Gently lapping the sinuous meanders of its red-tinged shores, Lake Allatoona is an incredibly scenic spot to catch some sublime water views near metro Atlanta. And nestled on one of the lake’s large, finger-like peninsulas lies Red Top Mountain, one of Georgia’s most popular state parks. Sprawling several thousand acres, the park is home to a handful of fantastic hiking and running trails that wind and meander over its gently rolling forests and beside Allatoona’s iron-rich shores.
Red Top Mountain State Park is well-loved by boaters for its lake access, offering multiple boat ramps and docks, as well as a marina, for easy access to the rippling waters of the lake. The park also offers a sandy swimming beach that’s a favorite destination for families looking to escape Georgia’s legendary summertime swelter. While the water is a major draw for many visiting the park, Red Top’s trail network offers an incentive to explore by land, too. Songbirds, turtles, and herds of deer thrive in the park’s many forested acres that frame Allatoona’s shores with tall pines. Patches of ferns and wildflowers thrive on the sun-dappled forest floor. The park’s trails wind through the forest, catching beautiful reflective views from the lakeshore, and offering a fantastic spot for a scenic trail run or hike near the lake. It’s a great destination for a scenic run or hike – and multiple access points along the lake make for a fantastic spot for a mid-hike swim for our water-loving Labrador retrievers.
Red Top Mountain: our favorite trails
These are our favorite trail adventures at the park, ranging in distance and difficulty from an easy lakeside stroll to the park’s historic log cabins to a moderately challenging five-mile loop on the Homestead Trail, the park’s longest and most difficult route. Whichever you choose for your adventure, please remember to always leave no trace to help protect the park’s beauty and its natural habitats.
.75 MILEIt’s the park’s shortest trail adventure, but this ADA-accessible trail sure doesn’t skimp on interest and beauty. This just-under-one-mile paved path loops through pine forest and tall grasses, catching beautiful view after view along Allatoona’s shore. Ducking under a leafy canopy of spindly hardwoods, the trail reaches a historic log cabin from the 1800s and its neighboring log blacksmith shop, adding some historical interest to the hike. The Lakeside Trail also makes for a great finish to a run on the park’s roads, and the reflections of the opposite shore of the lake offer the perfect vista for a post-run cool-off and stretch.
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Iron Hill Trail
3.8 MILESThe Iron Hill Loop offers incredibly scenic route along Allatoona’s shores, following the meandering lake shoreline on a wooded peninsula. The trail is named for the reddish iron-rich soil that’s prevalent throughout the park and lends to the mountain’s Red Top name, reflecting its history as a venue for mining iron ore. This loop is a shared mountain biking and hiking trail, so if you follow it on foot, be courteous and cautious of riders along the route. The trail crosses wooden boardwalks and bridges as it winds over shallow valleys and gullies on the lake shore, and passes several scenic picnic areas along the route.
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5.3 MILESIt’s the longest, most scenic, and most workout-worthy trail at Red Top Mountain, and our all-time favorite. Follow the Homestead Trail over varied terrain, exploring a ferny forest, wildlife habitats, and catching beautiful lake views along the way. It’s a great warm-weather hike, thanks to easy lake access for a cool-off dip, and one of our favorite places for a summertime hike with our trail-loving dogs.
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Our favorite hiking gear
What to pack for your adventure?Ready to hit the trail, but wondering what to pack? Our hiking gear list features our favorite, trail-tested hiking gear for day hikes on local trails and in the Georgia backcountry. We print and stitch our Atlanta Trails shirts and hats locally in Atlanta and Asheville, and they’re our favorite for trail adventures all over the South. Our outdoor apparel reviews feature our favorite trail-worthy hiking boots, running shoes, jackets, and layering essentials for the South. And no matter what you pack in, pack it all back out. Please leave no trace and help preserve Georgia’s beauty.
OUR HIKING GEAR LIST
Nearby hiking adventures
In the area with energy left to burn? Don’t miss the fantastic nearby hike on the Pine Mountain Trail, a four-mile double loop to a rocky mountaintop with stunning views of Red Top Mountain and Allatoona’s indigo waters. And check out the full list of our favorite trails near Lake Allatoona for even more adventures near Cartersville.