There’s no better way to spend quality time with the kids than enjoying the great outdoors. For being a metropolis, the Atlanta area has some incredible hiking trails and nature walks that are perfect for children of all ages. Here’s a roundup of ten, terrific spots for scenic strolls that the littles are sure to love.
Island Ford Trail
Located within the Island Ford Park, Island Ford Trail is a local favourite for all ages. The entire walk is a two-mile loop for a manageable hike and easy enough to turn around and go back to the visitor’s center at the start of the trail. Oversized boulders make this nature spot popular with children looking to climb against a backdrop of the Chattahoochee River. If the boulders and river don’t hold their interest, keep walking until you hit the waterfall and wait for their delight.
Details: 1978 Island Ford Parkway, Sandy Springs
Sweetwater Creek State Park, Red Trail
Easily accessible for Metro Atlanta, Sweetwater Creek features three hiking trails with the Red Trail the easiest for kids to manage. Hike along the white-water rapids of Sweetwater Creek and reference a historical guide available for quick facts and info along the way. Head-out on the Red Trail for a mile walk in one direction with a halfway stop at Mill Ruins and let the kids explore. Unless parents want to wrangle young kids over rocky terrain, turn back at this point or take more adventurous kids to the end of the path.
Details: 1750 Mt. Vernon Road, Lithia Springs, 770-732-5871
Cascade Springs Nature Preserve
Plan a morning hiking past an enchanting waterfall and Civil War ruins. Make a history lesson out of the stone structure built by troops while stopping to climb boulders. English ivy and moss covers much of the terrain and ruins, giving it a “we just left the city and stepped back in time,” feel. Put babies and toddlers on your back in an Ergo or favorite baby carriers as strollers aren’t recommended on this hike.
Details: 2851 Cascade Road SW, Atlanta, 404-546-6788
Dunwoody Nature Center
A1.5 mile woodland trail loop makes hiking easy enough for young children, with Nature Center activities and attractions interesting enough to keep older kids busy. Stop by the treehouse for a bird’s eye view of the center, take a detour along the boardwalk, or wander through one of several gardens dotting the property. Ask the Nature Center about a geo-caching app for kids for a real-life treasure hunt and search for the three geocaches located on the grounds.
Details: 5343 Roberts Drive, Dunwoody, 770-394-3322
Morgan Falls Overlook Park
Take a one-mile hike at Morgan Falls Overlook Park for spectacular views. The short, even walk makes this a good choice for toddling kids on the go. Carve out a few hours before naptime and stop at the playground, have a picnic and relax on large porch swings. There are also convenient restrooms for a quick diaper change or potty training dash. The trail boasts some gorgeous scenic views, but is short enough to feel like a simple walk. If your child can nap on the go, bring along their stroller or carrier. This park has a no music policy to keep that peaceful family vibe going all morning long.
Details: 200 Morgan Falls Road, Sandy Springs, 770-730-5600
John Ripley Forbes’ Big Trees Forest Preserve
Head to Big Trees Forest Preserve for a 30-acre tree, plant and wildlife sanctuary. The formerly endangered forest is now home to some spectacular tree and plant specimens sure to wow children by their sheer size. A variety of trails makes this a fun nature walk for families who aren’t sure what they want until they get there, or hope to divide and conquer trails by splitting off parents and kids. Dogs on leashes are welcome to join in the hike.
Details: 7645 Roswell Rd, Sandy Springs, 770-673-0111
Roswell Trail System and River Walk
Visit the Roswell Trail System and River Walk for 16 miles of trails running throughout the area. Get a map from the Nature Center and choose one of the parks as a starting point, and then keep hiking to the next location for a more adventurous afternoon outdoors. Take in stunning views of the Chattahoochee River and the Old Mill ruins before heading back to your starting point for a picnic and some fun at one of the parks’ many playgrounds. Maps and trail information available at the Roswell Visitor’s Center.
Details: (Nature Center) 9135 Willeo Road, Roswell, 770-640-3253
Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve
The Clyde Shepherd Nature covers 28 acres of land dedicated to protecting nature and wildlife. The easily accessible hiking trail loop spans about 1.5 miles long for a trek through several different ecosystems. Keep kids with short attention spans entertained by ever-changing environments from hardwood forest to wetlands and more with plenty of wildlife spotting along the way.
Details: 2580 Pine Bluff Drive, Decatur, 678-951-0105
Atlanta Beltline Trails, Eastside Trail
The Atlanta Beltline is expansive with lots of options, but families should head to the Eastside Trail. The first completed trail on the beltline, Eastside Trail offers access to some of the city’s most popular destinations like Piedmont Park and Old Fourth Ward Park. Walk the whole 2.25 mile trail, or exit along one of the many access points along the way. Stroller and bike friendly, this is a great pick for kids of all ages and abilities.
Details: Piedmont Park, 10th Street and Monroe Drive, Atlanta, 404-477-3003
Located about an hour’s drive from Atlanta, this animal sanctuary offers paths and plenty of opportunity to learn about endangered or orphaned animals. With a mission to bring animals and children together, kids can learn more about the grounds’ 1,5000 animals while getting some exercise. If the kids are up for it, take the walking tour covering 3.5 miles of terrain with a behind-the-scenes sanctuary look. Otherwise, let your kids take the lead and follow them to the animals that capture their interest.
Details: 712 LG Griffin Road, Locust Grove, 770-957-0888
Where do you like to stroll with the kiddies? Share your spot with us in the comments section below!
Photos courtesy of Jonf728 and www78 on Creative Commons via Flickr, Noah’s Ark via Facebook, Sweetwater Creek State Park, Cascade Springs Nature Preserve, Dunwoody Nature Center, Morgan Falls Overlook State Park, John Ripley Forbes’ Big Trees, Roswell Trail System, Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve and Atlanta Beltline