Athens is a small Georgia city with small town charm, well known and loved as the home of the University of Georgia, Bulldog football, and an amazing music and food scene. The Classic City also offers some fantastic nearby hiking and running trails, too – perfect for some off-campus time in the great outdoors.

Hiking near Athens, GA: our favorite hikes and running trails

Run or hike the banks of the Middle Oconee River through beautifully manicured grounds and natural forest ecosystems at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia. Take a scenic run near the UGA campus on the North Oconee River Greenway and Athens Heritage Trail, catching a generous dose of natural beauty and a lesson in Athens history, too. Or explore nearby Fort Yargo State Park on many miles of hiking and running trails, trekking through grassy meadows, shady pine forest and along the meandering shore of Marbury Creek Lake.

Our favorite hikes near Athens

Grab your hiking boots or running shoes and hit one of these favorite trails near Athens – or check out our Georgia Trail Map Search for even more nearby adventures:

  • Run the Heritage Trail and the North Oconee River Greenway near the UGA campus in Athens, GA

    Athens Heritage Trail and the North Oconee River Greenway

    1.5+ MILES

    Run the Heritage Trail, a gently-rolling, scenic, paved trail through Dudley Park near the UGA campus. Interpretive signs and artifacts along the trail illustrate Athens history, and multiple spots catch beautiful views of the North Oconee River. Up for more mileage? From Dudley Park, continue following the North Oconee River Greenway 3.5 miles along the river before connecting to the unpaved Cook’s Trail at Sandy Creek Nature Center.

  • Top places to hike and run near Athens, GA: the State Botanical Garden of Georgia offers more than six miles of scenic trails

    State Botanical Garden of Georgia

    1 – 6+ MILES

    Hit the trail on one of the top running spots near the UGA campus. The State Botanical Garden of Georgia offers many miles of trails, with seven color-coded, well-marked trails perfect for a trail run or hike on the property’s rolling 313 acres. Run the orange and white trails on a 4.4-mile loop on the banks of the Middle Oconee River for a scenic, gently rolling trail run.

  • Fort Yargo State Park: top hiking trails near Athens, Georgia

    Lake Loop Trail at Fort Yargo State Park

    5 – 7 MILES

    Fort Yargo’s expansive, 260-acre lake is the highlight of this scenic state park near Winder, GA. Fort Yargo’s Lake Loop Trail catches nearly-continuous lake views as it rings the lake, visiting a historic log cabin (Yargo’s ‘fort’) and catching some beautiful sunsets from the lake’s shore. The trail rolls gently, making it a perfect running spot for beginner trail runners, and crosses an extended wooden bridge near the lake’s western shore. Check out our Fort Yargo Destination Guide for more ways to play (and stay) at this great state park.

  • Explore the Bird Berry Trail at Fort Yargo State Park near Athens, GA, a short kid-friendly hiking and nature trail with beautiful scenic views

    Bird Berry Trail at Fort Yargo State Park

    .9 MILE

    At just under one mile, round trip, the Bird Berry Trail is one of the shorter options for an outdoor adventure near Athens – but it’s easily one of the prettiest. This trail is kid-friendly, wheelchair-friendly and packed with scenic beauty, exploring a wildlife-filled cove on the lake at Fort Yargo State Park. Don’t miss the remains of a small wooden fort, built in the late 1700s, near the Bird Berry Trail parking area.

  • Hiking gear list: our favorite backpacks and trail essentials

    Our favorite hiking gear

    What to pack?

    Ready to hit the trail, but wondering what to pack? Our hiking gear list features our favorite, trail-tested hiking gear for day hikes on local trails and in the Georgia backcountry. Our Atlanta Trails shirts and longsleeves are printed our ultra-soft tri-blend Trailful shirts, and they’re our favorite for trail adventures all over the South. Our outdoor apparel reviews feature our favorite trail-worthy hiking boots, running shoes, jackets, and layering essentials for the South. And no matter what you pack in, pack it all back out. Please leave no trace and help preserve Georgia’s beauty.