9 quick hikes near Atlanta's breathtaking waterfalls

  • Rose Kennedy
  • For the AJC
1:14 p.m Thursday, April 13, 2017 Things to Do in Atlanta

The hustle and bustle of Atlanta isn't always what it seems.

Hidden in various nooks and crannies or a few miles beyond its perimeter are waterfalls.

Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area
Arabia Mountain Cascade Trail
.2 – 3.25 miles
3350 Klondike Road, Lithonia. 404-998-8384

Look no further! Just .2 miles into this hike you'll find cascades rushing over granite. Stop right there or continue the family-friendly 3.25-mile loop to a historic barn and farmhouse ruins.

Sope Creek Trail
1 mile
3760 Paper Mill Road SE, Marietta.
This easy 1 miler along Sope Creek is one of the splendors of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area near Marietta. It takes you past the ruins of a Civil War-era paper mill and a the gorgeous the waterfall spillway that once provided its power.

Johnson Ferry Trail
1.8 miles
Columns Drive, Marietta. 404-730-7911

One of the trails less traveled in the Chattahoochee River NRA, this 1.8-mile loop nonetheless boasts a small series of cascading waterfalls, a marshy wetland and a very large rock outcrop.

Cascade Springs Nature Preserve
1.9 miles
2852 Cascade Road SW, Atlanta 404-546-6744

Several alluring small streams set the mood, followed by a boulder-laden valley. At 1.3 miles, the waterfall appears. It's beneath a busy bridge, with a large rock terracing its three cascades.

1463 Clifton Road NE
2-4 miles
Lucky Emory folks! This collection of lush forest trails is for the use of Emory students and faculty. The Lullwater Trail crosses a span bridge to reach a dramatic spillway waterfall. It's a great place to walk a (leashed) dog or just get away from it all.

2.3 miles
1750 Mount Vernon Road, Lithia Springs. 770-732-5871
Just outside Atlanta to the West, Sweetwater Creek State Park has a variety of trails. This one gets you to historic Civil War mill ruins, rushing rapids and small waterfalls with 2.3 miles of hiking. Extra fun at the .75 mile mark: the trail crosses a small bridge before climbing a large wooden staircase to an overlook.

Yellow River Park Trail
3.2 miles
3232 Juhan Road, Stone Mountain. 678.277.0900

Take a couple of hours anytime from sunrise to sunset to hike this scenic river. It's a surprising addition to a suburban neighborhood near Stone Mountain. The almost flat trail winds through sandy river banks and showcases a stairway of shallow waterfalls. Trail running is another fun way to see the sights.

Sweetwater Creek White Trail
4.1 miles
1750 Mount Vernon Road, Lithia Springs. 770-732-5871

This is the longest trail at Sweetwater Creek Park, which spans more than 2,500 acres of creekside landscape. It features a serene pond, open meadows plenty of falls.

4.8 miles
6875 Cochran Mill Road, Palmetto

The Red Trail at Cochran Mill Park, southwest of Atlanta near Chattahoochee Hills, crosses several streams en route to a beautiful cascading waterfall at a former mill site. The Henry Mill Falls Trail makes several creek crossings and ends at a remote waterfall. And it's all just 20 miles southwest of the Atlanta airport.

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