15 Gorgeous Places to Go Hiking Near Atlanta for All Levels
By Kay Rodriguez
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Updated November 17, 2022
Atlanta might seem like a big city with a vast spread of suburbs, but if you take a closer look, you’ll find plenty of urban outdoor adventures to try here. One of the best ways to spend time outdoors is by hiking in Atlanta and exploring its many trails, forests, and rocky terrain. Many of the hikes in Atlanta will bring you through hills and mountains, to historic factories and mills, and past some pretty scenic waterfalls and stone formations. The scenery here amidst the backdrop of the Appalachian Mountains is so surreal! Our guide includes 15 of the best hikes near Atlanta to help you plan your next outdoors.
For a nature-filled area that’s in the middle of the action, theVickery Creek Trailis one of the easiest to get to hikes in Atlanta. While it’s not completely secluded from people, cars, or homes, the trails wind around in a lovely loop through the forest and along the shores of Vickery Creek. The main highlights on the trail include a wide waterfall that served formerly as a dam, and a scenic, historic bridge that crosses the water.
Note: There is a fee per vehicle to enter Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.
There are several historic hikes in Atlanta, and one of the most accessible and fun ones is the Sope Creek Trail. Here, hikers of all levels can take a leisurely walk through the forest and admire the massive ruins of a paper mill, the brick walls of this multi-story structure still largely in place. Additionally, you’ll find a creek and beautiful forest areas, perfect for a shady hike in the warmer months of the year.
Pro tip: Make sure to wear hiking sandals in the summer so you can wade in the water by the ruins!
For an easy, family-friendly trail, head to Cascade Springs Nature Preserve to explore around these forested hiking trails in Atlanta. On-site, you’ll find 1.9 miles of trails that take you to a cute, hidden waterfall and grotto, several historic ruins, an amphitheater, and lush green forest areas. As you make your way through this forested path, there are also plenty of opportunities to view wildlife, including turtles and deer.
As one of the most beloved spots for hiking in Atlanta, the Sweetwater Creek Red Trail is a beautiful, hilly hike that takes you to a diverse set of landmarks and views. History lovers will enjoy seeing ruins of historic brick buildings, while nature lovers will be thrilled at the wildlife viewing opportunities and beautiful views of waterfalls, the forest, and the creek.
While the trail is well-maintained, there are several areas with hilly terrain and stairs, so be sure to wear sturdy shoes and plan to sweat a bit!
Note: Sweetwater Creek State Park charges a $5 parking fee.
Island Ford Loop Trail
Trail Distance: 5.4 miles
Location: Island Ford Park
Perfect for hikers who want to explore a bit longer, theIsland Ford Trailis a beautiful haven for wildlife and nature lovers looking to escape urban Atlanta for a little while. This trail is very shady and has opportunities to see turtles, deer, and a wide variety of birds. Plus, there are waterfalls, wildflowers, and views of the Chattahoochee River’s teal waters. Note that the trail can get quite muddy after rain, so come prepared with waterproof hiking boots and thick socks if that’s the case!
For lovely views of the city skyline juxtaposed with the beauty of the Chattahoochee River, the East Palisades Trailis a fantastic place to start. This moderate trail is accessible to all levels of hikers, but does have a few ascents that can provide a bit of a workout! Locals love this trail because it is dog-friendly, shaded, and has beautiful and diverse views of the Chattahoochee River, the nearby forests, and the surrounding hills.
Note: There is a fee per vehicle to enter Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.
Sawnee Mountain Indian Seats Trail
Trail Distance: 3.1 miles
Location: Sawnee Mountain Preserve
If you’re looking for a hike with panoramic views, the Indian Seats Trailat Sawnee Mountain is a fantastic spot for hiking in Atlanta. Situated on a mountaintop, the trail takes you through the forest to some epic views of the surrounding countryside, where you can see down into some nearby neighborhoods, nearby waterways, and more mountains off into the distance. While the trail is rated as moderate, this hike is accessible to all levels who want a bit of a challenge with some excellent views as a reward.
As one of the most popular hikes in Atlanta, Stone Mountain Walk Up & Cherokee Trail is an adrenaline-inducing and fun adventure for the intrepid folks out there. With a mix of paved and dirt trails, the hike features beautiful wooded areas, historic ruins (including a former mill!), and a trek to the top of Stone Mountain.
This hike is a fun challenge for adventurous hikers – there are a few steep inclines and the summit requires a bit of a scramble (yes, “Walk Up” is definitely a misnomer). However, the views and the thrill of the hike are well worth the effort!
Having a good pair of hiking boots is essential when scrambling, so we’d recommend investing in some quality ones for this hike. Check out our complete guides here:
For a more serene, less crowded hiking experience, the Tennessee Rock Trail is one of the most peaceful hikes in Atlanta. This trail is densely forested and has plenty of shade as you make your way up to the top of the overlook, where you’ll catch sweeping views of the Appalachian Mountains surrounding Black Rock Mountain State Park. While the trail does have some ascents and descents, we’d recommend it for hikers of all levels who want to see some of the best views in the Atlanta area!
Note: There is a $5 parking fee at this park.
Arabia Mountain Top Trail
Trail Distance: 1.3-3.8 miles
Location: Arabia Mountain Park
One of the most unique places for hiking in Atlanta is the Arabia Mountain Top Trail. The trail itself is just 1.3 miles, but can be combined with the Klondike and Forest Trails pathways to make a 3.8 mile loop. Arabia Mountain is unique because the first portion of the trail requires traversing a granite slab. Locals call it a “moon-like landscape” because it’s wide and barren, unlike the many wooded trails in this area. Along the hike, you’ll find waterfalls, rocky terrain, and some historic ruins, which add to the variety and uniqueness of the trails.
Sitton’s Gulch Trail
Trail Distance: 5 miles
Location: Cloudland Canyon State Park
Waterfall lovers rejoice – Sitton’s Gulch Trail is the perfect spot for waterfall viewing and hiking near Atlanta. This beautiful, 5-mile hiking trail offers views of several waterfalls (this part of the trail is aptly named the “Waterfall Trail” for a reason!), as well as dirt paths connected by scenic wooden bridges. The lush, mossy forest provides a fantastic backdrop for seasonal wildflowers and nearby wildlife. Additionally, you’ll find spectacular views of Cloudland Canyon State Park, one of Georgia’s most beloved places for wild, rugged scenery.
Did you know that you can find challenging hikes in Atlanta? Among locals, the Blood Mountain trail is a scenic favorite. This difficult hike offers absolutely stunning views, from a picturesque, moss-lined forest creek with tiny waterfalls to sweeping views of the Appalachian Mountains. The coolest part? This trail is technically part of the Appalachian Trail, meaning that you’re hiking a double-whammy when you tackle the Blood Mountain trail.
We love bringing hiking watches on difficult hikes, so we can see our vitals and track our performance. If you’re looking for a good hiking watch, check out our complete guide:
For a day full of stunning Appalachian Mountain views, there are few better trails than those in the Brasstown Wilderness. If you are limited on time, the short Brasstown Bald trail leads hikers up an incline to a stunning overlook, where fog engulfs the valleys below in the early morning light. A longer addition to this hike would be to continue on the Arkaquah Trail for some or all of the 11 miles it extends, out and back through the forest with even more spectacular views of the nearby mountaintops.
Arguably the coolest hiking experience near Atlanta, the Len Foote Hike Inn Trail is a backcountry inn that offers shelter and food to hikers along the Appalachian Trail. Yes, you can book a room there and hike in ~5 miles to spend the night!
The reward of reaching the Len Foote Hike Inn doesn’t come without some effort – this challenging trail has a lot of steep inclines and terrain variations to keep you on your toes. Along the way, you’ll pass the breathtaking Amicalola Falls, which is Georgia’s tallest waterfall, cascading a whopping 720 feet from the top of a rocky cliff.
Note: This park charges a parking fee.
Pine Mountain Trail (Allatoona Lake)
Trail Distance: 22.2 miles
Location: F. D. Roosevelt State Park
Counting in as the longest trail on our list, the Pine Mountain Trail is a whopper of a trail that winds through F.D. Roosevelt State Park. This rugged trail contains over 22 miles of forested areas, mountain views, and waterfalls. While the Pine Mountain Trail can technically be done in just one day, we’d recommend turning this trail into a multi-day backpacking and camping experience. Many people choose to take 2 days to complete this trail, and there are campsites along the way that you can set up camp in, enjoying the sunset and sunrise views through the trees.
Note: This state park charges a $5 parking fee.
Additional Resources for Hiking in Atlanta
What to Bring Hiking in Atlanta
Breathable hiking clothes – For warmer hikes, you’ll want to wear a sweat-wicking shirt and breathable pants, like these Patagonia hiking shorts for men and women. For cold-weather hikes, we recommend dressing in layers, including merino wool baselayers for men and women, a down puffer jacket for men and women, and a Northface waterproof outer shell for men and women (a must for hiking in Seattle). And don’t forget a pair of the best women’s and men’s hiking socks!
Trekking poles – You won’t need these for every single hike, but we suggest throwing them in your car just in case. We recommend the Black Diamond Trail Ergo cork trekking poles, which are lightweight, easy to transport, and durable.
Water bottle – Having water available at all times is a huge must. To limit disposable plastic, we recommend bringing your own refillable water bottle. We’re obsessed with Hydro Flask water bottles because they keep water cold for hours.
Sunscreen and bug spray – Sweatproof sunscreen and DEET bug spray can help you avoid sunburn and bug bites, two of hiking’s most annoying after-effects. Our favorite kind of sunscreen is Sun Bum, as it is free of harsh chemicals and safe for marine life, including coral reefs.
A brimmed hat or cap – The sun can be brutal in open hikes, so always pack a brimmed hat or capfor day hikes in the sunshine.
Emergency blanket and first aid kit – We’d strongly recommend bringing a first aid kit and a lightweight emergency blanket on every hike. Why? Because the unfathomable can happen, and it’s always best to play it safe.
Durable day pack – A durable day pack is the perfect spot to stash all your hiking gear. While any backpack will do, we recommend the Osprey Tempest 20 or the Talon 22 day packs because they’re comfortable and breathable for long hikes. For more information, check out our best day packs for any terrain guide.
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