Sneak away to the trees in Little Mulberry Park and escape the hustle and bustle of metro Atlanta with this heart-pumping trail run on the East Mulberry Trail.
LOCATION:Gwinnett County, north of Atlanta, Georgia
Little Mulberry Park is one of Gwinnett County’s best-kept secrets. At over 890 acres, the park is home to over 14 miles of quiet trails, vast meadows, peaceful lakes, recreational opportunities, and scenic views. Nature lovers and trail runners alike love the park’s East Mulberry Trail loop, where opportunities to observe plants and wildlife in solitude are plenty. The trail also offers quite a bit of elevation change, making for a great workout.
This is an equally great beginner-friendly trail run or in-town hike with a huge dose of natural beauty. New to trail running? Check out our beginner’s guide to trail running for tips on getting started, trail safety and our favorite trail running gear before you hit the trail.
Little Mulberry Park: the run
Thanks to an extensive trail network, the park offers some different route options and trail adventures. This trail run begins at the park’s Fence Road entrance (view maps and driving directions). The trailhead features ample parking, a park map, bathrooms, picnic tables, a playground, and a water fountain for you and your four-legged running (or hiking) buddy. The run follows a paved trail towards the playground. Just before reaching the playground, the route veers left, and then takes an immediate right on the East Meadow Trail, trailing through a meadow. At .25 miles, the run reaches a fork intersection with multiple route options. The run continues northeast, then immediately proceed left at the next fork, just a few short steps from the first, continuing northward towards the Carriage Trail.
The run reaches the paved Carriage Trail at .4 mile, and follows the Carriage Trail, descending steadily through a tree-lined path towards the East Meadow Trail. Remember to watch for wildlife! Deer often graze in the grassy meadows on either side of the trail.
At .6 mile, the Carriage Trail intersects the East Mulberry Trail, passing a picnic table on the trail’s right side. This run turns left, following the East Mulberry Trail westbound and looping counter-clockwise. (Note: the East Mulberry Trail doubles as an equestrian trail, so watch your step, use caution, and respect the animals if you see them.) The trail quickly narrows to rocky single track, reminiscent of stretches of the Georgia Appalachian Trail several hours north. The trail meanders across small trickling creek beds, and up and over heart pumping hills. Light dances through the trees and the scent of wildflowers float in the air. As the run dives through the lush forest, it’s easy to forget you’re anywhere near the city!
The hike slowly gains elevation for the next mile. Approximately 1.4 miles in, the route takes an easterly turn, catching a glimpse of one of the park’s vast meadows through the trees to your left. (This meadow connects to the parking lot if you need a quick exit back to your car.) At just over 2 miles, the trail passes a bench on the right, and a small side trail shortly after on trail left. The side trail leads to a rocky outcrop with views of the surrounding tree canopy, a particularly nice treat in the fall when the colors have transitioned to fiery hues of gold, yellow, red and orange.
The trail begins a steady descent of switchbacks towards the bottom of the park. At roughly 2.4 miles, an unmarked side trail exits to the left; proceed right to stay on the East Mulberry Trail. Reaching the Carriage Trail again at 2.6 miles, the trail run reaches the bottom of Little Mulberry Park. Time to climb back up! The route takes a left onto the pavement, and then an immediate right back onto East Mulberry Trail. (Alternately, turn right on Carriage Trail instead for a shorter, but hard, jaunt up the steep .66 mile paved trail to the finish, passing a small seasonal waterfall on the way.)
At 2.7 miles, a spur trail exits left to the equestrian parking lot. This run proceeds straight to stay on East Mulberry Trail loop. During rainy seasons, the trail offers through-the-tree views of a trickling tributary creek. For the next half mile, the trail climbs steadily through the forest. At 3.2 miles, the run follows the exit trail to the right (marked E10). At 3.5 miles, the run turns right, descending steadily. Reaching the paved Carriage Trail, the run turns left, retracing its outbound steps back towards the trailhead and parking area, completing the run.
Post-run (or hike), there’s a nice large swing at the top of the meadow just a step off of the pavement. Pack a refreshing snack and drink, kick back, take in the peaceful views and stay awhile. You’ve earned it!
Nearby running and hiking trails
Looking for another great trail run (or hike) in Gwinnett County? The Suwannee Greenway follows pavement and boardwalk through scenic marsh and forest, spanning just over 6 miles, round trip. Extend your Suwannee Greenway run on the Ivy Creek Greenway, exploring a wildlife-filled wetland and running over an ultra-scenic, meandering wooden boardwalk. Explore the paved and unpaved trails at Yellow River Park in southern Gwinnett, near Stone Mountain, catching scenic views of the placid Yellow River. Grab a fantastic, gently rolling run at the ultra-popular Tribble Mill Park. And rack up the miles while skipping crosswalks and sidewalks on our top ten favorite running trails in Atlanta.
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34.039967, -83.877367 // N34 02.398 W83 52.642