Get hiking on these 3 favorite Atlanta trails

Writer and outdoorsman Marcus Woolf picks some of the metro area’s best trails
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Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

Photograph by John E. McDonald

In the recently released second edition of Afoot & Afield: Atlanta, writer and outdoorsman Marcus Woolf guides readers through 108 of the region’s trails, offering GPS coordinates and historical background on each one. We asked Woolf for three of his favorites in the metro area:

Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
Where 400 Riverside Road, Roswell
Highlights The 6.5-mile Vickery Creek trail network doesn’t actually follow the banks of the Chattahoochee River, though you’ll walk amid streams and mature hardwoods, and stumble upon a defunct Roswell cotton mill known for producing Confederate uniforms during the Civil War. Check out the spillway dam that once controlled the factory’s water, then continue to a knoll overlooking picturesque Vickery Creek, where you’ll find excellent vistas across the creek gorge.
Good to know Parking is $3. There are four access points for the Vickery Creek area: off of Oxbo Road, South Atlanta Street, Mill Street, and Riverside Road. For this hike, enter from Riverside Road.

Panola Mountain State Park
Where 2620 Georgia 155, Stockbridge
Highlights Stone Mountain may be the state’s largest granite outcrop, but Panola Mountain, part of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area and just 30 minutes south of downtown Atlanta, is much more pristine. Not to mention, the summit of this 100-acre rock offers an incredible view of the city. To get access, take the 3.5-mile guided hike led by a park ranger, who can also volunteer details about the rare plants and animals found here (call 770-389-7801 to make a reservation).
Good to know Parking at Panola Mountain is $5. As a National Natural Landmark, the conservation area does not allow pets.

Chattahoochee Bend State Park
Where Flat Rock Road, Newnan
Highlights This nearly 3,000-acre park, which opened in 2011, is located in such a sparsely populated area that it “feels like a remote corner of the world,” Woolf says. For a short hike, take Flat Rock Trail for less than a mile to the park’s highest point atop the Flat Rock granite outcrop. Or go deeper into the hardwood forest along three-mile Wild Turkey Trail, where hikers have spotted whitetail deer, armadillos, and—of course—wild turkeys.
Good to know Make sure you use the parking lot for Trailhead 1, which is on the right off of Flat Rock Road (inside the park, the name changes to Bobwhite Way). Parking is $5, and Chattahoochee Bend can accommodate tents, trailers, and RVs starting at $9 (call 800-864-7275 to reserve).

This article originally appeared in our January 2016 issue.

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