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9 picturesque hikes less than an hour from Atlanta

Whether you want to meander through colorful and vibrant forests, or you're looking for an invigorating ascent to the top of a mountain, Georgia boasts some of the country's most picturesque hikes, many of which are located nearly right out of your own back door. 

These nine hikes will give you more than just a good workout. In fact, you'll find that each of these trails has a little something special to offer hikers of every skill level. 

Sope Creek Trail winds through 1.5 miles of beautiful terrain. (From atlantatrails.com/For the AJC)

Sope Creek Trails

3760 Paper Mill Road SE, Marietta, www.atlantatrails.com

3 miles

Notable features: Historic paper mill ruins, gorgeous hardwoods, views of Sibley Pond

In the heart of Marietta, you'll get a chance to explore the Sope Creek Trail system, which is located next to the Chattahoochee River and offers a wide array of scenic views, lush foliage and unique features that make this hike truly special. Along the trail, hikers will see the castle-like remains of a historic Civil War-era paper mill, the beautiful and serene Sibley Pond and miles of trails perfect for any outdoor enthusiast. 

85 Mill St., Roswell, www.georgiatrails.com

6.3 miles

Notable features: Old Roswell Mill ruins, Old Roswell Covered Bridge

Along the multi-use paths of these historic trails, hikers will enjoy discovering the Old Roswell Mill ruins and Old Roswell Covered Bridge, along with a varied and challenging route that takes you to the top of the knoll and features scenic views of Vickery Creek.

Sawnee Mountain Indian Seats Trail

4075 Spot Road, Cumming, www.atlantatrails.com

4 miles

Notable features: Mountain top rock outcroppings, panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, abandoned gold mine

Accessible at the Sawnee Mountain Preserve, this 4-mile hike travels along a mild incline to the top of Sawnee Mountain, where you will see the "Indian Seats," rock outcroppings that offer unbeatable panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. Along the way, you'll see the amazingly creepy remnants of an abandoned gold mine, guarded by an iron grate. 

DeSoto Falls Trail

Trailhead located 18 miles north of Dahlonega, www.georgiatrails.com

2.4 miles

Notable features: Stunning waterfall views, mountain streams, viewing platform under waterfall, rhododendron

Thought to have been traveled by Hernando DeSoto's men in the 1500s, the DeSoto Falls Trail enables hikers to experience multiple breathtaking waterfall views, including a viewing platform hidden right underneath the flowing falls. Throughout the trails, you'll find mountain streams, including Frogtown Creek, clear ponds and plenty of photo opportunities for those shutterbugs out there. 

Big Trees Trail

7645 Roswell Rd. NE, Sandy Springs, www.georgiatrails.com

1.2 miles

Notable features: Large boulders, gurgling stream, picturesque views

If you're looking for that perfect local hike that makes you feel like you're out in the middle of the forest, Big Trees Trail has your name on it. Following the Chattahoochee River tributary Power's Branch, this streamside hike features massive granite boulders, tree canopies, wetlands and cascading creeks. 

Amicalola Falls is Georgia's tallest waterfall as well as the tallest cascading waterfall in the Southeast. (gastateparks.org/For the AJC)

Amicalola Falls Trail

3350 Klondike Rd., Lithonia, www.georgiatrails.com

2.3 miles

Notable features: Giant gneiss outcroppings, lake views, vernal pools, cairn-led trail

From red moss and vernal pools, to rocky outcroppings and rare trees, Arabia Mountain makes the perfect hiking stop for people interested in unusual and unique flora. Formed from gneiss, the outcroppings found at Arabia Mountain will make you feel like you're on another planet. To protect the beauty and ecosystem found within the area, make sure to stay on the cairn-led path when hiking.

Wolfden Loop

Located near Warm Springs, www.atlantatrails.com

6.7 miles

Notable features: Diverse foliage, animal habitats, hand-carved stone steps, multiple waterfalls, wooden bridges

Perfect for animal lovers, Wolfden Loop really lives up to its name. This nearly 7-mile loop includes beaver ponds and a rocky wolf's den, along with a path that takes you through stunning grasslands, towering trees and multiple tumbling waterfalls. Hikers will also enjoy the thrill of climbing hand-carved stone steps and crossing quaint wooden bridges. 

Kennesaw Mountain Trail

900 Kennesaw Mountain Dr., Kennesaw, www.georgiatrails.com

1.1 miles

Notable features: Civil War structures and sites, panoramic views

Hikers interested in a little history will enjoy the Kennesaw Mountain Trail, which takes you on a nearly 100-foot climb up to the top of Kennesaw Mountain. Throughout this interpretive trail, hikers will get a chance to see actual Civil War structures and sites, including rifle pits, gun embankments and trenches, ending at the panoramic overlook with sweeping views of the surrounding area. 

Amicalola Falls Trail

418 Amicalola Falls State Park Rd., Dawsonville, www.atlantatrails.com

2.3 miles

Notable features: Stunning waterfall climb, picturesque views

This 2.3-mile trail takes you up 600 stairs right alongside Amicalola Falls, a breathtaking 730-foot waterfall churning and tumbling down a rocky cliff. Throughout this majestic hike, you'll feel the misty coolness coming off of the waterfall and see lush ferns, towering trees and vibrant wildflowers along the rigorous trail. 

Spring Guide OTP edition is a seasonal series from The Atlanta Journal Constitution that highlights some of the best dining and outdoor experiences taking place outside of Atlanta’s perimeter. 

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