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8 Great Day Hikes in the City of Atlanta...

Georgia is a place of astounding natural beauty, and boasts many amazing hiking trails less than two hours outside of Atlanta, such as the Appalachian Trail and the breathtaking waterfalls at Panther Creek. However, for Atlanta residents reluctant to leave the city too far behind, it may come as a surprise to know that many incredible places can be found close to the urban hub of Atlanta. Along the perimeter of the city, you can find a number of magnificent hiking trails that are perfect for the casual day tripper.

Murphy Chandler Park Trail
Hiking is a fantastic family activity, and most kids love getting out in the great outdoors and exploring nature’s playground. However, long hikes combined with high elevations can turn a pleasant family outing into an afternoon of bored and tired kids whining to go home. Fortunately, close to the center of Atlanta, there are many family-friendly trails short enough for young children to enjoy but still full of interesting scenery and places for adventurous kids to explore.
One such trail can be found in the urban oasis, Murphy Chandler Park, just north of the city of Atlanta. Within the 100-acres of forest is a short 2-mile trail that follows the banks of the lake. The kids can enjoy the wildlife that inhabits the lake, and the trail is also dog-friendly, so you can bring along the family pooch. This is also a great trail for runners because there is very little elevation.

Doll’s Head Trail
For a unique hiking experience, you can’t go past the Doll’s Head Trail located in Constitution Lakes Park without trying it out. Part art installation, part scenic stroll, this short loop in the middle of the multitude of crisscrossing trails in the park offers hikers an alternative to the forest, wildlife, and wetlands.
The trail is scattered with displays of artfully arranged found objects, such as decorative tiles, TVs, and toys, including the dolls’ heads that give the trail its name. Stretching only 1.6 miles, the Doll’s Head trail makes an imaginative detour through the lakes. Remember to take your camera to capture the combination of Atlanta’s creative culture and breathtaking scenery.

Cascade Springs Natural Preserve
Believe it or not, there is a waterfall located only 20 minutes from downtown Atlanta. Not only is there a majestic waterfall at the end of this 1.9-mile trail, but the trail is also scattered with remnants of Civil War history.
Beginning with the ruins of defensive lines dug by troops during the battle of Utoy Creek, the trail meets a historic springhouse and ends with the spectacular waterfall. The trail is both paved and unpaved, and contains bridges and boardwalks, making for an interesting but not too strenuous hike.

Sweetwater Creek State Park Red Trail
Many of the hiking trails surrounding Atlanta are steeped in Civil War history. One beautiful example of well-preserved Civil War ruins can be found on the trail through Sweetwater Creek State Park.
The historical ruins of the New Manchester Mill lay on the banks of a turbulent creek located along the Red Trail. The trail leads you along sandy shores and over boulders and rocky outcrops, finishing with some of the most breathtaking views of the Sweetwater Creek valley below.
The Red Trail is only one of many spectacular trails found in Sweetwater Creek Park. The Red Trail stretches a modest 2.3-miles, so be sure to check out some of the other trails on your day trip.

East Palisades Trail
Of all the trails along the Chattahoochee River (and there are many!), the East Palisades trail is one of the most beautiful and is one of the most popular trails frequented by day trippers both to and from metro Atlanta.
The trail departs from the Indian trailhead and follows the wide, rushing Chattahoochee river, through lush bamboo forests and up towering bluffs. It’s easy to see why the trail is so popular with kayakers, hikers, and outdoor adventurers of all kinds, as it offers the best scenery Atlanta has to offer.

Golden Branch Loop
While you’re exploring the trails in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, you might try the Golden Branch Loop. The 3.3-mile loop is located between Sandy Springs and Roswell and is a less frequently traveled trail. 
The serene banks of the lake and river are home to a variety of wildlife, including geese, heron, turtles, and deer. Its short distance makes it a great trail for beginner hikers, but seasoned hikers will still find it interesting due to its rollercoaster of elevations. So, if you’re moving to Atlanta and want to take up hiking and explore the local area, the Golden Branch Loop is a great place to start.

Arabia Mountain Boardwalk Trail
Another popular hiking area close to Atlanta’s metro area is the Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve. The preserve is home to numerous twisting and interconnected hiking, running, and cycling trails but, arguably, the most popular and most scenic is the Boardwalk Trail. 
The Boardwalk Trail is accessible from the Arabia Mountain Nature Center and stretches 5.1 miles along unpaved forest floor and exposed rock. The trail ascends through an enchanting pine forest, past the glassy lake. You will have to keep an eye out for a small stream trickling over open rock surfaces, which can get very slippery at times.
The Boardwalk Trail eventually connects to the Mountain Top Trail, which ends with 360-degree views of the stunning surrounding landscape.

Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield National Park
The trails traversing Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield National Park have a number of various elevations, distances, and terrains, making it a fantastic day trip for hikers of all levels of fitness and interest. However, the main attraction along these trails isn’t the magnificent scenery, but the exceptionally preserved Civil War battlefield. Throughout the trails, you can see mounds of earth, Civil War weaponry, and monuments dedicated to Civil War history and the role that the area played in the Battle of Kennesaw.
The Red Mountain Loop trail is a favorite among hikers. It will take you up to the summit of Mount Kennesaw, then lead you to Fort McBride and Confederate earthworks on the descent. The track is full of surprising rocky patches and entrancing sunlit forest canopies. You can then either follow the same trail back or choose one of the connected trails for your return journey.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker, or simply curious about the beauty surrounding Atlanta’s metro area, you can find a trail to suit your interests.

Olivia is the content manager for Atlanta Peach Movers (www.atlpeachmovers.com). When she’s not writing, you can find her running through Buckhead with her rescue pup, Bo.


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