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Atlanta’s Best Hiking Trails – Our Top 10 Favorite Hikes

Our top 10 favorite Atlanta hiking trails within 40 miles of the city. These hikes explore gorgeous forest, rolling terrain and scenic rivers near Atlanta.

Spectacular hikes fill Georgia’s rolling mountains and coastal plains, offering a great outdoor escape from Atlanta’s urban life. Fueled with a hunger for fresh air, nature, and the chance to unplug from technology, we’ve trekked many of Georgia’s best trails, eager to find the best hikes to waterfalls, mountain summits and mossy, whitewater-filled trout streams. And, granted, many of the most popular Georgia hiking trails are less than two hours from Atlanta, including the famed Appalachian Trail and the beautiful waterfalls at Panther Creek Falls.

But busy weekends don’t always allow time for a drive to the Appalachians and time on the trail. The local Atlanta area has many hiking trails that equal the adventure on the fantastic hiking trails in the North Georgia mountains. And some local Atlanta hikes provide scenery so visually stunning you’ll be left guessing if you’re even in Georgia, let alone an Atlanta suburb. These are our top ten favorite Atlanta hiking trails. All are within a 40 mile drive of Midtown Atlanta – and a few are even within the I-285 Perimeter loop.

What to pack?

Even though these trails are nearby and relatively short, we pack water and a few lightweight safety essentials on these local hikes. What’s in my backpack? Check out my hiking gear list for day hikes in the local Atlanta area.

#1 – HIKING THE SWEETWATER CREEK STATE PARK TRAILS

Hiking at Sweetwater Creek State Park in Georgia

Hike rugged outdoor beauty minutes from Atlanta on the rocky, boulder-lined banks of Sweetwater Creek State Park. Our four favorite Sweetwater Creek trails hike through scraggy woods, follow the sandy and bluff-filled banks of Sweetwater Creek and explore Civil War mill ruins.
2 – 4 MILES

See hiking trail photos, maps & directions

 

#2 – HIKING THE ARABIA MOUNTAIN TRAILS

Clouds reflect in water pools along hiking trails at the summit of Arabia Mountain near Atlanta

The Arabia Mountain trails hike through a beautiful, rugged granite ecosystem 30 minutes from Midtown Atlanta. This terrain is so beautiful – and almost surreal – you wouldn’t guess the Arabia Mountain hiking trails were anywhere near Atlanta – let alone in Georgia.
2 – 4 MILES

See hiking trail photos, maps & directions

 

#3 -HIKING THE SAWNEE MOUNTAIN TRAIL TO INDIAN SEATS

Hiking the Indian Seats Trail at Sawnee Mountain Preserve

The Indian Seats Trail climbs Sawnee Mountain in Cumming to beautiful summit views of the North Georgia mountains. The hike ascends to a sheer mountain face overlooking the surrounding plains and offering far-reaching views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
4 MILES

See hiking trail photos, maps & directions

 

#4 – HIKING THE SOPE CREEK TRAIL

Hiking at Sope Creek Park on the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta, Georgia

Hike the Sope Creek Trail at Sope Creek Park, a popular Chattahoochee River park just outside Atlanta. The Sope Creek Trail meanders through young forest to a rushing, boulder-filled creek and explores Civil War paper mill ruins before circling the banks of a glassy pond.
1.5 MILES

See hiking trail photos, maps & directions

 

#5 – HIKING THE EAST PALISADES TRAIL AT THE CHATTAHOOCHEE RIVER

Hiking along the Chattachoochee River near Atlanta at Indian Trail / East Palisades

Hike the Indian Trail, Whitewater Creek and East Palisades Trails to some the most scenic Chattahoochee River views in the Atlanta area. The East Palisades Trail follows the banks of the shoaling Chattahoochee River, hikes through a bamboo forest and scales several large bluffs to beautiful river overlook views.
3.4 MILES

See hiking trail photos, maps & directions

 

#6 – HIKING THE KENNESAW MOUNTAIN TRAIL

Hiking at Kennesaw Mountain near Marietta, Georgia

The Kennesaw Mountain Trail hikes to stunning Atlanta skyline views and treks through now-beautiful terrain drenched in Civil War history. This adventurous trail combo links the double peaks of Kennesaw Mountain, explores Pigeon Hill and Cheatham Hill, and hikes through a stream-filled forest.
11 MILES

See hiking trail photos, maps & directions

 

#7 – HIKING THE PINE MOUNTAIN TRAIL NEAR ALLATOONA LAKE

Hike the Pine Mountain Trail to gorgeous mountaintop vistas from the Pine Mountain summit near Cartersville near Atlanta

Hike the Pine Mountain Trail near Cartersville through rocky coniferous forest to views at the Pine Mountain summit, grabbing stunning long-range views of Allatoona Lake and the Atlanta skyline on a clear day.
4.5 MILES

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#8 – HIKING THE VICKERY CREEK TRAIL NEAR ROSWELL

Hike the Vickery Creek Trail on the Chattahoochee River to the Roswell Mill ruins and a covered bridge near Roswell, Georgia

Hike this Chattahoochee River Park on the Vickery Creek Trail to the Roswell Mill’s historic mill ruins. The trail also visits a covered bridge and a rushing, cascading waterfall at the historic Vickery Creek dam.
3 MILES

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#9 – HIKING THE YELLOW RIVER TRAIL AT YELLOW RIVER PARK

Hike the Yellow River Trail near Stone Mountain at Yellow River Park

Hike through rolling forest on the banks of this smooth, wide-flowing river on the Yellow River Hiking Trail. The trail hikes to scenic overviews, following the river’s meandering contours at Yellow River Park near Stone Mountain.
3.2 MILES

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#10 – HIKING THE IRON HILL LOOP TRAIL AT RED TOP MOUNTAIN

Hike the Iron Hill Trail at Red Top Mountain State Park on Allatoona Lake

Hike the Iron Hill Trail at Red Top Mountain State Park on a peninsula with beautiful, reflective views of Allatoona Lake. The hike grabs nearly continuous views of the lake’s glassy, calm inlets and crosses multiple wooden boardwalks while following the Allatoona shoreline.
3.8 MILES

See hiking trail photos, maps & directions

 

Bonus Hikes: More “can’t-miss” Atlanta Trails

Crossed off our favorite Atlanta hikes on your bucket list? Congrats! Here’s a few more of our favorite Atlanta trails:

 

HIKING THE STONE MOUNTAIN CHEROKEE & WALK-UP TRAILS

Hike Stone Mountain's trails near Atlanta, Georgia on the Cherokee and Walk Up Hiking Trails

Combine Stone Mountain’s Cherokee and Walk Up Trails for a hike through the most popular, scenic, and serene sections of the park. This hike climbs sharply to the mountain summit before climbing over, down, and around the circumference of Stone Mountain’s massive granite face just outside of Atlanta.
7 MILES

See hiking trail photos, maps & directions

 

HIKING THE COCHRAN SHOALS TRAIL TO SOPE CREEK

Hike the Cochran Shoals Trail to the Sope Creek Trail on the Chattahoochee River

Grab some great intown trail miles on this two-trail combo stretching from the popular running and walking trails at Cochran Shoals to the mill ruins and pond at Sope Creek. A connecting trail spans the two popular parks, passing by weather-worn headstones in a small, old cemetery in the middle of the forest.
8.5 MILES

See hiking trail photos, maps & directions

 

HIKING THE POWERS ISLAND TRAIL ON THE CHATTAHOOCHEE RIVER

Hike the Powers Island Trail on the Chattahoochee River

The Powers Island Park is so much more than overflow parking for its popular neighbor, the Cochran Shoals Trail. Hike across the park’s bridge to trek through old growth riverine forest on Powers Island and loop down the Chattahoochee River for views from its boulder-filled banks.
2.4 MILES

See hiking trail photos, maps & directions

 

HIKING THE WEST PALISADES TRAIL AT AKERS DRIVE

Hike the West Palisades Trail from the Akers Drive trailhead on the banks of the Chattahoochee River

Explore the Palisades from the Chattahoochee River’s opposite bank on the West Palisades Trail. The hike departs a trailhead at Akers Drive, dipping to the bluff-lined shores of the Chattahoochee River and visiting the wildlife-filled Rottenwood Creek.
4 MILES

See hiking trail photos, maps & directions

 

Want more trails?

Escape sidewalks and crosswalks on our top ten Atlanta running trails – they’re equally great for walking or a weekend stroll with the family. Visit Georgia’s rolling southern Appalachian mountains on a hike to a stunning summit in our list of top ten hikes in North Georgia. And love waterfalls? Hike to our favorite falls on our top ten list of Georgia waterfall hikes.

Atlanta Hiking Trails – Top 10 Trail Map

 
 
Eric Champlin is a writer and photographer who loves to hike, run, kayak and cycle Georgia’s beautiful outdoors.

Eric is the editor and founder of Atlanta Trails, an online magazine that reviews the best hiking trails, running trails and outdoor adventures throughout Georgia.
 


 
 
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