Civil War cannon on the way up to the summit of Kennesaw Mountain

Kennesaw Mountain | 52 Hike Challenge | Hike 2

  • Imagining soldiers charging up this mountain
    Imagining soldiers charging up this mountain
  • FIRE! on the mountain
    FIRE! on the mountain
  • The verdict is in on this December Cairn Box treat - DELICIOUS!
    The verdict is in on this December Cairn Box treat - DELICIOUS!
  • Thanks to the NPS for preserving our history - Civil War cannons along the trail
    Thanks to the NPS for preserving our history - Civil War cannons along the trail
  • Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance
    Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance
  • Kennesaw Mountain
    Kennesaw Mountain
  • Imagining soldiers charging up this mountain
    Imagining soldiers charging up this mountain
  • Peace and quiet on the Kennesaw Mountain Trail
    Peace and quiet on the Kennesaw Mountain Trail
  • Summit selfie!
    Summit selfie!
  • Confederate graffiti in the rocks at the summit
    Confederate graffiti in the rocks at the summit
  • Atlanta, Marietta and Stone Mountain from the summit
    Atlanta, Marietta and Stone Mountain from the summit
  • Civil War cannon on the way up to the summit of Kennesaw Mountain
    Civil War cannon on the way up to the summit of Kennesaw Mountain
  • Atlanta, Marietta and Stone Mountain from the summit
    Atlanta, Marietta and Stone Mountain from the summit

 

Before leaving town for a few months I was lucky to join a ranger-led hike at Kennesaw Mountain for Hike 2 of my 2017 52 Hike Challenge. Ranger hikes are the best. Not only do you usually get a great hike, but you also learn so much along the way that you’d never know without the wisdom of the ranger.

Kennesaw Mountain

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park is pretty much what it sounds like…a mountain on which a battle took place. Namely, a battle that was part of the Atlanta Campaign, a push that Union commanders hoped would end the US Civil War. By joining the ranger hike I learned all about the battle that took place here on the way up to the top of the mountain. The Kennesaw area also played an important role in Cherokee and settler history before the Civil War as well.

The Hike

While Kennesaw is a “mountain”, in only one mile you can summit the mountain with under 600 feet of elevation gain. However, after not hiking for WEEKS over the holidays this was a challenge! The trail starts just behind the visitor’s center and quickly gains elevation. As you climb, you can see the rifle pits and earthworks soldiers used as a form of trench warfare.

The trail flattens out along a section of road used by the Cherokee and settlers. Later, soldiers used the road to move cannons up the mountain.

After a nice, flat break, the trail continues upward with views of Atlanta along the way. The incline covers much rockier ground. Soldiers were no longer able to wheel cannons along the rockier road. Instead, they had to carry the 1000+ pound weapons up the mountain by hand.

The reward at the summit is a wide open view of Atlanta and Stone Mountain. My favorite surprise at the top was Confederate graffiti carved into rocks. Most of the graffiti has been worn away by weather and visitors, but a few markings remain.

This is an out and back hike, so after spending some time at the summit I made my way back down the mountain. The ranger was only with us one-way, so the hike down was at my own pace. I really enjoyed this time alone on the mountain. While there were quite a few visitors in the park, the trail winds down the mountain in a way that I was occasionally alone. I love hiking with groups, but I also enjoy the quiet and solitude found in nature, and this hike provided the perfect mix.

The Lessons

This hike was a bit of a mental health outing after the 2017 inauguration and subsequent immigration and travel ban. I was feeling really stressed out and thought a day out would really help with self care. Nature sure doesn’t care what religion you practice, what color your skin is or where you were born. As I hiked, I passed people of SO MANY different ethnicities, ages, fitness levels, etc. It was so encouraging to see such diversity in the outdoors. When we’re on that mountain, we’re all facing the same challenges, and moving ahead the same way – one step at a time.

The Fire

In an ironic twist, my calming mental health day ended with a bit of chaos. I had just come off of the mountain, thought I’d take a quick bathroom break at the visitor’s center and then hop on the nature trail. While in the bathroom, a park employee ran into the bathroom and explained that we needed to leave immediately. The park was closing, including all trails and buildings, as there was a fire! The irony of a NPS site on fire after the week we had was such a metaphor!

As far as I know, the fire started as I exited my first trail, not affecting my hike. The park is still investigating the cause of the fire, and unfortunately it seems as if it was human-caused. Luckily all trails are now open and it seems like damage was minimal.

Since I’m doing the Explorer Series of this year’s 52 Hike Challenge I don’t plan to revisit this specific hike any time soon, but may do as part of a longer hike later this year, as Kennesaw Mountain has many trails to explore!

Have you ever hiked Kennesaw Mountain or another Civil War battlefield? Tell me about it in the comments!

Cochran Shoals - Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

Cochran Shoals – CRNRA | 52 Hike Challenge – Hike 1

A New Challenge…

Back on the 52 Hike Challenge bandwagon! Today marked Hike #1 of my 2017 52 Hike Challenge, and I’m embarking on the Explorer Series this year! Today’s hike was a great way to start. I headed out to Cochran Shoals in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. Since there are a ton of trails out here, this location may come in handy when I’m trying to add new trails throughout the year.

The Trail…

Since the Cochran Shoals area was to me, I stayed on the large, main hike/bike trail to get a feel for this park. It was pretty busy for my taste, even on a weekday afternoon, so I’ll definitely be checking out some of the more off the beaten path hiker only trails next time I’m in the area.

However, one perk to being on a busy trail is the interactions you might have, like I did today. A man on his bike passed me along the trail, then stopped shortly after at a culvert. As I approached, he asked if I had seen the snake. Uh, what? I certainly had not seen a snake, so he pointed it out. It took me an embarrassingly long time to find it, and I almost gave up. Consequently, my new biker friend had to get off of his bike to help me.

I finally found the silly thing and it was such a neat experience! I’ve rarely seen snakes in the wild, and I think they are such interesting creatures. Apparently this culvert is the main snake hangout in this area. My new trail friend informed me that sometimes in the summer there will be a dozen or so in this area. He also mentioned he’s careful who he tells about the snakes because so many people’s first instinct is to kill the snake! I was shocked and can honestly say that thought didn’t even cross my mind. That snake isn’t bothering anything – I couldn’t even see it – WHY would I KILL it?! Anyway, I’m pretty sure my Osprey backpack and hiking boots gave me away as “safe”, since most people on this trail were recreational walkers/runners with nothing on them but car keys and a cell phone.

We ended up chatting for almost half an hour before parting ways, and it was such an enjoyable experience. Glad it happened in order to not totally turn me off to hiking around other people.

Other Wildlife Encounters…

After this lovely chat, I stopped along the river to watch the water fall over the shoals for a bit and check out the geese whose chattering was impossible to miss.

At last I found myself alone on the trail, which was for only about two minutes. As a bonus to this alone time I had a pretty up close encounter with a couple duck pairs. Unfortunately a noisy group of runners quickly approached, scaring the ducks back into the marshy brush, but I was happy for the few moments I had alone with nature.

A 75 degree January day was not a terrible way to start this year’s challenge (much as I really wish I was hiking in snow!). My 2016 challenge was a huge accomplishment and truly life altering, and I’m excited to see what 2017 has in store.

Will you be joining me this year? Subscribe and leave me a comment below about your hiking goals for this year!