We are all creatures of habit. We have our favorite trails where we log the majority of our miles. But Georgia is blessed with a wide variety of outdoor options, and there's no better time than fall to explore them. Here are 8 off-the-beaten-path trails that you may have never tried before—but are certainly worth your time to discover this fall.
1. Gold Branch Trail, Marietta
This hidden gem in the ’burbs of Atlanta is aptly named, as the colors of the leaves seem to paint the branches a shade of gold. The 3.5-mile loop trail hikes down into one of the Chattahoochee River valleys, where the trail meanders along Bull Sluice Lake, rising and falling as it winds away from the river. A beautiful juxtaposition to the golden leaves is the rusted antique car that you’ll find at the beginning of the trail.
GPS Coordinates: 33.984898, -84.387020
2. Elachee Nature Center, Gainesville
Elachee is a great place for hiking and is closer to the city, making for a faster way to get in a weekend hike without driving into the mountains. The trails are well-marked and well-maintained, and several trails offer views of creeks and lake swamps, with minimal elevation. Hike the Eastlake or Westlake loop trail around the lake for a solid 5-miler.
GPS Coordinates: 34.2460735, -83.8319709
3. Chicopee Woods, Gainesville
Also near Elachee, you’ll find solitude at Chicopee Woods . While the trails are geared towards mountain bikers, trail runners can also enjoy the technical terrain. Elachee hosts more than 18 miles of predominantly singletrack trails, but the most popular is the White Tail Trail . The 4.7-mile section is filled with winding ascents, twisting downhills, and a few bridge crossings. This trail connects to several of the other trails in Chicopee Woods.
GPS Coordinates: 34.248095, -83.835831
4. House of Dreams Trail, Barry College
The House of Dreams Trail is a true “ditch the city experience” for mountain biking, tucked into the gorgeous 27,000 acre Berry College campus, the world’s largest college campus. The 10-mile trail boasts spectacular mountain and ridgeline views along with some heart pumping climbing and technical, fast-paced downhill action. The best part is the ascent of Lavender Mountain. Towards the end of your climb you will pass through a large stone gateway and make your way to the beautiful Berry historic home and lookout tower. The 1,500 foot summit offers amazing views of Rock Mountain, Little Texas Valley, and portions of Big Texas Valley and Taylor’s Ridge.
GPS Coordinates: 34.290361, -85.189199
5. Marshall Forest Preserve, Rome
This protected land of the Marshall Forest Preserve was the first National Natural Landmark in Georgia. The Nature Conservancy works to protect the 301 acre pine hardwood forest—one of the last standing in the Eastern United States. Come here with a packed lunch and a lazy mindset, and meander through the trails, taking in the beauty of towering pines.
GPS Coordinates: 34.249538,-85.198562
6. Lake Winfield Scott, Suches
Lake Winfield Scott is a lovely little rec area just outside of Suches. Take the Appalachian Trail approach trail from Lake Winfield Scott for more serious hiking, where you’ll take a lesser traveled path to Blood Mountain via Jarrard Gap and Slaughter Gap. Hikers looking to do a one way and want to shuttle cars, use Lake Winfield Scott as a leg from Neels Gap, Woody Gap, or Dockery Lake.
GPS Coordinates: 34.74033, -83.892
7. The Front Gaps, Suches
Road cyclists know Highway 60 well—it’s the winding, mountainous road that leads from Dahlonega through Suches and North Georgia. The road is home to the popular fall Six Gap Century . Many Atlanta cyclists tackle the first three gaps—Neels Gap on US 129, Wolfpen Gap on SR 180 and Woody Gap on Highway 60. If you decide to take in the view via a car, be sure to pull off at the overlooks to see the valleys in peak fall color. At Woody Gap you can hike to Big Cedar Mountain and Preacher’s Rock, just a 4 mile hike over challenging elevation to sweeping vistas.
GPS Coordinates: 34.5571873,-83.967246
8. Holly Creek Preserve, Chatsworth
Hidden in the Cohuttas, Holly Creek Preserve is a property protected by The Nature Conservancy. The Tibbs Trail is a popular mountain bike and hiking trail passes through the 250-acre preserve as it continues to the summit of Green Mountain. The Preserve protects both Holly and Dill Creek, two of the tributaries that feed into the biologically diverse Conasauga River.
GPS Coordinates: 34.817961, -84.670603