Sope Creek: Hiking the Ruins & Creek Trail
Hike this one mile out-and-back trail at Sope Creek Park near Marietta to Civil-War-era paper mill ruins on the shores of the beautiful Sope Creek.
This trail’s relatively short length, moderate elevation change, beauty and cool factor make it a popular Atlanta-area trail for families hiking with kids.
The Sope Creek Trail dives into beautiful forest on a shady, wooded trail, descending elevation to the rushing, tumbling, boulder-filled Sope Creek. The trail visits the towering stone ruins of a paper mill on the banks of the creek, destroyed by troops during the Civil War, before turning to retrace its steps to the trailhead parking area, hiking a total of one mile.
Sope Creek Ruins & Creek Trail: the hike
The trail departs the Sope Creek trailhead (view maps and driving directions), hiking northeast on the left-most trail departing the pavement. The trail dives beneath a young deciduous forest canopy, the spindly trees flanking the trail providing cool shade for most of the hike.
The trail steadily descends elevation toward Sope Creek, the sounds of tumbling water becoming audible as the hike approaches the creek’s banks. The trail’s descent intensifies at .4 mile, making a sharp turn downward for the hike’s final stretch toward the creek and mill ruins.
The Sope Creek Trail meets the former site of the Marietta Paper Mill at .5 mile. The paper mill, built in the 1850s, was destroyed by Union troops in the battle of Atlanta during the Civil War. Grasses and trees now grow inside the mill’s walls, with castle-like remnants towering into the sky.
The trail descends the northern edge of the mill ruins to view the mill’s former spillway. A small creek – a tributary of Sope Creek – cascades over a stacked stone wall to the north, creating a small waterfall.
The hike continues the descent to Sope Creek’s banks, meeting the tumbling creek on shores of sand and boulders. Sope Creek flows southbound toward the Chattahoochee River, flowing through deep, calm pools punctuated by rushing, whitewater-filled cascades over large boulders. Sope Creek is especially beautiful in Spring, when budding trees and spring wildflowers line its sandy shores.
The hike turns, departing Sope Creek’s shores and the paper mill ruins, retracing its route to the parking area trailhead. The initial, .1 mile climb from the mill ruins is as difficult as the descent, the trail rising sharply and climbing over boulders before leveling at .6 mile.
The hike reaches the trailhead at 1 mile, completing the hike.
Looking for slightly longer hike? The Sope Creek Loop Trail, a longer and slightly more difficult trail at the park, visits the scenic shores of Sope Creek’s serene Sibley Pond.
Sope Creek is one of many beautiful parks on or near the Chattahoochee River in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area north of Atlanta. Check out more riverside trails in our Chattahoochee River hiking guide.