Atlanta Trails shirts: locally made & inspired by great Georgia adventures

Hike Stone Mountain’s Walk-Up and Cherokee Trails, climbing to exceptional views from the mountain’s summit before looping the mountain’s lake on a scenic six-mile adventure.

georgia hiking trails: 6 or more miles 6.8 miles
(round trip)
? Your mileage may vary! Accuracy of your GPS device, weather conditions, and stops along your route will affect your own recorded distance.
georgia hiking trails: moderate to difficultmore
difficult
?Our difficulty estimate, based on distance, terrain, elevation change, & ease of wayfinding. May vary daily due to weather, trail reroutes, downed trees, etc.
georgia hiking trails: no dogs allowed No dogs
allowed
?Due to park regulations, no dogs are allowed on this trail. Check out our favorite dog-friendly trails in Georgia for a great hike with your pup.

LOCATION:Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta, Georgia

GEAR: REI Flash 18 Backpack, our hiking gear list and Canon 6D Camera

WEAR: Our ultra-soft Atlanta Trails shirts and mountain logo hats

RATED: 4.3/5 (3 reviews)

Minutes east of downtown Atlanta, the massive, gray dome of Stone Mountain towers over the city’s gently rolling urban landscape. The mountain rises high from the horizon, visible from much of metro Atlanta.

The mountain is nestled in the 3200-acre Stone Mountain Park, a gated green outdoor playground filled with attractions, campgrounds, glassy lakes and many miles of hiking and running trails. The park blends urban and natural, offering both beautiful swaths of forest and exceptional mountaintop views and a plethora of attractions and amenities.

Stone Mountain Trail and Cherokee Trail: top hikes in Atlanta, Georgia

This ultra-scenic adventure hikes two of the mountain’s most popular trails, the Stone Mountain Walk-Up Trail and the Cherokee Trail, logging nearly 7 miles and bagging some exceptional sights. Combined, the two trails offer sweeping views from the often-busy summit before dropping looping the mountain on a lesser-traveled loop. You’ll catch views of the mountain’s reflection in a glassy lake, cross an earthen dam, explore a creek-filled forest, and pass a small waterfall. You’ll visit a historic covered bridge, a historic mill, and the stacked stone chimney of a building long gone. And it makes an equally great hike or challenging trail run.

Hike Stone Mountain's Walk-Up and Cherokee Trails, climbing to exceptional views from the mountain's summit before looping the mountain's lake on a scenic six-mile adventure. #hiking #running #trailrunning #atlanta #georgia #travel #outdoors #adventure

Stone Mountain Trail: the hike

The hike begins on the popular Walk-Up Trail at the base of the mountain (view maps and driving directions), traveling westbound. The trail gains elevation, rising nearly continuously to the mountain’s summit, climbing through swaths of smooth granite and boulder-filled terrain. Wildflowers, pine trees, and grasses grab root in the shallow basins of soil dotting the mountain’s surface.

The hike passes an intersection with the Cherokee Trail at .25 mile, continuing its upward, southeast-bound climb to the mountain’s summit. The trail passes a pavilion at .6 mile. The climb steepens considerably as the trail climbs between two metal handrails at .75 mile, soon catching the first views of the summit.

Stone Mountain: hike beautiful panoramic views from Atlanta's immense, domed summit

The trail crests at 1 mile. Spectacular panoramic views stretch in all directions, the Atlanta skyline visible on the far western horizon. Shallow basins, often filled with water after a rain shower, dot the summit’s expansive, rocky surface. Stone Mountain Lake is visible to the east, hugging the base of the enormous, domed mountain.

Though views at the summit are plentiful, crowds of people are often plentiful as well. There’s an alternate route to the top via gondola, and the large interpretive center also houses a snack bar that offers popcorn and frozen candy bars. (Our by-far favorite times to visit the summit are at sunrise and sunset when the views are simply incredible, and the crowds have usually thinned.)

Stone Mountain Cherokee Trail

After soaking in the sublime views, the hike departs the summit, seeking solitude. The hike retraces the Walk-Up Trail, descending the mountain to the Cherokee Trail.

The hike reaches the Cherokee trailhead at 1.85 miles, hanging a left to hike the Cherokee Trail southbound, following its white trail blazes. The trail hugs the mountain’s lower elevations, crossing through sparse pine forest and wide-open, sun-drenched, rocky landscapes peppered with wind-blown wildflowers, flowering trees and grasses. The hike crosses a gravel road at 2 miles, catching another view of the city, before descending into a mossy, creek-filled forest. The trail crosses railroad tracks at 2.25 miles just before passing an old chimney of an abandoned homesite.

Stone Mountain Cherokee Trail: top Atlanta hikes

The trail crosses a paved road at 2.6 miles before reaching the glassy waters of a small lake, Howell Lake. Just after skirting the lake’s shore, the hike veers left at a fork to continue hiking the Cherokee Trail loop and crosses a small, trickling creek via a wooden bridge. The hike crosses a small creek via stepping stones at 3 miles, just before reaching the shore of Venable Lake. The lake’s shore offers plentiful views of the mountain’s towering presence, the massive dome reflecting in the lake’s rippling waters. This stretch of the trail is a perfect place to hang a hammock, soak in the views and relax lakeside under the forest’s leafy, shady canopy.

The Cherokee Trail crosses a wooden bridge 3.9 miles, veering northeast to trek across an earthen dam. After crossing the dam, the hike hangs a right, continuing its journey on the Cherokee Trail. The trail skirts the lake’s shore, catching nearly continuous lake views before reaching the park’s historic wooden covered bridge at 4.7 miles. After passing the covered bridge, the trail hikes a stone path along the lake’s shore before veering westbound to the park’s historic wooden mill.

Stone Mountain Cherokee Trail: hike to a historic wooden mill on the shore of Stone Mountain Lake near Atlanta

After passing the historic mill, the trail hikes northbound, following a small stream along the mill’s chase. The trail arcs westbound, crossing a paved road before crossing train tracks at 5.3 miles. The trail follows a gravel road the park’s maintenance facilities at 5.6 miles before darting back into the woods and passing through the park’s often-busy auditorium area.

The trail soon dives back into forest cover, meandering through a young deciduous forest and skirting the mountain’s base. The hike begins an ascent, crossing through a rocky landscape and passing through groves of flowering trees and clusters of wildflowers. The Cherokee Trail intersects the Walk-Up Trail at 6.6 miles. The hike hangs a right, descending on the Walk-Up Trail to the trailhead, and completing the adventure.

(There’s a Stone Mountain in North Carolina, too – located in DuPont State Recreational Forest near Brevard, south of Asheville. It’s a gorgeous hike to a similarly domed summit, but unlike Atlanta’s iconic dome, it’s mostly forested.)


Stone Mountain Walk-Up Trail and Cherokee Trail Map, Directions & Details

Trails and routes may change – so please refer to official trail maps for the latest route.

Trail Rating

RATED: 4.3/5 (3 reviews)

Updates

Did you have trouble accessing the trail, or notice some recent trail updates or storm damage? We'd love to know! Contact us here, and thanks for helping us keep this site updated!

Driving Directions



Parking

$15 per car (daily), or $40 per car with a Stone Mountain Park annual pass.

Dogs are not allowed on Stone Mountain's Walk-Up Trail.


GPS Coordinates

33.81112,-84.161197     //     N33 48.667 W84 09.672

Elevation Profile

Stone Mountain Trail: Walk-Up and Cherokee Trails Elevation
 
 
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Eric Champlin
Author

Eric Champlin is a writer and photographer who loves to hike, run, backpack, kayak and cycle the southeast. He’s the editor and founder of Atlanta Trails, Asheville Trails, and Trailful, digital magazines that highlight the South’s best outdoor adventures and top Southern-worthy outdoor gear. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.