The weather is perfect for hiking in North Georgia this time of year and there are so many trails that are within driving distance of where we live in Atlanta. As an outdoor lover, I have taken my family to a lot of them over the past year. Hiking is really therapeutic to me. It was also one of the few things that we could do safely when we were on lockdown last year. We discovered some beautiful trails that you may not know are within driving distance if you live in the Atlanta area. In my opinion, these are ten of the best kid friendly hiking trails in North Georgia.
1. Vickery Creek
If you live in the Atlanta area, the Vickery Creek Trail at Roswell Mill is right in your backyard. It’s not only a great place to catch the sunset, but you can also see this amazing waterfall from multiple viewing spots.
Did you know that the reason waterfalls are so relaxing is that the splashing of the water creates negative ions that balance out all of the toxins we take in? Once the negative ions we inhale at waterfalls reach our bloodstream, they release serotonin- the feel good chemical that reduces stress and depression.
There are a few different places to start this hike, but the one I prefer is behind the Old Roswell Mill near the Roswell Square. If you park at this location you can walk to the old historic mill and learn about it’s role in Southern history. You can also catch a bite to eat after your hike at one of the nearby restaurants such as Souper Jenny or Moxie Burger.
The total distance of this trail system is 5 miles, but it’s easily broken down into shorter hikes depending on how much time you have.
This trail doesn’t go all the way around like it looks on the map. So make sure to factor in your walk back to wherever you started when you’re planning your hike.
2. Sawnee Mountain Indian Seats Trail
We hiked Indian Seats right after a thunderstorm had knocked down trees blocking the road to get to the shorter trail. I was pleasantly surprised that my six and nine year old both made it the whole four miles without much complaining. There’s a beautiful view at the top of the natural rock formation that makes it worth the steep hike.
The entire Sawnee Mountain Park is 821 acres with 11 miles of trails. There are many different routes you can take and the park rangers at the visitor center are super helpful with tips about which one will be best for your family.
The shorter hike which starts at the parking lot on Bettis Tribble Gap Road is ideal for families with younger children. You can even see a treehouse and fairy houses on this trail.
If you do the longer trail that starts on Spot Road, there are picnic tables about halfway up where you can stop for a snack or water break.
3. Amicalola Falls
Amicalola Falls is part of the Georgia State park system. It’s located between Ellijay and Dahlonega. There are several cabins, campsites, and even a lodge if you want to stay over night.
This is one of the prettiest waterfalls I’ve seen! It’s 729 feet high and the hike is 604 steps up to the top. So if you have really small children, you may want to drive up to the top where you can still get a great view of the falls without the strenuous hike. My boys are 6 and 9 and they hiked it without any problem.
I recommend parking at the bottom and walking up the stairs, stopping for a snack at the top, and then walking down the Westridge Falls Trail and Spring Trail. This way you can see something different from when you hiked up and it’s less scary to me than walking straight down all the stairs.
4. Eagles Rest
Eagle’s Rest is a little known secret on the top of Mt Oglethorpe just outside of Jasper, Georgia. It has some really breathtaking views, an observation deck, and a carved wooden eagle statue that took me by surprise.
The Eagle’s Rest Trail is a short .5 mile hike where you might even see some fairy houses if you look hard enough.
5. Falls Branch Falls
Falls Branch Falls is another hidden gem just outside Blue Ridge, Georgia. This is a short hike to a waterfall and it’s perfect if you have younger kids who can’t walk too far.
If you’re looking for something else to do after your hike, there’s plenty to do in the area. Blue Ridge has tons of other hiking trails including the Toccoa River Bridge. After our hike, we went gem mining at Lilly Pad Village which also has fishing, mini-golf, and hot cocoa in the winter.
6. Chattahoochee River Environmental Education Center
I recently found this trail that runs along the Chattahoochee River and it’s right down the street from my house. If you’re looking for a good kid friendly hike in North Fulton County, I highly recommend checking this one out.
There are several different routes you can take to make this hike as short or as long as you want. You can also make it more difficult by choosing one of the steeper sections. And if you want your kids to have space to run around freely, there are several clearings where they can do just that!
If you park at the Environmental Education Center, there is no restroom so make sure to go before you leave the house. But if you hike a few miles in there is another parking lot with a public restroom. You could park here if needed, but this section is often more crowded. Also there is a $3 parking fee to park in the lot with a bathroom, which you can pay using your phone.
7. Autrey Mill
We spent many summer days here last summer during the pandemic. It’s a great place to meet up with friends and hike a short walk down to the river. Then you can let your kids play in the water and cool off while you relax.
Autrey Mill also has a small indoor exhibit with a few animals including Pebbles the African Spurred Tortoise, fish, snakes, and frogs. And there are rabbits, goats, ducks, and chicken that you can feed outside.
Make sure to check out the teepee and the monkey statues that are on the Forest Trail.
8. Brasstown Bald
Brasstown Bald is about 2 hours North of Atlanta just outside Blairsville, Georgia. Let me warn you now, the road is mostly curvy. If you get car sick easily, this may not be the best hike for you. But if you can stick it out, the view at the top of this short but steep trail is well worth the drive! There are several longer trails surrounding the .6 mile paved foot trail to the observation deck, but so far we haven’t tried them.
There is a really neat museum at the top with more friendly park rangers who can tell you all about the surrounding trails and waterfalls nearby. One told us that if you can make this hike in October, you can even see the skyline of Atlanta from the top.
There’s a shuttle service that will take you to the top if you and your little ones choose not to walk up the steep trail. It only runs 10-4:30 with a break from 12:30-1:10. Also, the park is closed seasonally during the winter months. You can still hike the trails and pay with cash using the honor system, but the bathrooms and trail are not maintained during that time.
9. Stone Mountain
If you live in Georgia, you’re probably aware of Stone Mountain. It’s kind of hard to miss actually if you live anywhere east of 285. But for those who have never made the trek to this giant quartz monzonite landmark, I highly recommend checking it out. There is enough to do at the park to make it a full day trip, including restaurants and a laser show at night. Certain times of year there are super fun family friendly festivals such as The Yellow Daisy Festival.
Fun Facts: Stone Mountain is 1,683 feet tall with a base circumference of 3.8 miles. It was created by a pocket of magma trapped underground 300 million years ago and came to the surface15 million years ago through uplift and erosion. In the1800s, it was excavated for granite used in cities across the country.
There is 5 mile trail around the mountain that you can run, walk, bike, or drive. The hike up the mountain is only 1 mile long, but some parts are very steep. There’s also a cable car that will take you to the top if you’d rather skip the hike.
10. Arabia Mountain
Arabia Mountain is in Lithonia, Georgia just east of Atlanta. There are over 30 miles of trails here, but I recommend parking at the Atlanta Wildlife Animal Rescue Effort (AWARE) at 4158 Klondike Road. The trail from this spot will take you to a short hike over a monadnock rock formation formed by erosion with giant flower filled craters. It kind of has an illusion of walking on the moon.
We hiked this trail with some friends and brought a picnic lunch. The kids had a blast making wooden forts and running around together. We even saw some tadpoles in a pool of water.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of ten of the best kid friendly hiking trails in North Georgia. Do you have any more to add to the list?
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