The 10 Best Hikes In Atlanta

Published by: Bounce7 March, 2022

Lace up your hiking boots, fill your water bottle and plan your next hiking trip to one of the best hikes in Atlanta. The city is filled with historic places, monuments, lush parks, and well-manicured walking trails. And to boot, there are also some more challenging hikes that are excellent for the experienced hiker. Whether you are just out for a stroll or searching for a long, strenuous hike, Atlanta has what you are looking for!

With so many local and state parks close to the city it is easy to find hiking trails for every skill level. Plan a short day trip to a state park or pack your bags and spend a few nights conquering some of the more difficult trails. Do your research and be sure to include spots like the Indian Seats Trail (great for photo ops) and areas such as Island Ford Park and Roosevelt State Park.

Are you looking for a loop hike, a moderate trail, or a trek with steep inclines? Do you want to walk past Civil War ruins or see the city skyline? No matter your interest, we've got the info on state parks, diverse terrain, and park features for hikes near Atlanta. Keep reading to find the best hikes in Atlanta for nature lovers and those just looking for a quiet stroll.

Hikers tip: Leave your extra bags and gear you may not need in an Atlanta luggage storage for safekeeping. Then hit the trail for a spectacular day! 

Our Top Hiking Trail Picks in Atlanta

Atlanta is filled with breathtaking green spaces that are filled with easy walking trails, more difficult hiking trails, and even challenging trails just outside the city for those looking for a more strenuous jaunt. Check out these top hiking trails and pick one that fits your skill level for a day out in the fresh air and sunshine.

Atlanta Beltline

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Length: 22 miles

Location: Downtown Atlanta

One of the most innovative green spaces in Atlanta, this is the perfect place to get outdoors for a walk or even a bike ride with 22 miles of trails that loop around the core of the city. The Beltline covers reclaimed railroad track that has been repurposed into trails that connect several neighborhoods.

Take a daily stroll along part of the Beltline or plan to spend several days exploring all 22 miles. Meet up with friends, grab the kids, or just take a solitary walk for a bit of peace and quiet while surrounded by nature within the bustling metropolis. Check out Art on the Beltline which is the biggest temporary public art exhibit in the Southeast.

East Palisades Trail and Bamboo Forest

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 4.2-mile loop

Location: Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

Located 11 miles north of Atlanta in Vinings, Georgia, the East Palisades Trail is a very popular hiking trail that runs along the Chattahoochee River for spectacular river views along most of the trail. Remember, you are sharing the path with others so be aware of other hikers and joggers with the occasional biker. Stop at the wooden observation deck overlooking the river and Sandy Springs.

The trail is accessible throughout the entire year and is great for those wanting to spend time in nature. Stroll along and take in the Bamboo Forest, and keep an eye out for local flora and fauna. Your four-legged companions are welcome but must remain on a leash. This peaceful hike is one of the most amazing hidden gems in the Atlanta area.

Freedom Park Stone Mountain Trail

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 7.3 miles (round trip)

Location: Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site

Located in downtown Atlanta, this paved trail starts at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site and leads you by the birth home of Martin Luther King, Jr., his tomb, and Ebenezer Baptist Church where this famous man was baptized. You will also meander along past several historic memorials and the National Park Service visitor center.

The path also leads you by several parks and green spaces including Freedom Park with its magnificent art sculptures. One of the best parts of this easy hike is there are plenty of places to stop and rest if you need a break and you can grab a bite to eat or a refreshing drink at one of the restaurants or street food vendors along the way.

Island Ford North Loop Trail

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 2.8-mile loop

Location: Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

Like the East Palisades Trail, the Island Ford Trail is located in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area but it is in Dunwoody, Georgia which is about 23 miles north of Atlanta. Dogs are welcome on the path but must remain leashed. The well-maintained trail leads you through shaded forested areas, up gentle inclines, and along the fast-moving Chattahoochee River.

This is a great place for families to come and spend a day outside the city exploring nature. The trail is easy to navigate and does become crowded on the weekends but is usually pretty quiet during the week. Look out over the river and listen as geese and other waterfowl call to each other.

Vaughters Out and Back Trail

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Length: 5.3 miles

Location: Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve

Head to Pine Mountain, Georgia and the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve just 19 miles to the east of Atlanta for an easy to moderate hike where you can spot rare plants and local flora. Bring your four-legged friend along for an afternoon exploring the different rock formations in the nature preserve. With the Arabia Mountain in the background, it is a picturesque hike.

If you want a little more challenging hike, head up the Mountain Top Trail to reach the summit and look out over the forest, wetlands, lakes, and surrounding area. Come in the spring and keep a look out for the Diamorpha, a small red plant that has white and red blooms. This rare plant can be found in pools of water that have formed in the granite.

Kennesaw Mountain Loop Trail

Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult

Length: 9.8-mile loop

Location: Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Park

Located just 25 miles to the northwest of Atlanta in Marietta, Georgia, the Kennesaw Mountain Loop Trail is in Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Park and is best known for its mountain-top views and marvelous historic sites. This loop offers a wide array of terrain and trails that are a mix of moderate to strenuous. The Kennesaw Mountain Loop is a great place for a day hike so pack a bag and spend the day exploring.

Climb to the summit of Little Kennesaw, Pigeon Hill, and then take on Kennesaw Mountain for breathtaking views of the surrounding area. You do not have to hike the full 9.8-mile loop, you can take it in sections or pick and choose which areas you want to check out. For those not up to the more difficult areas, you can hop on and off the loop where you need to.

Stone Mountain Walk Up and Cherokee Trail Loop

Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult

Length: 6.3-mile loop

Location: Stone Mountain Park

Spend a day in Stone Mountain Park only about 20 miles to the east of Atlanta where you can hike up Stone Mountain for stunning summit views. Dogs are allowed on the trails as long as they are leashed but they cannot go on Walk Up Trail that leads directly to the summit. You will be led around the base of Stone Mountain and then up to the summit for a moderate to difficult hike.

If you are not ready for the challenge of hiking Walk Up Trail, you can simply stroll along the base and skip the climb to the top. On the flipside, if you are searching for a strenuous climb, you can skip Cherokee Trail which is the walk around the base, and head straight for Walk Up Trail. Drop by Stone Mountain Village for refreshments after your hike for the perfect end to your day.

Vickery Creek Trail

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Length: 4.1-mile loop

Location: Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area – Vickery Creek

Located in Roswell, Georgia, the Vickery Creek Trail is located 20 miles north of Atlanta and is a very popular hiking spot for those looking for an easy or moderately difficult trail close to downtown. It is easy to access Vickery Creek and there are several fantastic amenities such as bathrooms with flushable toilets and indoor sinks.

The path leads you through the woods and past the man-made waterfalls of the Big Creek Mill dam. Stroll across the covered bridge and look out over the Chattahoochee River. Pack a picnic and enjoy a leisurely day exploring the park then head into historic Roswell and check out the restaurants and shops in Downtown Atlanta.

Indian Seats Loop Trail

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 3.9-mile loop

Location: Sawnee Mountain Preserve

While the Indian Seats Loop is a bit further from Atlanta, about 46 miles north in Cumming, Georgia, it is definitely worth the extra time in the car for those seeking a more challenging trail with breathtaking views, especially during the fall months. You will wind your way around the Sawnee Mountain and then end your hike at Indian Seats Lookout Point.

Once you reach Lookout Point you will have lovely views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the surrounding area. Come during the fall when the bright red, yellow, and orange colors slash across the countryside. Check out the visitor center at the Sawnee Mountain Preserve and the interactive exhibits that are available for the public.

Sweetwater Creek Loop Trail

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 4.1-mile loop

Location: Sweetwater Creek State Park

Spend the day near Austell, Georgia, about 20 miles to the west of Atlanta at the Sweetwater Creek State Park for a riverside hike with picturesque views of Sweetwater Creek. Bring your dog for a leisurely hike but they do have to stay leashed while in the park. The loop trail includes the Red Trail and the White Trail.

White Trail takes you down about 100 feet to the river and then continues along the river. There are several large rocks you have to navigate around and the trail does get a bit tricky here. Pack a picnic and relax at one of the picnic spots along the Sweetwater Creek or head to one of the restaurants in nearby Austell after you have completed the four-mile loop.

Easy Hikes in Atlanta

Whether you are looking for an easy stroll through the woods or looking out over a gently rolling river or you are new to hiking in general, there are several easy hikes in Atlanta to choose from. Trying to figure out which one or ones to tackle first can be a bit daunting but there are three very popular easy hikes that you may want to start with.

  • Vaughters Out and Back Trail

  • Island Ford North Loop Trail

  • Freedom Park Stone Mountain Trail

Intermediate Hikes in Atlanta

There are plenty of amazing hikes that are in and near Atlanta that will test your skills without wearing you out. Whether you are planning to hike to the summit of a mountain or conquer a long loop trail with tricky terrain, you will find just the right intermediate hike for you. The three listed here are great and popular choices for the intermediate hiker.

  • Sweetwater Creek Loop Trail

  • Indian Seats Loop Trail

  • East Palisades Trail and Bamboo Forest

Difficult Hikes in Atlanta

Check your backpack, fill your water bottle, and lace up your hiking boots before you tackle one of the more difficult hikes in Atlanta. There are plenty of strenuous hiking trails for you to try when you feel your skill level is up to par. Make sure you are physically able to conquer these trails before you attempt any of them.

  • Stone Mountain Walk Up and Cherokee Trail Loop

  • Kennesaw Mountain Loop Trail

  • Len Foote Loop Trail

Hikes and the Blue Ridge Mountains too

There are so many fantastic nature trails for you to tackle as well as well maintained paved trails making outdoor adventures a breeze. So get out and learn a bit of Civil War history while you stroll along some of these trails. History buffs will love vising the parks and checking out the monuments scattered throughout. From rocky terrain to rolling hills, there are trails for the novice hiker to more experienced hikers.

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