Cascade Springs Nature Preserve Trail
Hike the stream-filled trails at Atlanta's Cascade Springs Nature Preserve to a beautiful waterfall and Civil War battle site.
Departing from a chain-link-fenced parking area, the Cascade Springs Nature Preserve seems an unlikely venue for the natural beauty that borders its trails. The preserve’s tranquility is surrounded by urban buzz in a southwest Atlanta neighborhood dotted with 1970s plazas and boarded-window Craftsman houses.
Inside Cascade Spring’s 120 acres of green space, hiking trails trek to a beautiful waterfall, through a wildlife-filled forest and past springs that feed the park’s many streams. The hilly forest is a retreat from the surrounding city and home to a number of hiking trails and wildlife, including deer, birds and turtles.
The Cascade Springs Trail departs the parking area trailhead (view maps and driving directions), winding on a boardwalk skirting earthworks built by Civil War troops – a line of defense in the nearby battle of Utoy Creek. The trail meets a moss-covered, stone-and-mortar structure over a trickling spring, turning right to hike a paved trail to the east.
Cascade Springs Nature Preserve: the hike
The hike departs the pavement, following a dirt trail through rolling forest westbound toward Utoy Creek and meeting the creek at .3 mile. The trail turns southbound, following the creek’s deeply-cut banks upstream along an old gravel roadbed. The hike reaches a side trail at .55 miles, turning left here to climb elevation through switchbacks in a boulder-studded forest.
The trail crests elevation on a ridge, Civil War earthworks faintly visible on the fern and ivy-filled forest floor. The hike turns right at a trail intersection on the ridge’s crest, hiking due east before turning left onto the northbound Terrace Trail. English Ivy drapes the landscape in deep emerald as the trail descends, passing an old building just before 1 mile.
The hike meets the Spring Trail junction at just over 1 mile, turning right and trailing beside several small streams. The trail approaches a boulder-strewn valley, the sound of falling water amplifying through the forest, before meeting the Cascade Springs waterfall at 1.3 miles. The waterfall cascades under an often-busy bridge, English Ivy draping the large rock that terraces the falls’ three tumbling cascades.
Departing the waterfall, the trail runs a boardwalk and follows the meandering banks of the creek westbound toward the trailhead, reaching the stone springhouse and park entrance at 1.6 miles and completing the hike.
Note: Not all trail intersections are marked. GPS is recommended. Slippery rocks and fast moving water can be extremely dangerous! Do not climb, stand above, swim near, or jump from any waterfall. See more water safety tips.
Cascade Springs Nature Preserve Trail: Directions & Details
Free. The Cascade Springs Nature Preserve hours are limited, and gates are locked at closing time.
Summer: Mon-Fri 7:30a - 3:00p, Sat-Sun 7:30a - 7:30p
Winter: Mon-Fri 7:30a - 3:00p, Sat-Sun 7:30a - 6:00p
33.719350, -84.480733 // N33 43.161 W84 28.844