Hike the Pine Log Creek Trail to a historic, rocky, water-filled quarry and through a rolling, mossy forest north of Georgia’s Allatoona Lake.
The Pine Log Creek Trail winds through a beautifully rugged, rolling forest on a double loop, trailing through a forest of shady pine and deciduous trees north of Lake Allatoona. The hike’s highlight is undoubtedly the remote, water-filled pond on Pine Log Creek’s eastern loop, where crystal-clear, chilly water fills the remains of a historic rock quarry framed in giant, jagged rock outcrops. The quarry’s geology is stunning: the exposed rock is layered and dramatically folded, in symmetry with the rippling waters of the quarry pond. Fish bask in rays of sunshine in the quarry’s shallows, and tall grasses line its shores. It’s a picturesque retreat and the perfect place for a mid-hike picnic.
Pine Log Creek is steeped in history, the former location of a Cherokee town that spanned one mile along the creek’s level, fertile banks. The village’s history spanned centuries: Spanish explorer De Soto visited the village in 1570, Chief Yellow Bird signed the Treaty of Hopewell here in 1785. Centuries later, many important Cherokee chieftains, including Ridge, Vann, and Hicks, were born in the thriving village. More recently, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camped nearby and created the rock quarry on the trail’s eastern arc.
Pine Log Creek Trail: the hike
The Pine Log Creek Trail departs the trailhead parking area off GA 140 north of Cartersville (view maps and driving directions), trailing into a young forest of pine and deciduous trees. The hike reaches the wide, pebbled, meandering banks of Pine Log Creek at .2 miles, crossing the creek on a V-shaped bridge hewn from a large log. The creek is scenic and shaded; watch for small fish swimming in its flow, and crayfish scurrying on creek’s rocky bed.
After crossing the bridge, the forest becomes more predominantly coniferous, and the fresh scent of pine fills the air as the pine needle-covered forest floor crunches underfoot. The hike crosses a small wooden bridge at .4 miles just before reaching the beginning of the trail’s western loop. The hike turns right, following the west loop eastbound and rising through a forest littered with large, angular boulders.
The trail rolls elevation, descending to the banks of Pine Log Creek at .85 mile. The creek flows broadly through a meander, carving deep into its steep-sided, rocky banks. (Hiking with your favorite four-legged canine trail buddy? Several deep sections of the creek offer a great mid-hike swim for dogs before reaching the quarry pond.)
Arcing northbound, the Pine Log Creek Trail crosses another small wooden bridge and passes a broad-trunked, old growth tulip tree just before reaching the spur trail to the trail’s eastern loop at 1.2 miles.
The hike turns right, crossing a wooden bridge over a stream and trekking the spur trail to Pine Log Creek Trail’s eastern loop. The hike veers right at the next intersection, following the East Loop in a counterclockwise direction. The trail climbs a knob, catching through-the-trees views of the surrounding rolling peaks in a forest of young pine and dense fern. The trail carves through a sharp switchback, passing a moss-covered pile of tumbled quarry boulders at 1.9 miles before reaching the spur trail to the CCC quarry pond at 2 miles.
The hike hangs a right on the CCC quarry spur trail, reaching the small quarry pond. Angular rocks rise from the shore, dramatically framing the still water of the quarry. The spur trail arcs around the pond, visiting the folded, ribbonlike rock formations on the opposite shore.
Backtracking from the quarry pond, the hike turns right on the trail’s eastern loop, climbing a ridge before completing the east loop at 2.68 miles. The hike hangs a right, hiking westbound on the spur trail toward the western loop and hanging a right on the west loop.
Ready for a workout? The final stretch of the Pine Log Creek Trail is moderately challenging, ascending over 300 feet of elevation over the next half mile. The trail crosses a wood bridge at 2.85 miles, continuously climbing northwest. The hike arcs westbound at 3.15 miles, the forest becoming increasingly rockier as it approaches the summit. Dense, vibrant green moss carpets the sunlight-dappled forest floor.
The trail peaks at 3.35 miles before beginning a descent. The trail meanders through switchbacks as it descends, catching between-the-trees views of the densely forested nearby ridges. The hike reaches a wooden bench at 3.6 miles, scoring rolling mountain views through a partial clearing.
The trail continues its descent, winding through switchbacks before completing the western loop at 3.9 miles. The hike veers right, following the Pine Log Creek Trail to the parking area, crossing the v-shaped bridge over Pine Log Creek and completing the hike at 4.4 miles.
More hiking and trail running adventures near Allatoona Lake
In the area with daylight and energy to spare? Explore more of the Cartersville area’s beautiful mountains, lakes, and streams on our favorite trails near Allatoona Lake, including our all-time favorite trails at Red Top Mountain State Park and the double loop to epic summit views on the Pine Mountain Trail.
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34.348367, -84.664700 // N34 20.902 W84 39.882