Top Five Day Hikes in the Greater Atlanta Area
Sope Creek Trail
The Sope Creek Trail is in East Cobb, and leads you to the creek where there are the remains of a Civil War-era mill. There are many trails you can take in the recreation area. Bring a sack lunch and eat it on the rocks in the middle of the creek. In summer, the water will be warm enough to swim in the swimming hole under the bridge of Paper Mill Road. There is also a trail which will take you down to the Chattahoochee and a huge gravel running track, which Sope Creek feeds into. I love this park because there is lake with great fishing, awesome trails, a beautiful creek, places to swim, and awesome ruins with a lot of history behind them.
Sweetwater Creek Trail
On July 9th, 1864, General Sherman's troops burned the New Manchester Mill to the Ground. Now, the ruins still remain on the side of Sweetwater Creek, the creek which gives its name to the Sweetwater Brewery based in Atlanta. The park contains over nine miles of hiking trails, and the creek itself, due to the many rocks dotting it, can be walked on too. There is also a good amount of swimming holes within the creek, which are amazing after long hikes in the Atlanta heat. I just discovered this amazing State Park, and just couldn't believe it was 30 minutes West from Atlanta. This is a must see park if you live in Atlanta, or anywhere near it.
9 miles of trails.
This trail gets its name from the local legend that a piece of amour, supposedly from a member of Hernando de Soto's group of explorers, was found at the base of the lower falls. It is likely that this is a legitimate story, as a sword of Hernando's was found intact in Rome, Georgia, proving his presence in the area at some time. There are two trails, one to the upper falls, and one to the lower falls. The upper falls trail is 1/4th of a mile, but almost entirely uphill, while the lower falls trail is relatively flat and 3/4th of a mile in length. Both falls are beautiful and have viewing platforms. There are a lot of crayfish and salamanders in the water at the base the lower falls. I've had a lot of fun slipping and falling on my ass trying to catch one of those critters. There is also great car camping here, with many great secluded spots to set up a tent or hammock.
The Palisades at the Chatahoochee
The defining feature of this hike is the jumping rock. A 25 foot plunge into the Hooch. It's as scary as it is cold when you take your first jump. There is about a two mile walk from the palisades parking lot to the jumping rock itself, but I always just raft down from the Johnson's Ferry Road put-in. There is always a good amount of drunk people at the rock, which can lead to some very funny, and moderately dangerous, situations. The trail to the rock is very beautiful, following the Chatahoochee. Every time I'm there I see great wildlife like Great Blue Herons and Hawks, and I once saw an otter while 'Shooting the Hooch'. Whether you hike or float to the jumping rock, you will have tons of fun at this summer Atlanta hot spot.
Amicalola Falls Trail
Amicalola Falls are a must-hike for a few reasons. First, the falls are simply stunning and huge, some of the nicest I've seen. Second, the trails are beautiful, except that they sometimes follow a road. Third, this is where the Approach Trail to Springer Mountain, and therefore the Appalachian Trail, starts. This is a great hike for kids, because most of the hike is actually on concrete paths that the NPS has made for the hike up to the falls themselves. There is also a nice fishing pond stocked with bass. This is a great trip for taking people from out of town up to North Georgia and showing the the beautiful Appalachians.