You’ve feasted on turkey, cheered during football, and succumb to a tryptophan-induced nap. What else can you accomplish over the extended Thanksgiving break? I recommend a “Goldilocks” hike. You know, not too short and not too long….it has to be just right. In addition to easing any guilt over that extra slice of pecan pie, it’s the perfect way to enjoy Fall’s weather and spend time with the kids. Here are five of my family’s favorite hikes for Thanksgiving. Bonus: They are all free (or cheap!)
Hikes in Atlanta for Thanksgiving Weekend
Cascade Springs Nature Preserve (Decatur)
See Civil War earth mounds, remnants of a long-forgotten luxury resort, and a beautiful springhouse with a charming offset window. The spring waters were once bottled and sold, thought to bring healing to those that drank them. The trail makes a loop. I recommend beginning the trail to the right of the springhouse in order to end with a gorgeous view of the cascades.
Fall Branch Falls (Blue Ridge)
This peaceful mountain hike sits far from any busy road or bustling neighborhood. The trees are towering, providing shade and lush scapes of fern and moss as you make your way to the 30 ft. falls. Boulders line the creek creating a rushing sound as the water runs down, adding to the tranquil nature of the hike. It isn’t a flat, stroller-friendly terrain, but it is still easy, short, and satisfying.
Sweetwater Creek State Park (Lithia Springs)
Explore the Red Trail running parallel to the riverbank for an easy, tranquil hike. You’ll see large metamorphic rock along the path, which caused the unique shoals and falls in this part of the river. For an easy stroll, follow the trail to the half-mile mark at the New Manchester Mill ruins, and then head back. The hike is free, but parking is $4 per car unless you have a Ga State Parks Pass (which I highly recommend.)
Arabia Mountain (Lithonia)
Make your way from the trailhead at the AWARE building, following the blue blaze to the base of the monolith. After that, track the cairns to the top for stunning views. If you’re looking for something more diverse, try the Forest and Mile Rock trails which begin at the Nature Center. This two-mile loop includes more monolith, a lake, forest, and an ever-changing scenery.
Big Trees Forest Preserve (Roswell)
This unassuming forest is hidden by most passers-by because the entrance is in an office park. You’ll find 1.5 miles of mulched walking trails, dotted with streams, bridges, and towering white oak trees as ancient as 200 years old. The rock bridge along the Powers Branch trail is a favorite spot for the kids.
Lesli Peterson is the owner of 365AtlantaFamily, which offers a daily dose of inspiration to local families. She is also a freelance family travel writer for several online publications and serves as Regional Editor for Trekaroo. She is a homeschooling mom to 2 young boys and bonus mom to two teenagers. From her home base of Atlanta, Lesli spends her time life-learning with the kids one adventure at a time, and sharing her experiences along the way.
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