The 5.5 mile Homestead hiking trail traverses the rolling, iron-rich, red-tipped shoreline of Lake Allatoona at Red Top Mountain State Park in Georgia.
Clear blue skies, fair weather and hints of Spring make us crave some time meandering on a distant ridge line summit – but unfortunately, schedules don’t always permit a day-long drive up to the great trails in the North Georgia mountains. We’ve found many spectacular trails in the metro Atlanta area that offer a chance to grab some fresh air & adventure while meandering in the woods – and the Homestead hiking trail at Georgia’s Red Top Mountain State Park is one of them.
The Red Top Mountain State Park hiking trails explore the shoreline areas of Lake Allatoona, a large lake situated 40 miles North of Midtown Atlanta near Cartersville, Georgia. The longest and most scenic trail in the park, the Homestead Trail, is our top choice for excellent lake views and relative seclusion along the lakeshore. The 5.5 mile, moderate trail travels through a mixed pine and deciduous forest in the central Red Top Mountain peninsula, traveling one mile North towards the lake before following the winding finger-like contours of the lake shore along a 3.5 mile loop.
The Homestead Trail hike begins at the Red Top Mountain State Park visitor center, centrally located on the peninsula. The trail departs the visitors center entrance, following routinely-placed rectangular yellow blazes through a mixed deciduous and evergreen forest. Hike past a small, boulder filled creek bed in the moss and fern filled valley as the trail wraps near a park road and a grove of brilliant green, young evergreen at .9 miles, continually following the yellow blazes through several trail junctions. Hike, gaining moderate elevation, as the trail passes another grove of young evergreen trees before crossing Lodge Road at 1.25 miles and meeting the junction of the loop trail. Turn right at the intersection to follow the loop counter clockwise.
Hike onward as the trail begins to follow a small, winding stream in a valley filled with large, tossed boulders.
The trail approaches a large lake inlet at 1.5 miles before wrapping to begin a continuous wind along the peninsula fingers extending into Lake Allatoona. The source of the mountain’s name, Red Top, becomes apparent as the richly iron-laden soil and rock of the lakeshore glow red against the cool blue-green tones of the lake.
Just after passing the 2 mile marker, a chimney - a remnant of one of the homesteads for which this trail is named – is visible standing remotely between the trees on trail left.
Continue hiking through the coniferous forest flanking the Allatoona Lake shore as the trail begins a moderate ascent. The trail winds towards the West side of the peninsula and the continues to ascend to a small peak at 3.8 miles.
The trail descends slightly at 4 miles, beginning to follow Lodge Road towards the completion of the loop trail. Turn right at the trail intersection to cross Lodge Road and double back on the 1 mile hike back to the Red Top Mountain State Park visitor center, completing your hike.
If you’re in the area with extra daylight to burn, catch some wide-swept, elevated panoramas of Lake Allatoona and Red Top Mountain from the nearby Pine Mountain Trail in Cartersville, just one exit North on I-75.
GPS Coordinates: 34.149584,-84.707036
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