Once again I hit a trail that not only gave me a good hike (5.6 miles) but also was chock full of history. As I mentioned before in my post about hiking #14 – Allatoona Pass, I love a hike that has historic value, especially Civil War era and there’s no shortage of that in the Atlanta area. Cheatham Hill is inside Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Park and is one of several you can choose from covering a rather large area. This trail was 5.6 miles and is, amazingly, the first trail I’ve hiked that match up with what the book said.
First, a little history… The battle at Kennesaw Mountain lasted from June 19 to July 2, 1864 with a total of 5,350 casualties between the Union and Confederacy. The heaviest fighting took place on June 27, 1864. The hiking trails throughout the battlefield cross through many historic sites and the ruins of the encampments there. The Confederate troops were camped all over the mountain with the Federal troops scattered around the base.
I met up at the visitors’ center with my friend Brian and before heading out to hike we checked out the visitor’s center museum and took the shuttle bus up to the top of Kennesaw Mountain. You can hike to the top, that hike is The Burnt Hickory Loop #19 in the book, and the most difficult hike of the 60. I hiked some light trails at the top of the mountain and took a few pics from the top before heading back down to hike. If you are in the area to hike any of the trails and have not been before, the visitors’ center and mountain top are worth checking out. We went on Labor Day and they were having artillery demonstrations so I also got to hear a presentation on the use of cannons and see them fire one a couple times. Very cool to see but those bums wouldn’t let me shoot it. Whatever.
After checking out the history we drove to the trailhead as it’s a few miles from the visitors’ center. Almost immediately after hitting the trail you come to some earthworks with two cannons on display, a little further and you come to the Illinois Monument. After the monument there are a few more historical markers but from here on it it’s mostly your basic hiking trail. I’m assuming Mr. and Mrs. Golden (the book’s authors) are in better shape than I am as on a couple occasions they’ve ranked trails as easy that I would say are moderate difficulty. To me an “easy” trail is going to be simple flatlands where the Cheatham Hill Trails does have a nice scattering of moderate hills. My buddy agreed with me that he would rate this as moderate.
I really enjoyed this trail. It had some great scenery with a mix of heavy tree cover with narrow trails, wide trails through lush fields, streams/creeks and and decent hills. There was also a decent amount of flora and fauna to see with lots of unusual mushrooms, insects (lots of spiders, which I thought was cool), squirrels and chipmunks and I’m sure others. One note, this trail allows horses on it and that is very obvious but the massive amounts of horse poop on the trails, I mean seriously a lot of poop. I don’t know how many horses it would take to poop that much but my guess would be around 850. No but seriously, there was a lot of poop on the trail.
We chugged along at a pretty good pace and thankfully there was a strategically placed water fountain about 3/4 of the way through the trail. Speaking of that, make sure to take plenty of water and maybe some GORP or energy bars and charge up your cell phone or GPS before heading out – this hike took right at 3 hours. The pace of flatlands and hills is just enough to keep your blood pumping without overworking those that are in less than stellar shape. At one point Brian wanted to throw a rock at a young lady who ran by us at the end of the trail and up a hill just as we were dragging ourselves up it with out last bit of energy… I just barely talked him out of it.
As I type this up I realize how much I enjoyed this trail. It’s never boring as there’s such a variety of history and nature to check out and it gives you a good workout. I definitely recommend this hike. Pack a light bag with water and a camera and go enjoy a great day hiking. This is my favorite hike of done so far.