Whether you’re new to hiking with your baby or toddler, or you’re looking for a new trail to explore, the Hike it Baby community is a valuable resource for finding family hiking trails around the country. In this article, we share three beautiful hikes in Georgia to explore with babies and young children.
Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area (Lithonia, GA)
Located just 20 minutes outside Atlanta, Arabia Mountain is a little piece of paradise within easy access of the city. One of three granite monadnocks in the area, it boasts a rare ecosystem not found in many other places in the South. In the spring, a rare plant called Diamorpha, or Elf Orpine, blooms in the solution pits that have formed on the top of the mountain. The granite rock is dotted with patches of red and white as the tiny flowers decorate its surface.
The mountain itself has a gradual slope, making it easy for toddlers to scramble up the side to the top. Once at the top, there are plenty of places to picnic and enjoy the views. The area is wide open and flat, a great place for toddlers to roam and explore. Do try to keep them out of the water pools at the top as it disturbs the rare plant life that lives and survives there. With some close observation in the right season, tadpoles in the pools can provide a great treat for the little ones.
- Avoid hiking the mountain when it’s wet or raining as the granite becomes very slippery.
- Play a game looking for the giant rock cairns that mark the trail making your way up to the mountain.
- For a longer hike, combine the Mountain Top Trail with the Mountain View Trail, which makes its way around a lake below the mountain.
- The AWARE Wildlife Center, located at the base of the mountain, hosts tours on the weekends of its facility. Call ahead to confirm the day and time of the tour and include it in your day.
Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve (Decatur, GA)
If you’ll be in Atlanta and need a quick place to escape into nature with the kids, Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve is the perfect spot! Tucked away behind a residential neighborhood, the preserve is home to 1.5 miles of trail and an abundance of wildlife. A birding paradise, it is home to owls, hawks, woodpeckers and so many others. Hikes can often spot deer on the trails along with turtles and the occasional beaver. The flat trails that crisscross throughout make it a toddler-led paradise with boardwalks, a sandy beach next to a creek and open places with room to play and explore. It’s no wonder that this space is a favorite among nature-based preschools and after-school camps.
- There can be lots of mud on wetter days, so be sure to bring the right shoes and a change of clothes.
- Be on the lookout for man-made structures in the interior of the preserve. Many people enjoy building shelters, and they can be fun places to play and explore.
- A visit in every season is worth it as the preserve changes drastically from one to the next.
- There are no bathrooms nearby, so be sure to come prepared.
Amicalola Falls (Dawsonville, GA)
At 729 feet high, Amicalola Falls is the highest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi. That alone should provide a good excuse to visit. If it’s not enough, though, the falls have also become the gateway to the Southern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain. This makes it a mecca for hikers starting their long journey north or a celebration point for those finishing the long trek. The trail to the top consists of 604 steps, which may be tough to tackle for even the most ambitious of toddlers. However, there is an alternate trail to the top via an old fire road that provides an easier ascent. You can then walk down the last section of stairs from the top to a landing with a great view of the falls without having to tackle the entirety of the staircase.
- Try to visit during the Appalachian Trail Kick-Off Weekend, usually the first weekend in March. It’s a party you won’t want to miss with lots of opportunities for education about the AT and backpacking in general.
- If you want a luxury experience, you can stay at the Amicalola Lodge. It’s one of the nicest lodges in a Georgia state park.
- Take some time to explore the history of the Appalachian Trail at the Visitor Center.
Photos by Melissa Hollingsworth.
More Resources for Families with Young Children
Georgia offers an abundance of trails for families with young children. For more family hike ideas, see:
- Hike it Baby calendar (or connect with the local branch)
- Atlanta Trails
- Hike it Baby: 100 Awesome Outdoor Adventures with Babies and Toddlers – New Book by Hike it Baby Founder Shanti Hodges
- 3 Beautiful hikes in Washington state for young children
- 3 Gorgeous hikes in New York for young children
- 3 Beautiful hikes in Ohio for young children
What are your favorite hikes in Georgia for families with babies, toddlers and young children? Leave a comment below!