follow ORANGE markings for the first 11 miles, and then BLUE markings after the Power Line Aid Station.

Note that the majority of the 12M route (and the first 11 miles of the Marathon) predominantly uses the Gahuti Trail, which is blazed ORANGE.   ** Remember, however, that a portion of the route goes off the orange-blazed Gahuti trail, so be sure to follow the orange MMM flags/signs/chalk/course marshals/ribbons and not just the trail blazes. **

All markings will be placed on the right hand side of the trail. Doing so will help you verify if you are running in the appropriate direction.

When approaching a trail intersection, a series of three to four ribbons will be placed on the right side of the trail before and after the trail intersection if possible.

The race starts and finishes with a loop around the lake (both 12-milers and marathoners). This section of the course will be marked with orange flagging as you start, and with orange AND blue flagging as you finish. Markings will again be on your right.

Prior to the Park Entrance Aid Station, the Gahuti and the 301 trails share a quarter mile of trail; we call this the Fort Mountain Connector. 12-milers will pass this section once, following orange markings. Marathoners will pass this section twice, following orange (before the power lines), then blue (after the power lines). This section will be marked with orange and blue ribbons.

Trail Courtesy

It can be difficult to pass other runners in a trail race, especially on single-track trails. If you are ready to pass another runner you should verbally indicate your intention by saying “may I pass?”, or “trail left” or “trail right”.  The runner should then yield the trail by moving over as much as possible. As soon as you have room, pass the other runner quickly.  If someone asks to pass you, then follow the same rules of courtesy, and move over when requested. Even if you can move partially off the trail or turn slightly sideways, this should be enough room for someone to quickly move past you. Or, if you are looking for an excuse to rest, just step off the trail and wait until they are gone!

A word about headphones:  Trail races are not road races.  Trail courtesy relies on communication between runners. Headphones naturally impair the ability of runners to hear one another on the trail.  (They also hinder your ability to hear bears!)  Please consider leaving your headphones behind and enjoying the soundtrack of the woods.  If you absolutely insist on wearing headphones at MMM, please keep the volume low and remove one earbud when around other runners.

Fort Mountain Trails will NOT be closed during the race. You may encounter hikers, bikers (marathon only), or even horses (marathon only) on the course on race day. Please be courteous. Announce your approach in order to allow them time to move off the trail.

Leave no Trace

Do not leave any litter on the course. Anyone caught littering will be disqualified and ostracized.  Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them. Observe wildlife from a distance and do not approach or feed them (especially the bears).

Predicted Weather

All runners should be aware of changing weather. Conditions can change quickly in the mountains so be prepared.  Fort Mountain: October Avg High: 74, Avg Low: 49

Packet Pickup

Saturday, October 7, 5:00-7:00 p.m. at Picnic Shelter #4 (near lake) in Fort Mountain State Park.
Race day at Picnic Shelter #4 (near lake) starting at 6:30 a.m.

Race Course Records


Jacqueline Merritt (2016) - 4:23:16

Dennis Bauer (2008) - 3:34:19

12 Miler

Jessica Marlier (2010) - 1:50:27

Evan Dare (2017) - 1:28:11

12 Mile


10/8/23 8:00 am


Wave Start Details





10/8/23 8:00 am


Wave Start Details



Travel Information

Recommended Lodging

GUTS has secured the #3 Pioneer Camp site on Saturday for tent campers. The cost is $5.00 per tent (free for volunteers). Please email the Race Director to secure a tent spot. You can pay at check-in on Saturday.

Fort Mountain State Park – cabins, campsites (w/power&cable, walk-in, or platform);; 1-800-864-7275
Super 8 (downtown Chatsworth, 8 miles from the park);;
613 3rd Ave, Chatsworth GA 30705; (706) 695-0850.

Key West Inn (downtown Chatsworth, 8 miles from park); 501 GI Maddox Pkwy Chatsworth GA 30705; 706-517-1155

Elijay, Georgia has several hotels as well, and is approximately 18 miles from Fort Mountain State Park.  Dalton, Georgia is approximately 21 miles from the park.  

Race Director

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Race Results

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Race Sponsors

Atlanta Snack Club
West Stride
Moon Pie