Most mornings, I sleep through sunrise or experience it during my post-gym cool-down walk. But when I have an opportunity, I prefer an elevated location so I get the optimum view of the daily grandeur.
Outside the I-285 perimeter and northwest of Atlanta is Kennesaw Mountain, known as KeMo to many locals. With a prominence of approximately 1,000 feet over the surrounding area and multiple easy-to-moderate hiking options, KeMo is great as a dawn-watching location.
If you arrive 45 to 60 minutes before sunrise, you easily can experience the natural beauty of a daybreak at the summit. It’s magical to watch the twinkling transition of the surrounding metropolitan area’s awakening from street and building lights to the early hues of morning sunlight.
The Long and Winding Road
For a dawn hike, I recommend taking the automobile road that winds around the mountain 1.8 miles from parking lot to near the peak. Taking the paved road up virtually eliminates the chances of an encounter with any of the 6 species of poisonous snakes that inhabit Georgia and are present during spring and summer. I usually take one of the wooded trails down the mountainside when I can see anything that creeps, crawls, walks or slithers among the leaves, underbrush and wooded trail side.
KeMo is a wooded mountain, so there is no 360-degree view at the top. But there are excellent views of the Southern vista and Atlanta from near the automotive parking area, and also a bit further up the wooded trail at the actual peak.
At the peak, if you are looking at the informational sign facing Atlanta to your South, the sun will rise from your left, coming up from a lower point that makes it look like you’re higher than the sun. A view to the North overlooks the foothills of the Smokey Mountains to the Northeast. Remember, though, you’re in the South, and humidity often hangs in the air, generally creating hazy or foggy views which can limit visibility — and create some very interesting photography effects.
Just the Stats
You can find a full account of my sunrise hike at my blog, OurTravelCafe.com. I use a Garmin VivoActive HR to track my physical activities. I find this to be a fun walk, although I will admit to huffing, puffing and some periods of elevated heart rate when pushing up at a brisk pace. For my sunrise hike, I walked parking lot to peak at a brisk pace for an uphill trek, averaging 16:43 minutes-per-mile and reaching the peak in just under 30 minutes. while gaining 610 feet of elevation over the ~1.8 mile road walk.
Don't let the elevation scare you. We often take the full family and visitors for hikes to the summit. And, if you visit on a weekday, the summit road (usually) is open to drive up for a great view.
More from DeanLand
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