Amid the pandemic, Americans seemed to have started flocking to more and more outdoor activities. Hiking, Biking, Running, Outdoor Workouts and lots of other outdoor activities have seen an increase this year. Even the Traveling Four have upped the ante when it comes to outdoor excursions. We’ve been visiting some amazing hiking and biking trails and figured why not share our experience with you. There are tons of hiking and biking trails in Georgia and in due time we hope to experience at least most of them. Here are some of the best trails we’ve found so far.
Amicalola Falls State Park
Located in Dawsonville, Georgia this park is about an hour and a half outside of Downtown Atlanta. The name Amicalola is derived from the Cherokee language and means tumbling falls. This name is spot on for the area which houses the highest waterfall in the entire state (729 feet). In total Amicalola State Park offers 10 trails for your hiking pleasures. These trails satisfy various hiking levels from beginner to experienced. The parks most popular hiking trail runs 8.5 miles from the park to Springer Mountain. Springer Mountain is at the south end of the famous Appalachian Trail which measures 2,150 miles. The Appalachian Trail is definitely for the avid and experienced hiker because it’s no easy feat. Some of the other trails include Amicalola Falls Loop Trail (2.1 miles-easy hike) and Inn Trail (9.8 miles-moderate hike).
Amicalola Falls State Park is pet friendly (leashed pets) and requires a $5 Georgia State Park Pass. Overall this park is family friendly but some of the hikes may be a bit too strenuous for smaller children. Other activities at the park include catch and release fishing, zip-lining, 3D archery, camping, gps scavenger hunt, animal meet and greets and so much more. You can also lodge at the park if you need more than one day to experience all that Amicalola has to offer.
Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area
The Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area (AMNHA) is 40,000 acres of greenspace, granite mounds and historical sites. This area consists of both paved and unpaved pathways for hiking, biking, roller blading and jogging. Most popular is the Arabia Mountain PATH which spans 30+ miles. The PATH is located in the Dekalb County region about 20 minutes outside of Downtown Atlanta. The level of difficulty for this trail depends on your ability and at which point you enter. In my opinion the PATH was fairly easy to moderate because it is mostly flat. The only truly challenging portion for me was the climb up the granite mounds. The views from the mounds were breathtaking, no wonder it is a popular spot for photographers. (Interested in other great photoshoot locations check out our Fall photoshoot article)
AMNHA is open during the week and on the weekends and has a few free parking areas. You can also access Arabian Mountain from Panola Mountain State Park which charges a $5 park entry fee. Overall this area is pet and family friendly. Most of the trails are in open spaces that get quite a bit of sunshine. Therefore, if you’re hiking these trails during the warmer months be ready for those sun kisses. Other activities that you can partake in while visiting AMNHA are fishing and geocaching. Geocaching is like a treasure hunt aided by GPS or other mobile app. Once you find the hidden treasures you sign the contained logbook to prove you found it and bury it again for the next person. It’s an activity that the entire family can enjoy.
East Palisades Trail and Bamboo Forest
The East Palisades Trail and Bamboo Forest is located in Sandy Springs, Georgia less than 20 minutes outside of Downtown Atlanta. This 3.4 mile trail (one-way) takes you through dense woodlands and eventually to a Bamboo Forest. The trail runs along the Chattahoochee River and has fantastic views all around. The Indian Trail entrance to this area is best because there is actually directed parking. The Whitewater entrance has a double entry but only truly a one way path. There is limited parking here and you usually have to wait for someone to leave in order to find a spot. There is a $5 entry fee for either parking area.
East Palisades Trail
I would definitely say that The East Palisades Trail is for moderately experienced to very experienced hikers. Although this is a not that long of a hike the pathway through the dense woodland is a bit strenuous. At times you are walking on a very narrow pathway surrounded by steeply sloped areas or large drops to the river. Many of the tree’s roots pop in and out of the ground so you definitely have to watch where you are stepping. Definitely don’t want to trip and fall down those steep slopes or into the river. I would only bring a small child if they are used to hiking unpaved trails and mindful of where they are stepping. Otherwise it’s a good hike for older children, adults and even pets. The changing colors of the leaves during Fall season was very eye catching and added to the already beautiful scenery.
Along the way there are trail maps that help you keep track of where you are. The Bamboo Forest is the farthest point on the maps. Because we had a small child with us we kept on the left most pathway directly to the Bamboo Forest. The Bamboo Forest literally appears out of nowhere. You’ll be walking along amongst the trees and at times right beside the river. You’ll go over some bridges and past some rock formations with small bits of bamboo here and there. Then all of a sudden voila…you run into these immensely large bamboo stalks. It’s actually quite an astonishing surprise and totally worth the hike to experience the wonders of Mother Nature.
Panola Mountain State Park
Located in Stockbridge, GA this park is home to a massive granite mountain, 2 fishing lakes, and a nature center. There is also a playground for the kids and picnic areas for the entire family. Other activities that you can partake in while here are geocaching, bird watching, camping, archery, and tree climbing. Other amenities at Panola Mountain State Park include an event room that seats 50, an Amphitheatre, and a pavilion.
For those who want to go hiking, biking, roller blading, dog walking and running there are many paved and unpaved trails to choose from. You can rent bikes at the park for a $10 fee. There are even ranger led trails that you can book which teach about rare plants and animals found throughout the park. We did a one mile unpaved hike and then a 6 mile paved hike (roundtrip). The 6 mile hike called the Alexander Lake Loop was very scenic, making it’s way along the lake and to different lookout points. Aside from the distance this trail wasn’t too tedious. You can turn back at any point so I would say it is an easy to moderate hike. There are many hiking trails to choose from and you can even intersect the Arabia Mountain PATH trail from this location.
Stone Mountain Park
Stone Mountain Park is located in Stone Mountain, GA which is about a 30 minute drive from Downtown Atlanta. The Park is home to the infamous Stone Mountain which is a large mass of quartz monazite. There are 15 miles of walking and hiking trails within the park. The trails vary in difficulty level and range from a 1 mile hike to the mountain top up to a 5 mile loop around the base of the mountain. There are 8 hiking trails in all including the Songbird Habitat Trail which was the site of archery and cycling during the 1996 Olympics. The Songbird trail walks you through the home of birds such the Eastern Bluebird, Northern Cardinal and White-Breasted Nuthatch. You can also bike and run on some of the trails.
Stone Mountain Park also hosts a slew of events throughout the year. From Easter, Labor Day and Christmas Celebrations to Pumpkin, Magnolia and Native American Festivals. Stone Mountain is booming year round and you can enjoy all the events for an annual fee of $59.95 (adults). Just coming for the hike well daily parking is $20 or you can park year round for $40. All in all Stone Mountain Park has something to offer everyone.
Well those are some of the trails that we’ve visited thus far. Look out for a part two with more amazing trails as we continue on our outdoor excursions. And if you have any of your own that you would like to share drop ’em in the comments. We’d love to see how you’ve been being outdoorsy as well.