Those Who Wander Might Actually Be Lost

While on sabbatical between Feb – Aug ’22 I enjoyed my time hiking and casually job hunting. I credit this for how I landed at Zynga. Sometimes it takes a while to orient where you belong after facing hard decisions. Expect the unexpected this next year, good luck, and have fun.

I spent MOST of my time in public parks and trails over those 7 months because it was (A) healthy and (b) cheap (outside of being jobless at that time which was not cheap). The output of this reflective time let me pump out Medium posts and realize how much I still enjoyed writing about infrastructure. Getting time back and having full control over it accelerated my focus and ability to chunk out material. To learn. To research.

I posted pictures from these hikes on Twitter, but since Elon Musk…for lack of a better explanation, changed Twitter, and let go many of his infrastructure engineers like someone testing Murphy’s law but not in a good way, I am now posting them here.

I’ve been asked before “Where did you go?” I have good news for those in, or traveling to, Georgia – these are locations in and around Atlanta and certainly not my full collection of adventures in the state. I’ll list the top 7 places I frequent starting with my favorite so you can make your own quest list.

Vickery Trail

While the trail states it is 4.5 miles, you can actually park near the old mill ruins (worth it) and see one of the most gorgeous waterfalls without walking the full trail. This portion includes a wooden bridge over a profound creek view and multiple power wheelchair-accessible areas. The picture at the top of this post and many in the grid are from Vickery Trail. It is also OTP north (or for those not here, “outside the perimeter”) making it a short drive for locals. I found breathtaking black slate covered in orange leaves as soft water cascaded over the stones. Highly recommend. Update (9/10/2023): There are some (myself included) who have crossed a cliff to connect parts of the loop end to end. This is extremely dangerous and I’ve heard others have fallen and died – so ONLY follow the trails as indicated in All Trails or via signage.

East Palisades

The parking situation at East Palisades make it a park I’ve only been able to walk in a few times as the spaces are limited. It has one of the longest trails in Atlanta proper that culminates in a bamboo forest.

West Palisades

West Palisades has much more parking but a much shorter trail. I went here to ramp up on my hiking. My husband and I have also swam in the water. I question that choice after meeting a dad and son combo who frequent the place to search for unopened alcohol containers and dropped iPhones – many college students come there to party on floaties in the summer. It is; however, gorgeous and worth seeing.

Sope Creek Park – Paper Mill Ruins

Sope Creek Park – Paper Mill Trail

You may have heard that Atlanta’s burned down a few times. It’s true – in fact, the ruins here were burned by the Union during the Civil war. If you want to see some paper mill ruins right next to a gorgeous creek, Sope Creek trail has several mountain biking loops and tricky trails down to that creek.

Johnson Ferry Trail

One of my most frequented trails and part of the pictures at the end of this post, Johnson Ferry Trail offers 2 short trails, one along the Chattahoochie river and one along a connecting creek so you can get the best of both worlds. It is not wheelchair friendly, but there is a lot of parking.

Roswell Riverwalk Trail

The riverwalk is dog, bike, and wheelchair friendly. If simplicity and predictability with variety to walk along the river and marsh is ideal, this is a great 5-mile trail because it’s a boardwalk the entire way.

Dick’s Creek Falls

This waterfall is about 2 hours northeast of Marietta. The water is clear and the falls you can drive up to. If you ever drove in the smokies or Nanatahala and missed the “Lord of the Rings” vibe of Tennessee and North Carolina — this will get you back into that mindset. On the way back, it’s not hard to find hole-in-the-wall BBQ and of course, drop off at a Vineyard in that area to grab some Georgia wine.