This is the first post from a new writer on the website, my sister Sammi Eubanks. From her, you can expect posts on backpacking, hiking and other outdoor travel information. She has been kind enough to provide us with a list of what she considers to be the best hikes in Georgia, in order from least to most difficult. Click on the related links for information on park fees and hours. See the map below for more details.
Located in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA) and roughly twenty-five minutes from downtown Atlanta, Chattahoochee River NRA – Sope Creek was my stomping ground as an adolescent. Trails can vary from short nature walks to more intense rock scrambles. Down by the creek itself are the ruins of a 19th-century paper mill. Area mountain bikers use the many trails that connect to the Cochran Shoals – Chattahoochee River area. If you are interested in taking the longer trails be aware that you will be sharing them with bikers and stepping off the trail to let them pass may be necessary. Hanging out down in the creek during the summer is a great way to cool off from that southern heat. Be aware that local wildlife does include the occasional copperhead snake and that in heavy rain situations the water can rise quickly and become unsafe.
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park is notorious as one of the few mountains in the Atlanta metropolitan area and as being the location of several battles between the North and South during the Civil War. A quick one-mile trail will bring you directly from the visitor’s center to the mountain top. This hike is enjoyable and provides views of the city from the summit. My favorite hike, however, is the area between Pigeon Hill, Cheatham Hill, and Kolb Farm. With several different length options, this trail takes you through the rolling hills of the Georgia Piedmont. You’ll see wildflower fields, above, and hardwood forests as well as walk the same woods as prominent historical figures in southern history. Be aware that areas of the trail are multi-use, meaning you will often encounter horseback riders (or smelly proof that they’ve been there)!
This natural wonder in the northwest corner of the state is well worth the drive. Boasting two waterfalls and endless camping options (including YURTS!), Cloudland Canyon State Park is one of Georgia’s gems. My personal favorite hike is the West Rim Loop. This trail is just short of five miles and gives great views into the canyon. If you time it right you can catch a view of the large birds of prey that frequent the canyon. If you have extra time you definitely need to walk down the waterfall trail. Be aware that this trail has many steps and can be a bit strenuous but the chance to see the beautiful waterfalls is worth it.
Mount Yonah is part of the Chattahoochee National Forest between Helen and Cleveland. It has a prominent section of granite that makes it visible from far away. This granite face also makes it a popular location for rock climbers. Bolts have been placed by the Army Rangers that occasionally train here. The trail travels up from the parking lot for about a mile and a half to the base of the granite wall. Walk out onto the rock to get the best view of the surrounding mountains. Up the last bit of trail is a grassy bald that is the only location for primitive camping and perfect for a game of Frisbee. Be aware that the trail is strenuous and that although tempting, taking shortcuts leads to trail erosion.
Blood Mountain is by far one of my favorite hikes in Georgia. It is located on the Appalachian Trail and is very popular with local visitors. The name is said to come from a bloody battle between the Cherokee and Creek Indians. At the top of the mountain is a Civilian Conservation Corps cabin that is often filled with thru-hikers. The strenuous hike to the peak rewards you with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains, including Mount Yonah. This is one of the best places to catch a sunset. When you are in the area be sure to stop by Mountain Crossings, a hostel and outfitter directly on the AT.
- Providence Canyon- Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon” developed as a result of poor farming practices but now provides a glimpse at the pink, orange, and red colors of the area’s geography.
- Rabun Bald- Just outside Sky Valley, this day hike culminates in an observation tower overlooking the north Georgia mountains.
- Chickamauga Battlefield- Close to the border with Tennessee, this military park has numerous trails to explore.
All photos are property of the author unless otherwise stated and are not to be used without permission. Information on trails is accurate at time of publication, but use your best judgment when hiking. If you are interested in guest posting here on This Is My South, send us an email through the Contact Form.