Red Top Mountain State Park

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About

Summary

Red Top Mountain’s moniker is both ironic and yet it makes complete sense. The park itself is not a mountain at all, but rather a peninsula of quaint trails, campgrounds and cottages surrounded by a 12,000 acre lake.

Written by

Alexa Lampasona

Distance

12.0 miles

Several shorter trails options are available so enjoy at your leisure

Destination Distance From Downtown

31.5 miles

Difficulty

2 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

2 hours

1-3 hours

Seasonality

All Seasons

Dog Friendly

Yes

Fees Permits

Yes

$5 daily parking or annual State Parks Pass

Topographical Map

Red Top Mountain Map

Land Website

Red Top Mountain

Review

Intro

Red Top Mountain’s moniker is both ironic and yet it makes complete sense. The park itself is not a mountain at all, but rather a peninsula of quaint trails, campgrounds and cottages surrounded by a 12,000 acre lake. The real draw is the amount of water paddlers, motorboats and swimmers can dip into. Many paddlers will put in at Red Top to paddle south on the Etowah River to Indian Mounds. However “Red Top” indicates the park’s soil, a rich red coloration from the high ore content.

The Homestead Trail and Sweet Gum Trail both have access from the Park Office, but you can begin them from the start at the Visitor Center for two lollipop loops. Follow the yellow-blazed trail to the right going out as you hike along the contour of the lake. You’ll see views of Allatoona Lake through the trees like slatted blinds. At the northernmost edge of the park, the trail curves west and guides you through the woods for the return trip.  

The highlight of Sweet Gum Trail is its southern journey along one of the lake’s coves. The water ebbs gently into shore, no matter how crowded the lake seems to get. 

What Makes It Great

On the map, an avid hiker or runner would easily overlook the White Tail Trail. Give it chance, for at the end of the 0.5 mile hike you are dumped into a jumble of rocks that lead to Lake Allatoona. Come early in the morning when the park opens to watch the pale light of dawn reveal itself from the trees. Scramble down the jumble of rocks to perch at the lake’s banks as you witness the pristine natural beauty which seems to match the park’s gentle topographical nature.

Who is Going to Love It

Beginner hikers will find the scenery rewarding on the compact soil trails at Red Top Mountain. The longest distance is 5.5 miles, and the highest elevation gain is a gradual 200 foot trek on the Homestead Trail.  Red Top Mountain’s trails are tame enough for families and less-experienced hikers.

Trail runners will enjoy the escape from pavement without the heightened alert of roots that are typical on the trails. The paths are well groomed and wind enough to easily dodge problem spots. It’s easy to get in an 8-mile run with the combination of the Homestead Trail and Sweet Gum Trail.  

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

The easiest access to the park is off I-75 North. Brown state park signs will guide you from the interstate, and you’ll travel west. The main road from the exit turns into the park road, Red Top Mountain Road. Turn onto Park Marina Raod and opt to park at the Park Office lot on Lodge Road, because there is ample parking and it gives you direct access to the Homestead Trail, Sweet Gum Trail and White Tail Trail. 

The Iron Hill Trail is popular for mountain bikers. Follow Red Top Mountain Road southwest past the fork to Webster’s Ferry Landing Road. The trailhead has its own lot on the right side of the road. 

For boating, there are two boat ramps and two docks. Private boats are allowed and there is no horsepower limit. 

Location

Red Top Mountain State Park

50 Lodge Rd SE
Cartersville, GA, 30121
34.154609, -84.702991

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