5 easy hikes to Atlanta's hidden waterfalls

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5 easy hikes to Atlanta's hidden waterfalls

There's just something simply beautiful, and beautifully simple, about a waterfall.

Waterfalls are some of Georgia's most beloved hiking destinations. Stunning cascades, like Amicalola Falls, stream down from towering mountaintops in North Georgia, drawing hikers by the masses. It's amazing that water simply falling from rock can create so much beauty.

But Atlanta's rolling hills and tumbling creeks hold some hidden waterfalls, too. They might not be as large as their North Georgia counterparts, but they're fully deserving of a hike (and, since they're local, you'll save some gas). Hike these trails in metro Atlanta to splashing waterfalls this winter. They're all beginner friendly, family friendly and dog friendly — and all worthy of a picnic by the falls.

Contributed by Atlanta Trails

Sweetwater Creek Hike the red trail at Sweetwater Creek State Park to a waterfall-filled valley where a wide flowing creek cascades in a series of whitewater-filled falls. The trail's scenic beauty will leave you feeling like you're in a remote stretch of North Georgia, not minutes from Atlanta. Sweetwater Creek's turbulent tumbles and historic mill ruins might look familiar: the ruins and creek were a filming location for "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1".

Little Bear Creek tumbles over Cochran Mill Falls before rushing downstream over another smaller waterfall, Henry Mill Falls. Contributed by Eric Champlin

Cochran Mill Explore a tumbling waterfall at this former mill site south of the city at Cochran Mill Park. You'll hike a short trek to catch views of Little Bear Creek as it spills over a rocky cliff into a serene pool of water. Large boulders on the creek's banks are especially picnic worthy, so don't forget a snack.

Rottenwood Creek Urban Atlanta meets nature on this Chattahoochee River tributary near Vinings, where Rottenwood Creek tumbles in a small waterfall under the towering concrete overpass of I-285. Hike, run or bike the paved Bob Callan Trail to the waterfall and then explore the scenic, wildlife-filled banks of the Chattahoochee River at Paces Mill.

Contributed by Atlanta Trails

Cascade Springs Nature Preserve Explore 120 acres of green space tucked into southwest Atlanta, the site of a historic spring and a tumbling waterfall framed in trailing ivy. It's a short hike to the park's waterfall, but don't stop there; the rest of the preserve is worthy of a hike. Two miles of trail explore rolling forest, visit the site of a Civil War battle and trek to large rock outcrops.

Vickery Creek Falls rushes over a historic dam into a serene pool of water in the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area. Contributed by Eric Champlin

Vickery Creek at Roswell Mill Granted, the spillway waterfall at Roswell Mill isn't natural — but that doesn't diminish its beauty. Hike the Vickery Creek Trail through gently rolling forest to this historic, stacked stone dam, catching the best waterfall views from a steep, rocky bluff beside the falls. Then cross a wooden covered bridge to explore historic Roswell Mill on the opposite bank, where you'll catch a second view of the waterfall alongside ruins of the old mill.

Bonus hike: Sope Creek Have you noticed? Many of Atlanta's waterfalls are the sites of historic mills: falling water played a large part in Atlanta's manufacturing history, turning wheels to power textile and paper making machinery. Visit another historic mill waterfall at the paper mill ruins on the banks of Sope Creek. The small waterfall cascades over a stone spillway beside the stone ruins, flowing into the boulder filled bed of Sope Creek.

Eric Champlin is an outdoor enthusiast, and the editor ofAtlantaTrails.com and AshevilleTrails.com, online magazines that highlight the South's best outdoor adventures.

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