“A great run with singletrack, rock gardens, and gravel roads.
— Daniel Jessee
Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Wildlife
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park is one of the premier training grounds for long-distance runners and hikers. Expect everything from steep, technical rock gardens on Kennesaw and Little Kennesaw Mountain, to loamy singletrack, to gravel roads and horse trails through historical battlefields. Also, you'll get one of the best views of the Atlanta skyline.
Need to Know
The route is marked with green arrows and mile markers. The mile markers are quite accurate. There is water at mile 3.5, 8, and you can easily alter to get water again around mile 13 by deviating a little. Be prepared for crowds going up Kennesaw Mountain. There is no fee for parking or using the trails.
The rock gardens on Little Kennesaw Mountain are no joke - watch your footing! There are some horse droppings on the trails. Be prepared for horses and yield if you see them, though sightings are very infrequent in my experience.
This direction gets the biggest climb out of the way early while your legs are fresh and there are fewer people on the trail.
From the visitor center, cross the summit road and follow the signs for Kennesaw Mountain. Avoid the Brumby Cutoff Trail and keep going up, up, up! The summit trail is quite varied, but quite wide. You'll gain about 800 feet in the first mile. At mile one, enjoy the vistas to the north and south as you summit big Kennesaw Mountain. Most crowds turn around here.
Continue across the top of the mountain and begin running through some easy rock gardens. Cross the summit road again. Cross over the rocky summit of Little Kennesaw Mountain and start into the real rock gardens. On the south side of Little Kennesaw, the trail is very rocky! It is VERY reminiscent of rocky sections of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. Several side trails will branch off to the left, but continue straight towards Pigeon Hill.
Cross Pigeon Hill's Grant Knob and begin a steep descent to Burnt Hickory Road. Cross Burnt Hickory Road (water fountain here) and continue straight on gravel roadbed. After about 3/4 of a mile, you'll turn right down a singletrack trail. Follow this trail all the way to Noses Creek. Depending on the water level, you may be able to cross the creek as soon as you hit it. Otherwise, follow the trail to the left along the creek and cross a bridge, then take an immediate right back along the creek.
Once across the creek, keep following the loamy singletrack to Dallas Highway. Cross Dallas Highway and follow the singletrack until it opens up into some fields. Turn right through the fields on horse track/road bed. This road bed will T into another road bed, turn left onto the gravel road. Follow this trail all the way until you see a side trail on the right leading to a visible parking area. There are usually portapotties at this trailhead.
In the parking area, turn left and run through the parking lot. On the SE end of the parking lot, a trail paralleling the road will lead you back to the main trail. Turn right on the main trail, passing through a gate. This trail leads to Kolb Farm. Keep following the green trail markers (there are no official side trails through here). At about mile 8 from the beginning, you'll parallel a paved road and there is a water fountain. After the water fountain, you'll cross a gravel road that leads to the horse stables. Continue on singletrack across the road. You'll cross a large paved road and return to singletrack on opposite side. Follow this singletrack through a field and back to the woods.
Shortly after returning to the woods, you'll turn left towards Cheatham Hill. Follow the green trail signs and singletrack towards Cheatham Hill. After you cross the two foot bridges, there will be some trails off to the right but stay straight, heading up a long gradual climb. After you crest that climb you'll come to an intersection. Turn right at intersection. This will take you back to the Cheatham Hill parking lot with one really steep climb leading to it. Cross the parking lot heading roughly north, and you'll see a trail entrance and some canons on the left.
Enter that trail and turn right/north. Follow that trail 1 mile back to Dallas Highway. Cross Dallas Highway at the same spot you did before then stay to the right and run down the gravel road descent to Noses Creek. Cross the creek and continue on a gravel road. Look for the first trail to the right after the creek (about 1/4 mile on right). Take this trail to a field and keep bearing right as a trail comes in from left.
Follow this trail up over another little hill and back to Burnt Hickory Road. Cross Burnt Hickory and follow signs directing you to the visitor center. You'll stay on this gravel road about 2 miles. You'll pass a circular field on the left but do not take the perimeter road - keep straight on the same road you're on. Shortly after this field, look for the left turn towards the visitor center. Take the trail to the right and
Flora & Fauna
Deer, birds of prey, ferns, hardwoods, pine forest, and grassy fields.
History & Background
This was the site of one of the final and biggest battles leading up to the Battle of Atlanta in the Civil War. Lots of historical markers with Union and Confederate troop lines marked along the trail. You'll see lots of earthworks and a few canons.