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10 beautiful fall hikes near Atlanta

You don’t have to venture far to enjoy one of these 10 hikes near Atlanta. There is something magical about the leaves changing to vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red, the air becoming crisper, and the sky becoming bluer.

Positioned at the base of the Appalachian Mountains, North Georgia offers numerous outdoor hikes close to the Atlanta metropolitan area. Before the hustle and bustle of the holidays, pencil in a day to enjoy the fall foliage. Not only will you have a chance to see the best the season has to offer, you will also get a great workout in the process.

“Hiking benefits both your physical and mental health,” says Michael Bednarz, DPM, FACFAS, a podiatric surgeon at Piedmont. “Don’t let lack of planning contribute to a bad hiking experience. Be sure to load up on water and trail food, and get fitted for proper hiking boots. Good footwear and proper ankle support are especially important when trail hiking on uneven surfaces.” Check out more hiking safety tips.

When planning your trip, keep in mind that late October and early November is usually peak foliage season in Georgia.

10 trails close to Atlanta

1. Stone Mountain

Just outside of Atlanta, Stone Mountain Park offers a 360-degree view from the summit. The hike to the top is just one mile, with a 786-foot elevation change – and the view is well worth the cardio exercise. For those wanting an easier climb, there is a sky ride to the top of the mountain. There are also wooded trails that span a 15-mile area within this 3,200-acre protected park.

2. Kennesaw Mountain

For a panoramic view of Buckhead, midtown and downtown Atlanta, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park is the hike for you. This terrain is a high-running ridge situated between Marietta and Kennesaw with two summits: Big Kennesaw and Little Kennesaw Mountain. Hike two miles to the top for a 1,808-foot elevation view or stay low among the canopy and hike the level trails that span 18 miles across this preserved national battlefield that still holds relics from the Civil War era.

3. Chattahoochee River

Another popular spot close to the Atlanta metro is the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in Roswell. The Gold Branch Trail is a 3.5-mile loop perfect for runners, walkers and hikers to take in all the smells, colors and sights of fall. The river’s banks are also a great place to spot wildlife in their natural habitat. Heron, geese, ducks and turtles call this park home.

4. Red Top Mountain

Hike the meandering shores of Lake Allatoona at Red Top Mountain State Park just north of Atlanta. This 3.8-mile hike captures the brilliant reflections of the changing fall leaves on the water’s surface.

5. Tallulah Gorge

Breathtaking canyon views and beautiful waterfalls make Tallulah Gorge State Park a fall weather destination. The 2-mile-long canyon plummets 1,000 feet to the floor and includes six spectacular waterfalls. Hike a trail around the canyon's rim to one of several overlooks or obtain a permit to hike to the bottom of the canyon. Venture out over the suspension bridge for a full 360-degree view of this natural wonder.  

6. Cloudland Canyon

The 4.9-mile loop at Cloudland Canyon State Park provides numerous opportunities for wide foliage views along its 1,200-foot canyon rim. Hike to the canyon floor and up to the canyon’s western rim to take in the beautiful colors that transform the Appalachian Mountains. The park has 64 miles of trails in total with routes for most skill levels.

7. Appalachian Trail

The top of Springer Mountain, the southern starting point for the Appalachian Trail, provides great snapshots of the colorful rolling foothills of the Appalachians. The hike begins at Three Forks on the Appalachian Trail and gently climbs to a higher elevation with numerous views of the valley below.

8. Amicalola Falls: Georgia’s Tallest Waterfall

Spectacular scenery and hiking trails at Amicalola Falls State Park make this one of Georgia’s most popular state parks. At 729 feet, Amicalola Falls is the tallest cascading waterfall in the Southeast. Capture breathtaking mountain views as you hike one mile to the top.

9. F.D. Roosevelt State Park

You may be surprised to find rolling mountains 80 miles south of Atlanta, but this 9,049-acre park is Georgia’s largest state park and a hiker’s dream. More than 40 miles of trails, including the popular 23-mile Pine Mountain Trail, wind through colorful trees and small waterfalls. It also offers a bit of history: Above King’s Gap is Dowdell’s Knob, where a life-size sculpture of President Franklin D. Roosevelt sits in memory of his frequent picnics here where he was thought to ponder world affairs.

10. Indian Springs

Indian Springs State Park is one of the oldest state parks in the U.S. Located in middle Georgia, the park is home to a 3.25-mile multi-purpose trail can be used for hiking and biking. While the terrain does not offer many steep inclines, it captures the beauty of all the falls colors in this protected park.

For more ways to get active this season, visit Living Better’s fitness page.

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