November 30, 2006
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield
Looking North from near the top of Kennesaw Mountain
On Thanksgiving Day, instead of sitting around watching football, I decided to take my daughter and two of her cousins for a short hike. Since we were in Marietta, Georgia, I decided to take them to the closest National Park - Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield.
The park itself is an island in a sea of sprawl. New housing developments are popping up all around - like mushrooms after a spring rain. This development places tremendous stress on the park in the form of added visitation, and degredation of park resources.
Thankfully, the trails inside the National Park are maintained beautifully by a local volunteer group. The Kennesaw Mountain Trail Club is a member of the Southeastern Foot Trails Coalition, and they have done some fantastic work relocating old eroded trails, and working regularly to ensure that park visitors can have a pleasant experience on the trail network. The club is always looking for volunteers, so if interested in participating in a half day of trail maintenance or helping to eradicate invasive species, please send them an email.
We drove over to the park, only to find that the parking lot was closed, so we parked on the street with the rest of the visitors, and walked into the park. We chose to hike a short one-mile trail from the Visitors Center up to the summit of Kennesaw Mountain.
Since the park is located close to Metro Atlanta, it receives a tremendous number of visitors. More than 1.2 million visitors are estimated to visit the park each year! The primary purpose of this National Park is to protect and interpret the Civil War history of the area. According to the National Park Service, “over 5,350 soldiers were killed in the battle fought here from June 19, 1864 through July 2, 1864."
As we climbed Kennesaw Mountain, evidence of the hostilities could be found in the form of earthworks (fortifications), and old cannons. We stopped occasionally at the benches that lined the trail, and took in the views which included downtown Atlanta to the south, and Stone Mountain off to the east. One of the most heartening aspects of our visit, was the fact that so many families were out enjoying the day. Unlike many backcountry trails where diversity is sorely lacking, the visitors to the park actually looked like a microcosm of America.
I'll end this entry with a few photos taken during our short visit. We'll be back to explore more of the park. I hope you'll take the opportunity to do the same.
Cannon and earthworks near summit of Kennesaw Mountain
Stone Mountain off in the distance
Post-war carving atop Kennesaw Mountain. According to Park Historian Willie Johnson, the carving predates the establishment of the park. Today this would be considered vandalism.
Great Places to Hike | By Jeffrey Hunter | 12:31 PM