Atlanta Day Trips: Escape to Cascade Springs Nature Preserve
Located in Southwest Atlanta, the 135-acre Cascade Springs Nature Preserve provides a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. While quaint shopping plazas and historic residential neighborhoods surround the preserve, the trails here lead you through a wild landscape with tumbling streams, a waterfall and peaceful woods with earthworks from Atlanta’s Civil War past.
Go on a Waterfall Hike
From the preserve parking lot, begin your walk on the 1.6-mile trail, following a boardwalk that skirts earthworks dug by Confederate troops. You’ll then encounter the old springhouse, a small stone structure covered in moss. Continuing on, you’ll meet Utoy Creek. Follow it south and then ascend through a boulder-strewn forest blanketed in ferns and ivy. Again, faintly visible Civil War earthworks are evident, and signs offer more information about the Battle of Utoy Creek.
After walking a little more than a mile, you hear the faint sound of falling water. Within a few minutes you’ll reach Cascade Springs, where water tumbles over three cascades and passes under a bridge. Departing this tranquil oasis, the trail continues along a boardwalk and skirts a creek, returning to the springhouse and the trailhead at the parking area.
Explore Atlanta’s Civil War Past
General William T. Sherman encountered violent opposition from Confederate forces as he prepared for what would become his historic “March to the Sea.” In 1864, at the Battle of Utoy Creek, well-entrenched Confederate soldiers inflicted heavy casualties on Union forces that were trying to reach a critical rail line.
As you walk the nature preserve, you can see the earthworks dug by Confederate troops and other historic remains, including a small quarry and a springhouse. People once believed that the water from the spring had healing properties, so it was bottled and sold for a period of time. In the 1970s, the preserve was created to protect one of Atlanta’s oldest forests and relics of the city’s historic past.
Cascade Springs Visitor Information
Pets and Trail Safety
Dogs are welcome on the trails and must be leashed at all times. Be careful while walking along the creek’s edge, because the rocks can be slippery. Also, be careful when navigating the area around the waterfall and creek, as slippery rocks and swift water can cause hikers to fall.
Best Time to Go
If you visit in the early morning, you’ll encounter fewer crowds, and temperatures will be milder during warm months. The park is open daily. However, the gate to the parking area closes Monday-Friday at 3 p.m. (7:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday).
Where to Park
The parking area is located at 2852 Cascade Road.
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