Atlanta is known as the city in the trees for good reason, so it’s no surprise that there are miles and miles of pristine nature preserves and more rugged hikes nearby. Hiking with kids near Atlanta is easy when we’ve got waterfalls, nature preserves, and state parks at our doorstep. Keep reading for a dozen of our favorite hikes for all ages, below.
Big Trees Forest Preserve, Sandy Springs
This urban forest includes three hiking routes—one of which is a mere one-mile loop that meanders beneath white oak trees—and is open sunrise to sunset, seven days each week. There is ample free parking. Dogs on leashes are welcomed in the Forest.
7645 Roswell Rd NE
Cascade Springs Nature Preserve, Southwest Atlanta
This 135-acre preserve in southwest Atlanta starts from a gritty parking area but takes hikers on extensive trails to Utoy Creek (site of a Civil War battle) and a waterfall (Cascade Falls) inside the park’s 120 acres of green space.
2852 Cascade Rd.
Island Ford Trail, Sandy Springs
Find it in the Island Ford Park, nestled among oversized boulders on the banks of the Chattahoochee. The walk is a two-mile loop that takes you past a waterfall, and is manageable for all ages.
1978 Island Ford Pkwy.
Dunwoody Nature Center
This well-maintained 1.5 mile woodland loop gains a bit of altitude and is unpaved, but we've successfully traversed it with a rugged stroller. There are plenty of well-planned activities—ask at the Nature Center about the geo-caching app and treasure hunt—to keep the big ones interested, while also being easy to navigate for shorter legs.
5343 Roberts Dr.
Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve, Decatur
This 28-acre nature preserve opened in 1995 in an effort to preserve natural spaces in the South Peachtree Creek watershed. The 1.5 mile hiking trail loop is easily accessible and traverses several ecosystems, which keeps things interesting for younger hikers. Keep an eye out for wildlife, particularly near the wetlands and ponds.
2580 Pine Bluff Dr.
Arabia Mountain Mountain Top Trail, Stonecrest
Over 30 miles of trails make up the Arabia Mountain PATH, located just 20 minutes east of downtown Atlanta. We recommend you take a hike to the ridge of Arabia mountain, an otherworldly rock outcrop that's a monadnock, a geologic formation that has the seen the ground around it erode away around it. Arabia Mountain also contains a variety of rare and endangered plants, such as Diamorpha, which grows in the fragile solution pit ecosystems that appear on the rock face.
3350 Klondike Rd.
Minnehaha Falls, Lakemont
If you need to see the skyscrapers in your rear view mirror for an afternoon, take the short drive (around 1.5 hours) to Lake Rabun and hike the Minnehaha Falls Trail. Short, easy, and kid-friendly, this hike culminates at a cascading waterfall. While you're in the area, stop at Tallulah Gorge State Park, and check out the suspension bridge if you're up for another hike.
Take unpaved Bear Gap Road and look for a green diamond trail marker, labeled 147
Sawnee Mountain Indian Seats, Cumming
The Indian Seats Trail hike is roughly 4 miles that climbs over and around the sheer face of Sawnee Mountain, where you'll see breathtaking views of the distant Blue Ridge Mountains. The trail is part of a larger network of hiking, walking and running trails at the Sawnee Mountain Preserve, a 900-acre stretch of forest.
4075 Spot Rd.
Providence Canyon State Park, Lumpkin
Known as Georgia's "Little Grand Canyon," this man-made formation was caused by water erosion in the 1800s. Now you'll find canyons as deep as 150 feet, and red, pink, orange, and purple formations that will make you feel far away from Georgia.
8930 Canyon Rd.
Cloudland Canyon, Rising Fawn
Located on the western edge of Lookout Mountain, Cloudland Canyon is one of the largest and most scenic parks in the state. With multiple trails that take you deep into the park, you'll find thousand-foot deep canyons, sandstone cliffs, wild caves, waterfalls, cascading creeks, dense woodland and abundant wildlife. The most popular hiking paths include the short Overlook Trail, strenuous Waterfalls Trail and moderate West Rim Loop Trail.
122 Cloudland Canyon Park Rd.
Brasstown Bald, Hiawassee
Home to Georgia's highest point, the hike to Brasstown Bald isn't as daunting as it may seem. You'll find a half-mile paved trail—keep in mind it's steep—through the forest that leads to a 360-degree observation deck, where you can see North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee on a clear day. Plan to hit the observation deck early, then explore the area's other trails, to avoid crowds that peak during the afternoon.
Intersection of Highway 180 and Spur 180
Long Creek Falls, Ellijay
Follow the blue-blazed trail to reach this double-tiered 50-foot waterfall at just under 1 mile from your trailhead. While the deep, clear pool at the base of the waterfall is perfect for summer dips, this trail is equally beautiful in the winter, when the rhododendron and hemlocks keep the mountainside speckled with green. Plus, this trail is only 4 miles from the southern start of the Appalachian Trail, so you'll be able to compare notes with through-hikers about your next advenutre.
GPS Coordinates 34.663850, -84.183967 // N34 39.831 W84 11.038