Sunday Hikes: Stone Mountain Walk Up Trail

One of the more iconic hikes in the Atlanta area is Stone Mountain. Fair warning, the Stone Mountain park is a private park and they do charge a parking fee.

If you are not from the area, but have ever flown through ATL then you have probably seen Stone Mountain. It’s the largest piece of exposed granite in the world and is 1686 feet in elevation at its zenith.

The trail starts at a busy parking lot and on this hot late summer day, there were a lot of folks climbing the trail. The Walk Up Trail, as it’s called, is one mile up and one mile back. I did the trail twice so I got 4 miles in.

The trail starts with an incline and you can see some places where granite had been excavated previously. The yellow daisies which only grow on the granite outcroppings in the southern United Stares were in full bloom.

The hike is a gradual incline but near the summit gets very steep and has railing so you can keep from sliding back down.

Views from the top are expansive with the Atlanta skyline directly in front of you. The summit is marred a bit by tourists who have ridden up on the skylift and are not sweaty like the hikers. There are some exhibits, a gift shop and snack bar at the summit as well.

All in all, a great Atlanta hike with local history and culture. Try this hike and stay for the laser show on the mountain face on your next visit to Atlanta.

rk

Fort Mountain State Park: Family Hiking

Welcome back readers – we are going strong on our mission to visit all the beautiful Georgia State Parks. The days are getting long and hot here in Georgia, so today we headed out bright and early for Fort Mountain, a State Park about 2 hours north of Atlanta. The park gets it’s name for the nearly 900 foot long “fort” rock wall located atop the mountain. The history behind the namesake fort is a bit muddy, as there is no definitive explanation for who built the wall (or why.)

After some exceptionally curvy mountain driving (not my favorite activity), we arrived at the entrance of Fort Mountain State Park. This park is primarily used by tent, RV, and cottage campers, so they had a well-stocked Trading Post that we stopped in at. In the building was a massive taxidermy black bear who had previously called the park home. According to a sign, he was illegally killed by a hunter, but the body was retrieved to be displayed in the park. Our 3 year old was terrified of the bear- Hopefully that means he will listen when we talk about bear safety!

The park is fairly large, so we drove over to the beginning of the most popular trail. It is was a 1.5 mile hike that summits to the park’s fire tower, which visitors are permitted to climb (with a ranger present) for a spectacular view. We then looped down to the fort which the park was named for. The “fort” is more of a long pile of rocks than anything. We hiked around it for a bit and spotted some millipedes, but not much else in the wildlife department. The loop trail hike itself was fairly easy and mostly shady.  We ended our trip with a packed lunch by the park’s lake, which features a small swimming beach and different types of boat rentals.

On our way home, we were able to drive by two Historic Sites, the Chief Vann House and New Echota. Both of these are located on the Trail of Tears and feature Native American History. We didn’t get out and explore because we had a sleeping kid in the back, and both required guided tours with admission, no free exploration of the grounds, which we weren’t really up for waiting around for. I did snap some pictures out of the window though!  Overall, it was a really nice day exploring North Georgia’s bright green spring wildlife and getting a small taste of history.

Until next week- Rebekah

Sunday Hikes: Providence Canyon

Josh and I have been wanting to hike in Providence Canyon State Park for a long time. Before he left for the west coast we were able to get down and do some hiking here.

Providence Canyon is located in southwest Georgia and is known as the “Grand Canyon of Georgia”. It is thought to be formed by poor agricultural practices in the 1800’s causing the canyons to form.

There are two trails here. The 7 mile red blazed Backcountry Trail and the 2.45 mile white blazed Rim Trail. We of course did both. We left the Visitors Center and headed down the trailhead. The trail quickly came to a junction in the middle of running water through a wash. The Backcountry Trail followed the wash, so lamenting the mud on our new hiking boots, we headed down the trail.

Eventually we left the mud behind and hiked through the forest having a blast. The purple wisteria was blooming in the forest and smelled wonderful.

As we continued through the forest, we passed several of the backcountry camping sites. They were each pretty remote and looked like a great place to camp. One even had a full blown shelter.

The trail became more rugged as we gained about 150 feet to the top of the canyon. The views got cooler and cooler and we stopped to take a lot of pictures slowing our time. We were surprised to see quite a few rusted out cars as we came back to where the Backcountry Trail meets the Rim Trail.

The Rim Trail not only goes around the top of the canyon but also goes down into the canyon with 9 different canyon ways you can explore. This means a lot more traipsing through the mud. We had so much fun here and I took a video so you can understand what it was like.

Looking up at the canyon walls was really fun and as this part of the park was more crowded we started chatting with others who were also exploring.

We finally arrived back at the Visitor Center and walked the top of the canyon to see it from above. The views were fabulous due to the great spring weather.

Thanks for reading. rk

Sunday Hikes: The Cooper Furnace Trails

I recently discovered this series of trails near the Allatoona Lake Dam near Cartersville GA. The Cooper Furnace Trail comes right up on Google Maps if you search for it. It is a one way trail of only .7 miles that ends at the more conveniently located trailhead in Cooper Furnace Day Use Area. This little park is only open seasonally.

Since it’s February, I started at the trailhead open year round. Almost immediately there are options to take a connector trail to the Pine Mountain Trail (which is a great hike by the way) or the Laurel Ridge Trail (which is a great one mile alternate hike back).

The Cooper Furnace Trail runs along an old railroad line used when mining was common in the area. It is a wide and well maintained trail.

Soon you come to a small pond where you can sometimes spot a beaver, and you pick up a gravel road where you turn right to come to the namesake Cooper’s Furnace.

The Furnace is really impressive and there is a short spur trail that overlooks the Furnace. From what I understand, Cooper’s Furnace is the only remaining structure from the defunct town of Etowah that was destroyed when Union General Sherman torched the town during the Civil War.

From here there is an excellent approx 1 mile loop trail that runs along the Etowah River with great views and this giant worm I came across.

After completing the loop, head back to the beaver pond but continue up the gravel road which will return you back to the trailhead on the Laurel Ridge Trail. The Laurel Ridge Trail has some really nice picnic spots if you are so inclined. Following this route gives you a 2.7 mile approximate distance that has a lot of fun scenery.

Thanks for reading. rk

Sunday Hikes: Kennesaw Mountain

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Kennesaw Mountain is my hometown hike.   It is the centerpiece of the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield in Kennesaw GA.   I like to combine several trails here to make a 7 mile loop.   I start with the 24 Guns trail and pick up the Environmental Trail which leads me to the Visitors Center.   Then I ascend Kennesaw Mountain and come back down with an additional loop around to the back of the Visitors Center and then return down the remaining portion of the Environmental Trail and down 24 Guns Trail.   The parking by the Visitors Center is crazy busy so parking at the 24 Guns trailhead off of Gilbert Road is much easier.

Kennesaw Mountain is 1808 feet above sea level.   The trail itself is a pretty steep 1 mile hike one way.   There is a ton of deer to see along the way, it is rare not to see some in the morning or evening.  There are also civil war fortifications and cannons along the route.  The view at the top is really cool.   The Kennesaw Mountain summit is actually the highest point in metro Atlanta.   From one side you can see the Atlanta skyline and on a clear day, Stone Mountain on the far side of Atlanta.   From the other side you can see the north Georgia mountains which are the foothills of the Appalachian mountain chain.

This is a really enjoyable hike that gets your heartbeat running on the ascent.   I recommend it to anyone in the area who wants to combine historical significance with beautiful views and exercise.   For a great experience, hike first thing in the morning to see the sunrise behind Atlanta.

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