Iron Hill Loop – #18 in 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Atlanta

Peaceful Day on The Lake

Peaceful Day on The Lake

I finally got another hike in after much too long of an absence.  Hopefully I can get my schedule back on track to do this more regularly again!

This is the first hike I’ve done where I’m referencing the 3rd Edition of the 60 Hikes Atlanta book.  Previously #18 in the book was the Homestead Trail at Red Top Mountain State Park which I hiked back in November, 2012.  This trail is in the same park, just a different trail.

Iron Hill Loop at Red Top Mountain State Park
Trailhead Coordinates: 34.13975, -84.70058
Distance: 3.8 miles

Red Top Mountain State Park is so named for the deep red color that makes up the soil of the mountain.  The deep read indicates the presence of iron and this trail winds along two open-pit iron mines that were located here.  The park occasionally has iron pour events to commemorate the mining history.  The loop also winds along Lake Allatoona and you get some great long distance views, there’s also a variety of wildlife here and we saw various lizards, rabbits and squirrels as well as a pair of Red-Headed Woodpeckers that got away before we could get a picture.

Dragonfly - Master of Camouflage

Dragonfly – Master of Camouflage

The trail itself is quite easygoing with only slight elevation changes.  It’s quite wide and well maintained.  Although it is a mixed use trail most people out the day we went were hiking, however there were a few bikers on the trail as well.  In total the hike was 3.78 miles and took 1 hour 43 minutes at a leisurely pace.  The weather was perfect and this is a hike I’ll definitely hit up again.  If you’re in the area this is worth checking out or any of the several others at the mountain.

If you’d rather take it a bit easier there is a swim beach at the park as well as several picnic areas with grills, boat rental and cabins.  It’s an easy 30 minute ride from Atlanta and a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle.

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New Edition of 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Atlanta

60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Atlanta - 3rd Edition

60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Atlanta – 3rd Edition

There is now an updated version of the 60 Hikes Atlanta book available.  You can get it on Amazon.com here.  If you have a Prime membership at Amazon you even get free 2-day shipping.

In the latest edition there are some new trails included and they have updated information as well as supplying GPS coordinates in LAT/LON as opposed to UTM coordinates.  I’ve already upgraded my copy and it continues to be a great resource, even better with the few updates.

You should definitely pick up a copy.

Stone Mountain Loop – #43 from 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Atlanta (I’m still here!)

Stone Mountain Reflected in Venable Lake

Stone Mountain Reflected in Venable Lake

I’m still here!!!

Just noticed it’s been almost a month since I’ve posted.  Well, it’s been quite a month.  I started a new job and was out of town for a week then when I got back to Atlanta it was full speed ahead.  I’ve been working long hours and this past Saturday was my first day off in 3 weeks.  My diet, workouts, hiking, lifting and sleep have suffered from the new schedule.  I think I’m getting the new routine down some and hope to get my plan moving in the right direction again.  I did get in a hike this weekend and have 1 other (plus this one) that I need to share.

I did this hike wayyy back on January 12th.  We haven’t had much of a winter this year and even for Atlanta we’ve been unseasonably warm.  January 12th was one of those days, 75 degrees and sunny.  It was glorious.  Stone Mountain park has a winter attraction they call Snow Mountain, where they cover a hill and playground with snow and let people sled and build forts and such.  It was rather weird seeing people in shorts and t-shirts playing in the snow.  There’s also a “village” area at Stone Mountain that has shops and restaurants, however they were all closed as I’m sure they had no idea the park would be packed in January.

Sunset at Venable Lake

Sunset at Venable Lake

We got to the park around 2:30 and headed out around the loop trail.  Stone Mountain has, of course, a trail up the mountain in addition to the loop trail.  We decided to hit the loop this time.  The book has it at 5.5 miles but with some side excursions we ended up at 6.83 miles in just under 4 hours.  It was a great hike with a nice variety of terrain and scenery.  At one point the loop trail crosses over a part of the mountain and you get a good workout in, there were other areas with some small hills as well.  You circle Venable Lake and then the path splits Lake Venable and Stone Mountain Lake winds around the east side of the mountain passing an old mill and a covered bridge before returning you to the base of the mountain.

Stone Mountain Memorial

Stone Mountain Memorial

If you’ve read a few of my other posts you know I like history with my hiking, Stone Mountain has plenty of both.   The mountain is probably best known for the carving on the north face of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.  It is the largest bas relief sculpture in the world and was conceived by a charter member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.  Gutzon Borglum, who carved Mt. Rushmore, was originally commissioned to carve the piece and did begin work but had a falling out with the organizers and abandoned the project.  It was finally completed in 1972.  This is the VERY short version of the history of Stone Mountain, please do follow some of the links to read more when you have a chance.

Stone Mountain Park is a great place for a day trip.  Whether you want to go hiking, do some fishing, make candles, see a glass blowing demonstration, or check out the laser light show there’s plenty to do.  Next time I go back I’ll have to climb to the top!

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Pickett’s Mill Trail – #22 from 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Atlanta

Creek at Pickett's Mill Trail

Creek at Pickett’s Mill Trail

First hike of 2013!  Between the weather and the holidays it’s been a while since I’ve been hiking.  My Christmas and New Year were spent with great friends and filled with plenty of food and drink, it’s definitely time to get back at it now.  This wasn’t a long hike, it was only supposed to be 3.1 miles going in but with some trail section closed I ended up with 2.37 miles total.

Pickett’s Mill Trail at Pickett’s Mill Battlefield Historic Site
$4.00/person for adult admission
Trailhead Coordinates: 33.973908, -84.759223
Distance Hiked: 2.37 miles
Hiking Time: 1:11:20
Click to download GPX file

There’s a good bet that  unless you live in the area, or are a Civil War buff, you’ve never heard of The Battle of Pickett’s Mill.  One reason being that Sherman got his butt kicked so thoroughly at Pickett’s Mill that he decided to leave mention of it out of his notes and memoirs, and as we all know it’s the victors that write the history books.  It’s understandable he’d want to forget it, the Union lost 1,600 troops compared to the Confederacy losing just 500.   I use “just 500 lives lost” only as a reference to the fact the Union lost over 3 times that many.  The battle took place on May 27, 1864 and covered a rather hilly and heavily forested area.  In some cases the soldiers were entrenched less than 100 yards from each other.

Soldier Keeping an Eye on the Battlefield

Soldier Keeping an Eye on the Battlefield

Hiking Pickett’s Mill Trail I can imagine what it must have been like to do battle there.  Most of the terrain is hilly with a couple rather steep sections where the soldiers faced each other on opposite sides of a ravine.  There’s a small creek that runs throughout the area and it is heavily wooded.  Almost 150 years later it made for a very nice hike, it’s humbling to think that over 2,000 men lost their lives on and around these hiking trails.  The trails are very well marked with like-new blaze markers up as well as numerical points of interest which you can refer to on your map.  There’s also a nice visitor center with a small museum and gift shop and restrooms, water and a soda machine are available just outside the center, there are no other facilities at the park.

Overall this is a nice, leisurely hike with a great history lesson.  Definitely worth checking out.

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Pine Mountain Trail – East Loop and Summit

Pine Mountain Summit View

Pine Mountain Summit View

PINE MOUNTAIN RECREATION AREA – CARTERSVILLE, GA
Trailhead Coordinates: 34.177045 N, -84.737294 W
Distance Hiked: 3.04 miles (East Loop and Summit Overlook)
Time to Hike: 1:50:21
No GPX file for this one due to technical difficulties.

It’s been a few weeks since I got a hike in and I was ready to go this weekend.  Weather, work, holidays… ’tis the season, I guess.  I made sure to get some time this weekend and was excited to check out a trail close to my house, even though it’s not in my 60 Hikes book, although I’m told that it will be in the next edition.  This is the toughest hike I’ve personally done (remember, I’m a newb trying to lose weight) not counting Brasstown Bald.  Although Brasstown Bald was a more strenuous climb it was only 1/2 mile each way and on a paved trail.

The Pine Mountain Recreation Area is situated on Lake Allatoona and not far from Red Top Mountain.  It’s divided into a few trails as well as the summit overlook.  I hiked the East Loop and Summit, the West Loop connects to the East Loop for those that would like a longer hike.  For the East Loop and Summit my roundtrip was 3.04 miles, if you add in the West Loop the total hike is around 4.50 miles.  There are several picnic areas and lake access close to the area, however for some reason most of them were closed this weekend.

Interesting Tree on the East Loop Trail

Interesting Tree on the East Loop Trail

It’s important to note that a Georgia mountain is a bit less… mountainous than some of those beasts out West.  The trail started at an elevation of just over 900 feet and at the summit it’s about 1,500.  A good climb for me and the largest elevation gain of the trail I’ve hiked around  here.  It got my heart rate going pretty good and I burnt enough calories to have a few beers with friends after the hike and not even worry about it.  The terrain also offers a bit of a challenge with rocks and roots along the winding trail.  The view from the top was awesome and gave an almost 360 degree view of the area including Lake Allatoona and North Georgia.  To make it even more picturesque there were a few hawks (I’m gonna call them hawks, could have been buzzards – I was pretty tired once I got up there) circling around over the lake.

I’ll definitely hike this trail again, next time I’ll have to check out the West Loop as well.  Pine Mountain Recreation Area is less well known than Kennesaw Mountain just a bit south, if you’re looking for a hike it’s a less crowded area and much more geared to the hiking than the history.

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Island Ford Trail – #4 in 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Atlanta

Chattahoochee River at Island Ford

Chattahoochee River at Island Ford

ISLAND FORD TRAIL AT CHATTAHOOCHEE RIVER NATIONAL RECREATION AREA
Trailhead Coordinates: 33:987084 N , -84.325551 W
Distance hiked: 5.13 miles
Time to hike: 2:22:38
Click to download GPX file

This hike makes twelve that I’ve completed from the book 60 Hikes Within 60 miles of Atlanta, I’m making pretty good progress hiking through all the trails in the book.

Island Ford Trail is located within the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, a 48 mile area along the river that preserves historic and recreational spots.  It is part of the National Parks Service.  Island Ford was one of the two main fords used to cross the Chattahoochee River by settlers who preferred not to pay the expensive ferry fees to cross at other locations.  Due to water release from Buford Dam it is difficult today to tell the exact spot used for crossing the river.  The area was also the location of the summer family home of GA Superior Court Judge Samuel Hewlett, which is now used as the visitor’s center.

Brian is Crazy

This is why it’s dangerous to hand someone your camera and ask them to, “Just take some random pics.”

We started to feel the cooler temps the morning of the hike, when I arrived at the trail the temp was 38F.  No problem, I pulled my beanie on tight and put on my gloves.  Boo was ready to go and didn’t want to wait for me to get my gloves and hat on but we managed to get her leashed up and on our way before too long.  A few friends joined me for this one and we hiked a slightly different path than what is listed in the guidebook, it ended up at a little over 5 miles.  The trail is mostly easy terrain with a couple of decent, winding hill climbs.  There are a couple areas where the trail is a bit rugged and you need to watch your footing, trekking poles would be beneficial here.  The leaves were mostly fallen as well and covered rocks and roots, as I’m not a sure-footed as a mountain goat I slipped and tripped a bit, wear some boots with ankle support for this one.  In addition to some great views of the Chattahoochee River loaded with Canadian Geese the area is heavily forested with some awesome rock formations.  There’s a nice, little fishing pond located along the trail and right on the access road and this area of the river is also stocked with trout, next time I’ll have to bring a fishing pole.

We wrapped this up in just under 2 1/2 hours and the temps had climbed into the lower 50’s, with the constant movement I was plenty warm and even started to break a sweat.  To celebrate such a glorious hike on a beautiful day we headed up Roswell Road a bit to North River Tavern for some wings and beer, if you’re in the area it’s a great place for both.

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