I am, and forever will be, an island girl. When I think of the ideal place to be, I picture the wind combing through my hair, the salty smell of the ocean, and the sound of waves crashing against the shore.
Even so, I openly confess to being charmed by the evergreen woodlands of Georgia. There is no state I know half so well, no other state whose trails I’ve hiked from north to south, no other state where when people ask me for hiking recommendations, I needn’t hesitate.
So this year, though I took a few trips out-of-state, I nonetheless took the time to explore our local trails. Here are my top five Georgia hiking trails of 2017.
5. Constitution Lakes
Located inside the Atlanta perimeter, Constitution Lakes feels very much a part of the suburbs, south of the city. Once inside, one is immediately immersed into the woods. This is not one of those parks where you can expect to hear highway traffic a few feet away.
I first visited in Constitution Lakes in the summer of 2016. Though I generally have a rule against revisiting trails, I nonetheless returned in the fall of this year. The trail wore fall well, though the cloudy sky completely ruins the digital rendition of what I saw.
My favourite feature about Constitution Lakes is the boardwalks weaving its way through the swamp. It’s wide enough for two to pass, with no rails. I wonder how many people have fallen into that swamp…
4. Mason Mill
Also located inside the Atlanta perimeter, Mason Mill is a pocket of forestry in the heart of Decatur. The trail features woodlands, rivers, and hillsides leading up to train tracks. Some of the trails are paved, some are steps, and much of it is dirt trails.
What I loved most about Mason Mill is the small beaches following the river, and the steps leading down to them. Waterscapes is the way to my heart on a trail.
3. Red Top Mountain
Red Top Mountain is located roughly 40 miles from the city of Atlanta, and is well-worth the drive if you’re eager for a summertime swim. Needless to say, my favourite thing about this trail is the obvious opportunity for water sports.
If swimming isn’t enough to keep you occupied, then this is also a great place for paddle-boarding, kayaking, and yachting. The bottom of the river is muddy silt, and the water is not clear, but if you can get past this, you’ll be fine.
2. Deepdene Park
So, until I started working on this list, I mistakenly believed this park was called Depende Park. That was the name a local had referred to it by, and I never questioned it. It took me about an hour to go through social media and this blog to correct the name!
That said, this is my favourite city trail. The park is in a lovely neighbourhood by a busy main road, and gets lots of foot traffic; making it a perfect hiking spot for first-time solo-hikers. This was the second park I ever hiked by myself.
What I loved about this trail were the steps leading into and out of streams throughout the parks. It was a lovely and unexpected surprise that I never tired of.
1. Amicalola Falls
Amicalola Falls had been sitting on my hiking wishlist alongside Tallulah Gorge, since 2016. In the summer of 2017, I finally had the opportunity to visit when one of my friends invited me to tag along.
The climb was more difficult than I had first anticipated, but it was well worth the sweat, blood, and tears. The falls was absolutely stunning, and at 729 feet is the most majestic waterfall I have ever seen.
While I don’t find it more beautiful than Cloudland Canyon, it is nonetheless the best thing I laid eyes on in Georgia in 2017.
Have you ever been hiking in Georgia, especially around the Atlanta area? What were some of the trails you visited? Which one was your favourite?