Best Easy Day Hikes Atlanta  by Ren and Helen Davis

Best Easy Day Hikes: Atlanta Guide Book

by Ren and Helen Davis (Falcon Guides)
Best Easy Day Hikes Atlanta  by Ren and Helen Davis
Best Easy Day Hikes Atlanta includes concise descriptions and detailed maps for twenty of the authors’ favorite, easy-to-follow hikes in and around Atlanta, Georgia. Discover splendid trails and historic Civil War battlefields at Pickett’s Mill and Kennesaw Mountain, trek along the meandering Chattahoochee River, and explore the lush landscapes of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia.

© 2010 Ren and Helen Davis/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best Easy Day Hikes: Atlanta" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 20.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 20.

One of north Atlanta’s favorite play spaces, 260-acre Chastain Park features a golf course, sports and recreation fields, a tennis center, a swimming pool, an equestrian center, picnic pavilions, and a playground. Nearby are the renowned Chastain Park Amphitheater and the Galloway School campus (private), whose original building was once the Fulton County alms (poor) house. The paved path meandering around and through the park is part of the network of PATH trails found in various areas around Atlanta.
Sandy Springs, GA - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 2.9
The 127-acre Chattahoochee Nature Center (CNC) preserves habitats along the Chattahoochee River. The familyoriented center offers more than 3 miles of marked trails, ponds and streams for observing native wildlife, exhibits and classrooms, wild-animal rescue and recovery services, and educational programs for all ages. The hike begins in the plaza behind the Chattahoochee Nature Center administration building. Turn left and follow the path west of the maintenance building. At a trail fork bear right to the Stone Cabin Trail (yellow blaze).
Roswell, GA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.9
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With its popular 3.1-mile fitness trail along the river and floodplain, Cochran Shoals is the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area’s busiest unit (the parking area quickly fills on weekends). Beyond the fitness trail, challenging hiking paths climb into the surrounding hills. One path, the Scribner Trail, links Cochran Shoals with the adjacent Sope Creek Unit of the park.
Vinnings, GA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.5
When President Jimmy Carter created the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in 1978, this site, including the former retreat of Judge Samuel Hewlett (ca. 1930s), was selected as headquarters. Today the log and stone structure is the park’s visitor center. Nineteenth-century pioneers, settling this area after removal of the Cherokee on the Trail of Tears, sought shallow fords to bring their families across the river. One such site was here at Island Ford. Today the rocky shoals attract fly-fishers, while hikers trek along the banks and through the surrounding hills.
Dunwoody, GA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.8
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Created in 1977 by local business and civic leaders Hampton Daughtry and David Settle, the Dauset Trails Nature Center is a 1,200-acre private nonprofit outdoor education and recreation area adjacent to Indian Springs State Park. The center offers more than 17 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails through a wooded piedmont landscape. Dauset Trails offers nature exhibits, classrooms, picnic pavilions, a group campground, a lakeside chapel, and the Animal Trail, featuring native, non-releasable creatures in fenced habitats. The hiking route described is an excellent introduction to the center’s natural beauty.
Jackson, GA - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 5.8
One of the Atlanta’s most unusual trails crosses the exposed granite hills, wetlands, and forests at Arabia Mountain, taking you back nearly a half billion years in time. Arabia Mountain is a monadnock, an outcrop of rock, near Lithonia (Greek for “place of rock”). After nearly a century of quarrying the stone, the Davidson Mineral Company donated the property to DeKalb County for a park in 1973. In 2006 Arabia Mountain, Panola Mountain, and surrounding areas were recognized by the National Park Service as the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area. Today a PATH Foundation multiuse trail links Arabia and Panola Mountains.
Belmont, GA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.8
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Nestled in the valley of Peavine Creek and along wooded upland slopes, sixty-five-acre Fernbank Forest is a true rarity, a vestige of old-growth, virgin forest only a few miles from the heart of a major city. Families come to meander along paved trails beneath 200-year-old hardwoods, pause at overlooks and beside ponds, and reconnect with the natural world. Also on the grounds, the Fernbank Science Center offers exhibit halls, classrooms, a library, a world-class planetarium, an astronomical observatory (open Thursday and Friday evenings), and an aerospace education laboratory.
Decatur, GA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.5
The 2,888-acre Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park preserves the site of battles fought between Union and Confederate Armies from June 22 to July 2, 1864. In addition to restored fortifications, Kennesaw Mountain and surrounding woodlands are important wildlife habitats. The mountain, a landmark on the Eastern migratory flyway, is designated an Important Bird Area (IBA) along the southern edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Elizabeth, GA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.8
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Nestled in the Appalachian foothills adjacent to Lake Lanier’s Buford Dam, Laurel Ridge Trail offers a glimpse of the landscape as it appeared before the lake was completed by the Corps of Engineers in 1957. From the trail section below the dam, a bridge crosses the Chattahoochee River to Bowman’s Island, a unit of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. The lake is named for Georgia-born poet Sidney Lanier, best known for his works “The Song of the Chattahoochee,” “Sunrise,” and “The Marshes of Glynn.”
Cumming, GA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.8
This 527-acre Carroll County park was once the home of Creek chief William McIntosh. Son of a Scots immigrant and a Creek princess, McIntosh served under Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812. In 1821 he brought together Creek and Cherokee leaders to establish a boundary between the two nations (they met at “Council Bluffs” along the trail by the Chattahoochee River). Four years later, McIntosh signed the Treaty of Indian Springs, ceding the final Creek lands in Georgia to the state. He was later assassinated here by treaty opponents.
Whitesburg, GA - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 6.9
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This 1,500-acre park offers visitors an opportunity to explore the exposed rocks and fragile environment of 940-foothigh Panola Mountain. Once called Little Stone Mountain, Panola is a designated National Natural Landmark, as well as a laboratory for geological study. A hike along the 0.75-mile Rock Outcrop and 1.25-mile Micro-watershed Trail offers an excellent introduction to the park and is open during park hours. An optional, guided summit hike is available on a scheduled basis; there is a fee and reservations are recommended.
Stockbridge, GA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2
In reports from the Union Army’s 1864 march into Georgia, General William T. Sherman barely mentioned the May 27 fighting at Pickett’s Mill. The likely reason is that, among a string of victories, this battle was a stunning defeat. After the war the site remained virtually unchanged and is among the nation’s best preserved Civil War battlefields. Noted shortstory writer Ambrose Bierce was a young Union lieutenant at Pickett’s Mill. The dark nature of his writing has been attributed to his war experiences. His eyewitness account of the battle, “The Crime at Pickett’s Mill,” offers a sobering picture of war’s brutality.
New Hope, GA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.1
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For more than a century, this 186-acre park north of downtown has served as Atlanta’s “common ground,” hosting Confederate veterans, presidents, musicians (from John Philip Sousa to the Allman Brothers), baseball games, and the first football game ever played in Georgia. The landscape, designed by the Olmsted Brothers, was commissioned for the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition. Piedmont’s dog park is among the nation’s top ten. At the northern end are the Atlanta Botanical Garden (ABG) and the fifteen-acre Storza Woods, one of the largest vestiges of mature hardwood forest in the city.
Atlanta, GA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.6
Nestled on a 1,950-acre Allatoona Lake peninsula, Red Top Mountain is among Georgia’s most popular state parks. Centuries ago these hills were home to Paleo-Indians who built mysterious mounds, which are now preserved at nearby Etowah Mounds State Historic Site. After the Cherokee removal on the Trail of Tears in the 1830s, the hills were mined for their rich iron ore. The mines were destroyed during the Civil War, but remnants may still be seen at nearby Cooper Furnace Park.
Emerson, GA - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.25
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First farmed before the Civil War, this land was purchased in the 1920s by Judge William H. Reynolds, who spent years reclaiming worn-out fields, building ponds, and planting trees. He also added thousands of native azaleas, and for many years visitors traveled great distances to tour the gardens. In 1976 Reynolds donated 130 acres to Clayton County for a public preserve. Federal grant funds were later used to construct a nature center, trails, footbridges, and picnic pavilion. Today the Reynolds Nature Preserve is operated by the Clayton County Parks and Recreation Department.
Lake City, GA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.8
The preserve, located north of Cumming, features a 4-mile network of foot trails along the slopes of 1,963-foot Sawnee Mountain (named for a Cherokee chief). The exposed rocks just below the summit, dubbed Indian Seats, offer spectacular vistas. In addition to trekking, enthusiasts may rock climb and rappel (by permit) and enjoy outdoor educational programs. This hike begins from the Environmental Learning Center at the preserve’s northern entrance.
Cumming, GA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.4
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One of the region’s finest “rail trails,” the Silver Comet follows the former route of a passenger train that ran from New York City to Birmingham, Alabama. Developed by the PATH Foundation in partnership with state and county agencies, the multi-use trail, which stretches along the old railway bed, reaches the Alabama state line, where it connects with the Chief Ladiga Trail, providing a 101-mile-long pedestrian path that links suburban Atlanta with Anniston, Alabama. An attraction along this section of the trail is Heritage Park, with foot trails leading to ruins of the nineteenth-century Concord Woolen Mill, old Concord Covered Bridge, and a nature center pavilion.
Oakdale, GA - Hiking,Road Biking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 4.2
Established by the University of Georgia in 1968, the 313- acre gardens complex includes a glass-enclosed conservatory and visitor center, the stone and timber Day Chapel, the Callaway classroom building, and the Garden Club of Georgia headquarters. In addition to paths through gardens of native and exotic plants and herbs, the garden features more than 5 miles of trails in surrounding forests, wetlands, and floodplains of the Middle Oconee River.
Athens, GA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.9
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Rising 800 feet above the piedmont hills and encompassing nearly 600 acres of exposed granite, 300-million-year-old Stone Mountain and the surrounding park have long been among Georgia’s premier tourist destinations. While the mountain may be best known for the bas-relief carving of Confederate leaders Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson, the park offers lakes, golf courses, excursion trains, aerial tram, a re-created antebellum plantation, museums, and the Crossroads living history village. The hike described here follows the Cherokee Trail, which encircles the mountain and intersects with the Walk-Up Trail to the summit (a National Historic Trail).
Stone Mountain, GA - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.2
This park preserves both the natural piedmont landscape and the ruins of the New Manchester Manufacturing Company’s mill that operated from 1849 until burned by the Union Cavalry on July 9, 1864. Today the mill’s brick walls and mill race serve as reminders of Atlanta’s early history and the heartbreak of the Civil War. The park’s visitor center features exhibits about the area’s natural history and the tragic story of the mill and the people who worked there. In addition, the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)–certified building is among the world’s most energy-efficient structures.
Lithia Springs, GA - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.5
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