July is National Parks and Recreation month, and what better way to celebrate than by exploring some of Georgia’s most popular trails. Whether you’re looking to have an outdoor adventure in your own backyard or want a weekend getaway where you can be at one with nature, we guarantee there is a happy trail in Georgia for you.
One of Georgia’s most popular trails, the Silver Comet Trail, is located just northwest of Atlanta. Spanning 61.5 miles, the Silver Comet begins at the Mavell Road Trailhead in Smyrna and crosses through Cobb, Paulding and Polk counties to the Georgia/Alabama state line near Cedartown at the Esom Hill Trailhead. If you want to continue on, the trail connects to the 33-mile long Chief Ladiga Trail. Both trails are fully paved routes built on abandoned railroad lines making them perfect for walking, hiking, biking, rollerblading, horseback riding, dog walking and more.
The Appalachian Trail, which begins at Springer Mountain here in Fannin County and ends at Mount Katahdin in Maine, spans an impressive 2,200 miles and is part of the Triple Crown of long distance hiking. The Georgia portion of the trail continues for 79 miles from Springer to Bly Gap, and reaches its highest point of just over 4,400 feet at Blood Mountain. Hikers can choose from an array of trail access points that lead to different mountains and gaps, but no matter which path you follow, you will be guaranteed scenic views of North Georgia.
Beginning at Anna Ruby Falls is the 4.6 mile Smith Creek trail in Helen. Traveling over Hickory Nut Ridge and Smith Mountain to Unicoi State Park, this U.S. Forest Service trail is well known for its beautiful waterfall and moderate skill level.
F.D. Roosevelt State Park in Pine Mountain is home to two trails. The Dowdell Knob’s Trail is a mile-long nature trail designed to introduce you to the plants and animals of the dry oak forest, and ends at a waterfall near Brown Dog bluff. The Mountain Creek Trail is a 3.2 mile lop trail through a mixed oak-pine forest along the headwaters of Mountain Creek. If you want to experience the sounds of woodpeckers or see deer grazing, the best time to hike this trail is in the early morning or right before sunset.
The 33.2-mile Georgia section of the Bartram National Heritage Trail, which is named after 18th century naturalist and explorer William Bartram, enters the state from North Carolina near Commissioner’s Rock. This trail crosses the second highest mountain in the state, Rabun Bald, joins the Chattooga River trail, passes by Martin Creek Falls and ends at Warwoman Dell.
The Bear Creek Trail in Murray County is a 6.4 mile loop following Bear Creek from a point off of Forest Service Road 241. Hikers will get glimpses of the Chattahoochee National Forest, multiple streams and the second largest tree in North Georgia, the Gennett Poplar, which is named for the family who sold the land to the U.S. government.
Those looking for an opportunity to bike along the shores of Lake Allatoona will want to head out to the Iron Hill Bike Trail at Red Top Mountain State Park in Cartersville. This biking and hiking trail is a 3.9 mile gravel loop trail that winds along the banks of the lake in a historic area that was once the home of an active iron mining community.
For history lovers, the Vickery Creek Trails in Roswell are the perfect day getaway. You enter the trails after crossing over a beautiful covered bridge. Once across the river and over the bridge, you have the option to explore the Vickery Creek unit of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, ruins of the Old Roswell Mill and the millpond dam.
There are several trails around Amicalola Falls in Dawson County. The Amicalola Falls Trail is a 2.3 mile long trail offering spectacular views of the falls, including a bridge at the top of the falls offering a breath-taking view of the South Appalachian piedmont in Georgia. The Amicalola Falls West Ridge trails span 1.3 miles along Amicalola Creek, an old railroad, a mountain laurel filled ridge and Cherokee spring. The Amicalola Falls East Ridge trail is a one-mile portion of a longer Southern Terminus Approach Trail, which is the start of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia.
Located in Douglas County, the Sweetwater Red or Sweetwater Historic Trail follows Sweetwater Creek down to one of Atlanta’s first cotton mills, Manchester Mill, and then on to Sweetwater Falls.
Hikers in Gwinnett County will find an easy trail following the ridge line east of Lake Lanier at the Laurel Ridge Trail. This 3.8 mile is perfect for a family outing (but don’t bring Fido), and is complete with bathrooms, water fountains, swimming areas, scenic views and boat ramps, as well as access to Lanier Dam Park.
From easy paths exploring Georgia’s history to more difficult treks offering unparalleled views of Georgia’s landscape, the possibilities are endless when it comes to exploring the Peach State via trails. So, be sure to get out and see what our great state has to offer just minutes from your Atlanta new home!