Civil War era cannon overlooks Kennesaw Mountain National Battle

Trail Running Kennesaw Mountain

Explore over 20 miles of trail in this historic Atlanta-area hotbed of hiking and trail running.

Kennesaw Mountain is best known for the history it preserves; the peak’s slopes and the surrounding area played host to a key battle in 1864, which led to the end of the Civil War. What’s lesser known is that the 2,965-acre National Battlefield Park also protects more than 20 miles of trails and carriage roads that are a hotbed of hiking and trail running. The park actually protects a small chain of mountains linked by a comprehensive trail system that was once the territorial land of the Cherokee people. Its tallest peak, the namesake 1,798-foot Kennesaw Mountain, rises several hundred feet directly from the valley floor. From the summit, you can see downtown Atlanta, 25 miles to the south, and on a clear day, Stone Mountain even farther south. 

The trails vary from steep, technical grinds up boulder-laden switchbacks to rolling cruises on old carriage trails past historic markers, so runners can pick and choose their difficulty. Regardless of where you run, you’ll pass the remnants of the Civil War battle that scarred the mountain, from long, deep trenches dug by soldiers on both sides to cannons standing atop peaks. Just don’t think you’ll have these trails to yourself; the park sits in the middle of Atlanta’s bustling suburbs, offering millions of residents access to the wild, historic landscape right in their backyard. Bonus: The National Battlefield Park and its trails are dog-friendly, so feel free to bring Fido for a run.  

Recommended Run 

You can run a hard, 5.2-mile loop (starting at the visitor’s center) that climbs the mountain on Kennesaw Mountain Trail. It delivers peak views of the Atlanta skyline, then traverses the rocky ridgeline south to Little Kennesaw Mountain, where large boulders offer an opportunity to climb and hop from granite slab to granite slab. After peaking out on Little Kennesaw, take the Little Kennesaw Cutoff Trail to Camp Brumby Trail, which meanders back south over easier terrain, passing by an old Civilian Conservation Corps camp before delivering you back to the visitor’s center. 

If you’re looking for an easier run, the trail system on the south side of Burnt Hickory Road has less climbing and fewer technical challenges. You can run a 2-mile lollipop loop using the Noses Creek Trail and North Hardage Mill Trail, with options to add on extra miles if you’re feeling good. 

More Info

Visit the park’s website for trail maps and rules and regulations:

Getting There 

Kennesaw National Battlefield Park is roughly 24 miles north of downtown Atlanta. The visitor’s center is at 900 Kennesaw Mountain Drive, Kennesaw, GA 30152. 

Where To Refuel

After your run, head into downtown Marietta, where the historic square is bustling with new breweries and restaurants. Red Hare Brewing and Distilling has a Cuban menu (yucca fries!) and a full rotation of beers on tap, including the summer-friendly Grapefruit SPF, a radler that combines an IPA with sparkling grapefruit juice. 

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.