Red Top Mountain State Park: hiking the Iron Hill Loop Trail
Hike, run or bike the Iron Hill Loop Trail at Red Top Mountain State Park, exploring a scenic lake peninsula and quiet cove on Allatoona Lake, just north of Atlanta.
This scenic adventure explores the meandering shoreline of Lake Allatoona on the southern end of Red Top Mountain State Park in North Georgia. And though it’s around half of the distance compared to the popular Homestead Loop at Red Top Mountain, the Iron Hill Loop packs easily double the scenic lakeside beauty in a fraction of the length. It’s a view-packed trail, catching view after stunning lake view throughout the hike.
The Iron Hill Trail’s wide, graveled path and wooden bridges are well-loved by hikers, trail runners and mountain bikers. If you’re on foot (especially with younger hikers, or four-legged hiking buddies on a leash), keep an eye out for bikes, and give them plenty of room to pass.
A bit of caution is well worth the effort: the shoreline views are stunning on this popular hike. The Iron Hill Trail grabs nearly continual lakeside views, exploring the lake’s shoreline, inlets and a small peninsula. And across the water, the hike catches beautiful, reflective views of rolling peaks of Red Top Mountain and its surrounding summits.
Red Top Mountain Iron Hill Trail: the hike
A wide, gravel trail departs westbound from the trailhead (view maps and driving directions), following a short spur to the Iron Hill Loop and veering right to hike the loop counterclockwise. The hike follows blue trail blazes, winding through a young hardwood forest and steadily descending elevation to the shore of Lake Allatoona.
Reaching the lake’s shore, the trail follows the scenic shoreline and catches view after view. Throughout much of the trail’s length, wooden bridges span the deep-cut ravines on the lake’s shore, making the route fairly level and moderate. And picnic tables with campfire rings dot the sides of the trail, a great venue for a mid-hike picnic.
The trail winds and meanders through a series of curves, following the lake’s winding shore, before reaching the end of the Iron Hill peninsula at 1.9 miles.
Lake Allatoona’s shoreline is especially beautiful in the evening as the sun begins to dip towards the horizon. The golden cast of the afternoon sun filters through the tree leaves on the trail and reflects a colorful cast on the lake’s calm surface.
If you stay for sunset, remember that the park locks the trailhead gate at dark; be sure to give plenty of time to return to the trailhead before twilight ends. Departing the peninsula, the hike continues to follow the Iron Hill loop counter-clockwise, exploring the shore of a second cove. The hike’s final stretch to return to the trailhead is nearly all uphill. After climbing steadily, the trail reaches the parking area at 3.8 miles, completing the adventure.
More Red Top Mountain and Lake Allatoona hiking adventures
In the park with daylight (and energy) left to burn? Explore more stunning views of Allatoona’s shores on the Red Top Mountain Homestead Trail. Or visit a historic cabin and quiet cove on the lake’s shore on the Red Top Lakeside Trail, a kid-friendly, paved, ADA-accessible path.
Climb to stunning views of the lake, and on a clear day, sight the Atlanta skyline from the nearby summit of Pine Mountain, hiking a figure-eight loop on the Pine Mountain Trail. Or check out more of our favorite nearby trails on our Lake Allatoona running and hiking trail guide.
Red Top Mountain Iron Hill Loop Trail Map, Directions & Details
$5 (daily), or included with a Georgia State Parks annual pass.
34.139550, -84.700383 // N34 08.373 W84 42.023
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