11 Hiking Trails in Georgia (For History Lovers)

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Hiking is a Great Way to Explore Georgia’s Past

What are the best hiking trails in Georgia for history buffs? Georgia has many trails that let you enjoy hiking as you learn about its past.

Sites and trails with Native American and Civil War history include:

Native American Sites & Trails

hiking trails in georgia
Native American History Hikes
  • Etowah Indian Mounds & New Echota State Historic Sites (2 easy nature loop trails)
  • Ft. Mountain State Park (14 great trails)
  • Kolomoki Mounds State Park (3 scenic Trails)
  • Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park (6 easy trails)
  • Track Rock Gap – Rock Pictures Site (Arkaquah Trail – difficult out and back trail)

Civil War Sites & Trails

Civil War History Hikes
  • Allatoona Pass Battlefield (1 easy, out and back, 1.7 mile trail)
  • Brown’s Mill Battlefield (a 2.6 mile easy, loop trail)
  • Chickamauga Battlefield (26 hiking trails)
  • Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park (25 great hiking trails)
  • Pickett’s Mill Battlefield (4 miles of forest trails)
  • Sope Creek Paper Mill Ruins Hiking Trail (3 mile scenic trail)

Hiking brings people closer to nature. Hiking also helps connect us with the history of our surroundings. Hikers can see traces of people who occupied the land before them. In Georgia, we can see ancient Indian burial mounds, old Civil War battlefields, and more.

Hiking lets you do more than explore Georgia’s natural beauty. When you hike, you also get to explore and understand Georgia’s past.

If you need hiking gear, please consider:

Hiking Trails In Georgia For Native American History

hiking trails in georgia
Native American History Hiking Trails

Native American history in the United States is a story of continual conflict. It is a story of wars, treaties, and peace talks. It’s a story of how two vastly different cultures clashed with one another for centuries.

Native American history is ongoing as Native Americans still fight for their rights today. They also seek to preserve their past with museums and memorials. These hikes help us understand Native Americans in Georgia yesterday and today.

Anytime of the year is a good time to hike these trails. In the spring, enjoy the new green growth. During the summer, love the wild flowers. During the fall season, Georgia’s leaves turn into many beautiful colors.

These hikes make great family outings. Most of the hikes are easy enough for all ages. Around every turn, you will find beautiful scenes for photos.

The Creek’s Etowah Indian Mounds & Cherokee’s New Echota State Historic Sites (2 Easy Nature Loop Trails )

Enjoy a day trip to these sites. They are less than 40 minutes apart. A day gives you time to explore both parks and enjoy each of the park’s nature loop trail. The Creek and Cherokee tribes were closely related.

Etowah Indian Mounds

Native Americans around the Etowah River were a culture that liked rituals. The mounds served as a platform for religious buildings. Priests and leaders had homes on the mounds too. The mounds were also used for public rituals. Modern Creeks still consider the mounds their ancestral home.

Etowah Mounds

The mounds are the most intact Mississippian culture site in the Southeastern United States. They were home to several thousand Native Americans. The Mississippians were a native farming culture in the Southeast from around 800 A.D. to 1600 A.D.

New Echota

The Cherokee government established a new capital in Georgia. The capital was named New Echota. Tragically, The Trail of Tears began here.

The New Echota site includes:

hiking trails in georgia
Trail of Tears – New Echota
  • Six earthen mounds
  • A plaza
  • Village area
  • Borrow pits
  • A defensive ditch
  • Council house
  • Court house
  • Print shop
  • Outbuildings such as smoke houses, corn cribs and barns
  • A treaty to give up much of their land
  • The assembly point for The Trail of Tears

Major events that happened here include:

  • A U.S. Supreme Court Case
  • Self government by the Cherokee
  • The first Indian language newspaper

The sites include 2 easy nature loop trails.

Etowah Mounds From Acworth, Georgia:

New Echota From Etowah Mounds:

Ft. Mountain State Park (14 Great Hiking Trails In Georgia)

The area around Fort Mountain State Park was home to the Cherokee Indians for hundreds of years. The park’s name comes from a very old rock at the southwestern end of the Cohutta Mountains. The wall protects Fort Mountain for 855 feet. The wall’s height varies between two and six feet. Archeologists date the wall between 500 and 1500 B.C.

Ft. Mountain Wall

Cherokee legend says the wall was built by the “Moon eyed people”. The legend says they lived in the area until driven away by the Cherokee. They were described as small and light skinned. They were supposed to have the ability to see better at night than during the day.

Different theories describe the wall’s purpose. Some say the wall was a military defense. Others say the wall was was a spiritual structure. The wall’s real purpose remains a mystery.

At 2,850 feet above sea level, the park makes a great place to hike. To get to the park, take a scenic drive on Georgia Highway 52. When you hike Ft. Mountain, you enjoy streams, a lake, blueberry thickets, hardwoods, wild flowers, and more.

You have a choice of 14 great trails that range from easy to hard.

From Chatsworth, Georgia:

Kolomoki Mounds State Park (3 Scenic Hiking Trails In Georgia)

hiking trails in georgia
Kolomoki Mounds

The area around Kolomoki Mounds State Park was lived on by Woodland Indians. They lived there from 350 A.D. to 750 A.D. The Woodlands were a hunter-gatherer culture.

The site is the oldest and largest Woodland Indian site in the Southeastern United States. The site has Georgia’s oldest great temple mound. The mound stands 57 feet high.

The site has three scenic trails, all rated easy.

From Columbus, Georgia:

Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park (6 Easy Hiking Trails In Georgia)

History

The Ocmulgee Mounds show evidence of people living there during several phases of native peoples. The peoples range from hunters during the Ice Age to the more modern Muscogee Creek tribe.

Ocmulgee Mounds

People lived there for at least 17,000 years. The early people had religious temples and burial sites here. They also farmed nearby, had homes here, and met here for trade.

The Muscogees were the largest tribe in modern day Georgia and Alabama. The Ocmulgee Mounds were a sacred site to the Muscogees.

In 1690 there was a Scottish fur trading post nearby. The Muscogees set up a village close by. The village made it more convenient to trade furs.

Sadly, in the 1830s any Muscogees left in the area were removed. They were removed as part of Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal efforts.

The Ocmulgee Mounds Park has 6 trails rated easy.

From Macon, Georgia:

Native Americans And The Track Rock Gap Archaeological Site (Arkaquah Trail – Out and Back Trail)

Many Indian tribes told stories with pictures. The Track Rock Archaeological Site has some of the best Indian rock art in the Southeastern United States.

Most believe that the Cherokee Indians made the art. Some researchers think that the rock came from all three tribes that lived in the area. Tribes that lived there included the Cherokee, Muscogee Creek, and Catawba tribes.

hiking trails in georgia
Track Rock Gap

The carvings show animal and bird tracks. You also see pictures of human foot prints. In addition to tracks and footprints, you see pictures of crosses and circles.

The site is near an old Native American trade path. Natives travelled the path north and south through the north Georgia mountains. The site and trade route are several thousand years old. The path is often called the New World Appian Way.

No one knows the answer to the mystery of the rock art from the past. Some say the art represents rituals. Others say the art was made by hunters so they would have a successful hunt.

The Arkaquah Trail is rated difficult. Hike the trail 12 miles up to Brasstown Bald and back. The Track Rock Gap site is at the beginning. The hike offers stunning mountain views especially during the winter.

From Young Harris Georgia:

Hiking Trails In Georgia For Civil War History

Civil War History Hiking Trails

Civil War trails in Georgia offer you a great way to explore this part of Georgia’s past. The Civil War is a major part of American history. Georgia has many sites where you can learn about the war.

Georgia was one of the 7 states that seceded from the Union. Little fighting happened in Georgia until General Sherman’s march to the sea. Most of the fighting was in 1863 and 1864.

5 popular Civil War sites with hiking trails include:

Allatoona Pass Battlefield (1 Easy Out And Back 1.7 Mile Trail)

Two major Civil War events happened at the Allatoona Pass Battlefield.

hiking trails in georgia
Allatoona Pass

First, the pass is the setting for the Disney movie “The Great Locomotive Chase” based on real events. Union Army volunteers stole a train named The General. They took the train north to damage the Confederate’s vital W&A railroad line. The Union volunteers were finally captured and quickly executed.

Second, after Atlanta fell, the pass was the site of a bloody battle. Of the 5,301 soldiers who fought, 1603 died.

Today, you can enjoy hiking an easy trail here.

From Atlanta:

Brown’s Mill Battlefield (A 2.6 Mile Easy Loop Trail)

The Battle of Brown’s Mill was an attempt to cut off Atlanta’s supplies and communications. The Union also wanted to free their 32,000 prisoners in Andersonville Prison. The attempt to free them failed. The Union lost the battle of Brown’s Mill. The loss forced General Sherman begin a long siege of Atlanta.

Now, you can hike a 2.6 loop trail. The trail has an easy rating and features beautiful wildflowers.

From Atlanta:

Chickamauga Battlefield

Located in Northwest Georgia, this site preserves two Civil War Battlefields. You can see the sites of the Battle of Chickamauga and the Siege of Chattanooga.

Chickamauga

Union forces pushed the Confederates out of Chattanooga, Tennessee in September 1863. The city was important for the railroads that met here. The railroads were key to supplying the South.

After they were forced out of the city, the South wanted to retake it. The armies met again at Chickamauga Creek outside of the city.

The Battle of Chickamauga was a costly battle. In the 2 days of fighting, the North had 16,170 casualties with 1,657 dead. The South had 18,454 casualties with 2,312 dead.

From Atlanta:

Kennesaw Mountain National Historic Battlefield (25 Great Hiking Trails In Georgia)

hiking trails in georgia
Kennesaw Mountain

The Civil War was a major push for Civil Rights. Some of the war’s fiercest fighting was in Georgia during the Atlanta Campaign. Many say that Altana, Georgia is the birthplace of the Civil Rights movement.

Some of the campaign’s most brutal fighting happened during the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. 5,350 soldiers were killed during the battle.

Also, the Creek and Cherokee Indians made their home here. The lived around and in what is now the park. They lived there from 900 A.D. until they were forced to leave on the Trail of Tears march.

The name Kennesaw comes from the Cherokee word Gah-nee-sah. Gah-nee-sah means burial ground.

Enjoy 25 hiking trails. More trails open each year!

From Atlanta:

Pickett’s Mill Battlefield (4 Miles Of Forest Trails)

Pickett’s Mill

Visit Pickett’s Mill State Historic site to see one of the best preserved Civil War battlefields in the United States.

Pickett’s Mill was part of the fierce Atlanta Campaign. The battle of the mill saw some of the campaign’s most savage fighting. In one brutal day, the Union Army lost 1,600 men. The Confederate Army lost almost 500 men.

Around 14,000 Union troops attacked around 10,000 Confederate troops. The battle began at 5P.M. with the Union charge. The fighting lasted into the night. At daybreak, seasoned soldiers were quoted saying that they were literally sickened by the site of the battle’s bodies.

Now, you can hike 4 miles of trail in the site’s tree and flower covered forest.

From Atlanta:


Sope Creek Paper Mill Ruins Hiking Trail (3 Mile Scenic Trail)

During the Civil War, the Sope Creek Paper Mill was important to the Confederacy. The mill made paper the Confederates used in their guns. The paper had a premeasured amount of gunpowder and a ball (bullet) used in their rifles.

hiking trails in georgia
Sope Creek

There was a rumor that the mill also printed Confederate money and bonds. That seems to be just rumor though.

The Union burned the mill as well as any other resources that would extend the war.

Today, you can hike 3 scenic miles beside an creek and loop to a calm, pretty pond. During the summer, enjoy the many colorful wild flowers along the trail.

From Atlanta:

If you need hiking gear, please consider:

Summary

Even though Georgia’s Native Indian and Civil War History were not our best moments, they remain important. We need to remember history’s lessons. We want to copy the good lessons and avoid the bad lessons.

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11 Best Hiking Trails In Georgia
(For History Lovers)
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