Laurel Ridge Trail and Cooper's Furnace Trail Loop: hiking at Allatoona Dam Georgia Hiking Trails

Laurel Ridge Trail and Cooper’s Furnace

Hike a scenic loop on the Laurel Ridge Trail and Cooper's Furnace Trail, exploring a historic, stacked-stone iron furnace and climbing to high-elevation views of Allatoona Lake, the Etowah River and Allatoona Dam.

trail info

1.85 miles
(round trip)
moderate
Dog-
friendly

LOCATION:Lake Allatoona, near Cartersville, Georgia (maps & directions)

GEAR: REI Flash 18 Backpack w/ our favorite hiking gear list and Canon 6D Camera

A historic iron furnace stands at the trailhead of the Cooper’s Furnace Trail, towering, pyramid-like, in stacked stone formation along the banks of the grassy Etowah River. The furnace is all that remains of the town of Etowah, a historic Georgia town mostly destroyed during the Civil War, and today lies flooded under the waters of Allatoona Lake. This visits the furnace and follows the Laurel Ridge Trail to catch some outstanding views of the river, lake, and several miles of scenic, stream-filled forest.

This two-trail duo near Cartersville packs a ton of scenic beauty (and history) into a short, relatively moderate two-mile loop. After visiting the historic remains of the furnace, the hike follows a trickling stream along a 19th-century railroad bed, passing a small beaver-dammed pond and climbing through a rocky forest. After crossing a long wooden span bridge, the hike climbs to an overlook near Allatoona Dam, scoring beautiful elevated views of the lake, the Etowah River Valley, and the stacked-stone furnace far below.

Hike the Laurel Ridge Trail to beautiful views of the Etowah River, Cooper's Furnace and Allatoona Lake just north of Atlanta, GA

Fantastic views. Historic features. And several miles of moderate, well-maintained trail through a scenic, stream-filled, rocky forest. It’s a great, family-friendly day hike by itself – and an equally great cool-down after a hike on the nearby Pine Mountain Trail.

Laurel Ridge Trail: the hike

The hike departs from the shores of the Etowah River (view maps and driving directions), catching views of the wide-flowing, grassy river from the parking area. Pavilions and wide, grassy expanses make for a great post-hike picnic.

The Cooper Furnace trailhead is located near the towering remains of the stone furnace, just past a metal gate. The hike climbs from the trailhead, following a wide, gravel roadbed along a trickling stream. Less than .1 mile into the hike, a side trail departs to the left, leading to a short ridge overlooking the furnace. This route continues northbound, following the teal-blazed trail along the grassy, trickling creek.

Hike to the enormous, pyramid-like remains of Cooper's Furnace on the Laurel Ridge Trail just north of Atlanta

The hike reaches a small, glassy pond at .2 mile, veering left at the trail intersection. The trail climbs through a lush fern and wildflower-filled forest, ascending beside large, blocky rock outcrops and curving eastbound. The climb intensifies before the trail reaches an intersection at .6 miles.

This hike turns right at the intersection, following the red-blazed Laurel Ridge Trail and climbing to a series of wooden overlooks with views of the rocky, mixed pine and hardwood forest below. The hike is especially beautiful in spring when the trail’s thickets of mountain laurel bloom in abundance. The trail crosses a wooden span bridge over a deep-carved valley at .9 mile.

After crossing the bridge, the trail rolls elevation, meandering through the forest. The hike reaches the trail’s end at 1.1 miles, turning left on a gravel road to hike eastbound to the Allatoona Dam overlook. The trail passes a visitor center just before cresting at 1.25 mile, catching expansive, elevated views of the dam and deep, blue waters of Allatoona Lake to the east. To the west, an overlook offers gorgeous views of the Etowah River Valley and a high-elevation view of the furnace.

Hike the Laurel Ridge Trail north of Atlanta to beautiful views of Allatoona Dam, the Etowah River, and Allatoona Lake

Departing the overlook, the hike retraces its steps on the gravel road, hiking westbound. The route passes the junction with the Laurel Ridge Trail, continuing to follow the travel road as it winds and veers northwest. After a steady descent, the gravel roadbed reaches the beaver-dammed pond, turning left to hike the Cooper’s Furnace Trail to the trailhead.

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Laurel Ridge Trail and Cooper's Furnace Loop Map, Directions & Details

Laurel Ridge Trail and Cooper's Furnace Loop Map
Laurel Ridge Trail and Cooper's Furnace Loop Map
This map is not a substitute for official trail maps or topographic maps.

Driving Directions


Parking

Free parking is available at the trailhead.

GPS Coordinates

34.165554, -84.733529     //     N34 09.929 W84 44.013

Elevation Profile

Cooper's Furnace and Laurel Ridge Trail Elevation Profile
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Please Remember

Always leave no trace, tell someone where you're going, pack safety and wayfinding essentials, don't rely on a mobile phone to find your way, and follow these trail etiquette tips.

 
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 and Asheville Trails, online magazines that cover the South’s best outdoor adventures. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.
 
 
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