Hike or run the Kennesaw Mountain 24 Gun Trail and Environmental Trail, exploring Kenesaw Mountain’s lower elevations, a rocky, rolling forest, and the site of a fortified Civil War Union camp.
The 24 Gun Trail is one of Kennesaw Mountain’s newest trails, opened in 2014. Unlike the park’s popular trail to the Kennesaw Mountain summit, there are no stunning, sweeping views on the trail, and the route runs close to the often-busy Stilesboro Road. But this trail is worth a visit: it explores a fern-filled rolling forest, several small creeks and a line of large, easily-recognizable earthworks used by Union troops during the Civil War.
Combined with the Kennesaw Mountain Environmental Trail, this two-trail adventure explores a beautiful forest on Kennesaw’s northwestern face, escaping the nearby traffic noise. These two trails combine to offer an excellent, gently rolling hike or unpaved trail run that’s rich with history and natural beauty.
Kennesaw Mountain 24 Gun Trail: the hike
The adventure departs from the Environmental Trail trailhead at the Kennesaw Mountain picnic area (view maps and driving directions), hiking a short, westbound hike on the Environmental Trail to reach the 24 Gun trailhead. The route veers right at the first trail intersection, the trail framed with rustic split-rail fence and blanketed with pine needles.
The hike reaches the 24 Gun Trailhead at .35 mile, veering right to hike the 24 Gun Trail. The route crosses a small wood bridge before crossing a paved road at .5 mile. Though sounds from the nearby road are nearly continuous, the forest terrain is beautiful: fern and wildflowers blanket the forest floor in warmer months, catching dappled sunlight from the pine and deciduous forest canopy above.
The trail drops elevation, descending stone stairs and crossing two wood bridges over creeks at .8 mile and .9 mile. Moss-covered rocks and fallen tree branches line the creeks, the brilliant green moss a contrast to the orange, muddy stream bed below. The trail climbs elevation from the second bridge, meandering through the forest.
A line of mounded, crescent-shaped earthworks begins at 1.1 miles. Union troops dug these fortifications during the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain to protect cannon stationed here – a strong line of artillery against the Confederate Troops above. The fortifications’ still-defined crescent shape protected the guns and artillerymen from enemy fire – and a dip in the center allowed the cannon’s barrel to extend outside. (To preserve the earthworks, please stay on the trail and view them from a distance.)
The hike reaches a large, grassy clearing at 1.2 miles, the site of a Union encampment. Tall grasses wave gently in the meadow’s open expanse as birds of prey soar overhead, searching for prey in the field below.
The trail crosses a small clearing before reaching a gravel road at 1.5 miles, the trail’s end. The hike doubles back on its outbound trek, retracing its steps to Kennesaw Mountain’s Environmental Trail. The hike reaches the 24 Gun Trail and Environmental Trail intersection at 2.6 miles.
The hike turns right, following the Environmental Trail in a wide, southbound loop on Kennesaw Mountain’s lower elevations. Throughout the Environmental Loop, signs mark the forest’s wide variety of sky-reaching trees and explain the forest’s history and ecology – a great, educational hike for children and adults alike. The trail explores the banks of a creek at 3 miles before climbing elevation through a boulder-filled slope, completing the loop at 3.5 miles. The hike veers right at the loop’s end, hiking toward the Kennesaw Mountain picnic area and reaching the trailhead at 3.6 miles, completing the hike.
Up for more Kennesaw Mountain adventure?
Check out our Kennesaw Mountain Trail Guide for more of our favorite hiking and running trails across Kennesaw Mountain’s summits, shady forest, and battlefields.
Always leave no trace, pack out everything you pack in, and if you see trash, pick it up and pack it out.
Stay on the marked trail, tell someone where you're going, pack safety and wayfinding essentials, and don't rely on a mobile phone to find your way. Please always practice good trail etiquette. And before you go, always check the trailhead kiosk, official maps, and the park or ranger office for notices of changed routes, trail closures, safety information, and restrictions.
Love the trail?
This trail is maintained thanks to the hard work of countless volunteers and donations from supporters of the Kennesaw Mountain Trail Club. Please support them by making a donation or joining a volunteer day. Let's work together to keep these fantastic trails maintained and open for use!
Beginning November 13, 2019, the National Park Service will be charging a $5 per vehicle entrance fee with a $40 annual pass option at Kennesaw Mountain.
33.983133, -84.579083 // N33 58.988 W84 34.745