Welcome to my corner of North Georgia. I document my adventures and outdoor activities in hopes of inspiring others to make the most of each day. It is my goal to make hiking accessible and non-intimidating, while promoting responsible enjoyment of the environment. No trail is too short!
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May had me in several different places, among them being Cartersville. Although I lived in neighboring Cherokee County, obviously, I never spent much time in Cartersville. I've never even been to the Etowah Indian Mounds or the science museum! We did camp at Red Top Mountain State Park once but the weather was bad so we didn't really leave our campsite very much. Although the weather was dicey during my recent stay in Cartersville, I decided to venture out as much as I could after work.
Cartersville is an industrial town and this is evident in nearby recreation areas. Allatoona Lake is yet another man-made lake with a sunken town beneath it and the views from nearby mountains contain lots of factories and smoke stacks. A lot of the recreation areas pretty much border neighboring factories. After doing some research online, I decided to visit Cooper's Furnace on my first day after work.
As the name indicates, there is a very large, ominous looking brick furnace right of the parking lot. The trail begins near the furnace. The Cooper's Furnace trail is fairly easy with only a few inclines. Some of it goes along a gravel service road. Points of interest include a small creek, a beaver pond (I saw a large turtle but no beavers) and some wooden viewing platforms. I imagine in winter the views might be pretty nice, but the trees have completely leafed out at this point and there was not much to see from the platforms at this time. There is also mountain laurel along the whole trail and it is my favorite woodland plant, so I enjoyed seeing so much of it.
After finishing the trail, I snuck a peak at Allatoona Dam. I don't know if you are supposed to get as close as I did but there are no signs saying not to and I didn't go behind the fencing. The Etowah River is not very scenic at this point and honestly, smelled terrible. It just has a very industrial feel to it and I cannot imagine swimming in it. Overall, I would say Cooper's Furnace is nothing to write home about but since the trail is relatively short it is a good option for a quick walk. Here is the ViewRanger link for Cooper's Furnace.
Later in the week, upon the recommendation from someone I met at work, I decided to go to Pine Mountain. I've seen a lot of pictures of it on social media and it seems to be a pretty popular place. I started at the Western parking area and followed the West loop to the overlook and then back down, taking a clockwise approach. There is an "Eastern pass" as well, which connects to another loop. There is also a trail connecting to the Cooper's Furnace recreation area. I believe if you hiked both loops of the Pine Mountain trail and the connector trail to Cooper's Furnace it would be around 9 miles total.
I have to say, the Pine Mountain trail was one of the most clearly marked, well-maintained trails I have ever been on. It was also very clean despite its popularity. The only issue I saw was some trail degradation due to people cutting off the switchbacks (they are there for a reason, folks!). But overall, it was just a really nice trail. There were also some really interesting trees along the way, in addition to a intriguing pile of rocks (not sure what this was but I stopped to take a picture).
The climb to the David Archer overlook is a consistent, steady ascent and makes for a great work out. There are plenty of large rocks to climb/sit on at the summit of Pine Mountain, as well as a few trees to hang hammocks from. It's a larger, flatter summit and not as precarious as some other places I've been recently. The view offers a glimpse of Allatoona Lake, some neighboring mountains, and unfortunately, a very large coal-fired power plant. A lot of reviews online describe it as "breath taking" which I don't necessarily agree with (I am spoiled with the views from mountains further north) but it really was a nice hike.
I debated visiting the Pine Log quarry area but felt it was too far away to drive, especially given I was trying to hike in between rain storms. I also looked into the Vineyard Mountain trails but there is a fee to park there and I didn't feel like going to get cash. Pine Mountain is a great option because it is free, well maintained, and provides a great workout. Here is the ViewRanger link for Pine Mountain. I never really gave Cartersville a second glance when I lived nearby, but just a few days here has shown me there are lots of options for recreation and history.