Explore Constitution Lakes Park, hiking nature preserve boardwalks to glassy lake views and exploring whimsical displays of found-object artwork on the park’s memorable Doll’s Head Trail.
Scenic, artistic, and a bit unusual: it’s one of Atlanta’s most unique hiking adventures. This multi-trail adventure at Constitution Lakes Park crosses paved paths, unpaved trails, and boardwalks through scenic, wildlife-filled wetlands, catching views of several small, marshy lakes. The Doll’s Head Trail, a short loop in the middle of this adventure, is an ultra-unique experience, a short hike through displays of bricks, toys, and tiles found at the park. The trail winds through the forest and exploring collections of found objects, washed from the banks of the nearby South River, now artfully and whimsically arranged in displays of folk art and culture.
Now an urban nature preserve, this park was once the site of a 19th-century brick company that excavated Georgia’s famous red clay. The excavation pits, now filled with water, comprise the duo of the Constitution Lakes. This easy, gently rolling, just-under-two-mile loop explores nature habitats on the two lakes via long boardwalks, and a variety of creative, weird, and sometimes slightly creepy works of art.
If you go, snakes seem to thrive in the wetlands, so be on the lookout – you’ll likely see a few. Early mornings can be a particularly beautiful time to visit when the blankets of fog cover the lakes. And remember to watch for wildlife: waterfowl can often be spotted in the marsh.
Constitution Lakes Park Doll’s Head Loop: the hike
The hike begins at the Constitution Lakes Park trailhead (view maps and driving directions), following the paved trail eastbound to hike the loop clockwise. The trail’s first quarter mile is paved, leading to the first of several extended boardwalks and the beginning of the Doll’s Head Loop.
The hike reaches the boardwalk at .4 mile and veers right to an overlook over the marshy lake. Departing the overlook, the adventure resumes its eastbound journey.
After reaching the end of the boardwalk, the hike nears the Doll’s Head trailhead, a charming little doll arm pointing you in the right direction (right). The hike continues along the red pebble path until reaching another sign ushering you to the left, where the Doll’s Head Trail begins. The trail features creative works of art found at the park, the vision of Atlanta resident Joel Slaton.
Signs encourage hikers to contribute their own art to the trail – but ask that you only use items found in the park. The art installations combine black Sharpie marker ink with an eclectic, eccentric collection of found art, ranging from bits of vintage children’s toys and fishing gear to antique bricks and railroad artifacts.
Reaching the southern end of the Doll’s Head Trail, the hike hangs a right and then a quick left at two intersections, following a bowling pin sign to the boardwalk. At 1 mile, reaching the boardwalk and exiting the forest, a beautiful view opens of the glassy wetland waters of Constitution Lakes.
Looping back to the trailhead
The hike strolls across the boardwalk, connecting through a shady forest to the Seven Bridges Trail, this loop hike’s second half. Nearing the trail’s end at 1.5 miles, the hike follows a sign to the creatively named “Sweetwater Goak” tree, a large, double-trunked Sweetgum and Water Oak hybrid. The trail reaches the Constitution Lakes Park trailhead and parking area at 1.6 miles, completing the fun-filled adventure.
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Free parking is available at the Constitution Lakes Park trailhead. The park is open 7 am to sunset.
33.68254, -84.34454 // N33 40.95240, W84 20.67240