Explore a forest inside Atlanta’s city limits! Cascade Springs Nature Preserve is a beautiful oasis just inside the Perimeter in a southwest Atlanta neighborhood. Hike to the nature preserve’s crown jewel: a cascading waterfall.
About Cascade Springs Nature Preserve
Cascade Springs Nature Preserve is one of the oldest forests inside the Atlanta city limits. This 120-acre park has trails, picnic tables, an outdoor classroom, a waterfall, a spring house, and Civil War-era trenches along Utoy Creek.
The park is free to all and open year-round. It’s also a great pet-friendly place to walk your dog.
Hiking Cascade Springs Nature Preserve
The nature preserve is made up of several trails that interloop with each other.
For our hike, we decided to hike the entire outer perimeter loop of the park. This makes sure you hit all the main sites, including Cascade Springs Falls, the Spring Pump House, the Granite Boulders, Utoy Creek, and the Frog Pond.
The hike departs on the Trailhead Junction from the parking lot, crossing over a boardwalk and around Civil War trenches.
Spring Pump House
The trail reaches the Spring Pump House at the end of the Trailhead Junction. A boardwalk leads right up to the house.
This moss-covered stone building looks like something out of a fairytale. A spring trickles out the bottom.
From here, you can follow the trail either to the right to Utoy Creek or to the left to Cascade Springs Falls
We decided to head to the left to see the waterfall first.
Cascade Springs Falls
This portion of the hike follows along the Spring Trail. It’s a short hike before you reach Cascade Springs Falls.
The waterfall flows beneath an ivy-covered bridge. You can often find people sitting and playing by the falls.
The trail continues through the forest, keeping to the left at intersections to stay on the perimeter of the Ridge Trail. At times, you may lose sight of the path for downed trees. Here’s one instance where two giant trees covered the correct path:
The path seemed to continue to the right of the trees, worn down where others had been confused like us, but it quickly became clear that it wasn’t a proper path. So we turned back and found the correct path past the trees (where Kevin is standing in the photo).
The junction to find the Granite Boulders is almost a hidden spot halfway through the hike, at about 1 mile.
Here’s Kevin showing the correct way again:
The trail appears to be worn to the left, and up until now we’ve been taking the left turns to stay on the perimeter. But here, if you go left, you’ll pass a couple boulders and then dead-end at the preserve’s boundary fence.
The trail marker tells you to continue to the right instead.
But straight ahead, where Kevin is standing, is a less-worn path that leads to the Granite Boulders. The path weaves through the boulders, goes down an incline, and then back up to meet the original trail at the next marker.
Keep to the left at the next intersection to follow the trail down an incline to Utoy Creek.
At the bottom, take the trail to the right to continue on the Utoy Creek Trail (going left will take you out of the nature preserve’s boundary). This follows along South Utoy Creek.
In 1864, this was the site of the Battle of Utoy Creek, part of General Sherman’s Atlanta campaign.
The trail runs north along the high banks of the creek. Keep to the left to stay on the perimeter of the trail.
Soon, you’ll come across the outdoor classroom. The trail then meets the paved trail at the Frog Pond and picnic area.
Follow this back to the Spring Pump House to complete the loop. Then follow the Trailhead Junction back to the parking lot to complete the hike.
Nearby Hiking Trails
Looking for more hiking trails in Atlanta? Check out more of these amazing Georgia hikes:
- Atlanta Beltline Eastside Trail
- Sweetwater Creek Yellow and Orange Trails
- Sweetwater Creek Red and White Trails
Ready to visit Atlanta, Georgia? Plan your trip with these tips.
- Get Familiar With the City: Check out my Ultimate Guide to Atlanta to help plan your trip!
- Book Your Flight: Find the cheapest flights using Skyscanner, my favorite flight search engine.
- Find Accommodation: You can find top hotels in Atlanta using Booking.com.
- Save on Attractions: Save 44% on admission to Atlanta’s top attractions using the Atlanta CityPASS.
Have you hiked the trails at Cascade Springs Nature Preserve? Let me know in the comments!