Pine Mountain, GA

Which Pine Mountain Loop Trail Is Best? We Say East, and Here's Why


Cartersville's Pine Mountain is a popular hiking spot. A short drive up I-75 from Atlanta puts it in easy reach of almost all who live in ATL. And the panoramic view keeps hikers coming back for all seasons.
Two trails lead to the Archer Overlook at Cartersville's Pine Mountain. The West is most popular, but we say the east is best.Photo: Dean Land / Our Travel Cafe

But with two trails to the summit, which is the best? For us, it's the East Loop and here's why:

  • Diverse terrain. We find the "back side" of Pine Mountain to offer a more diverse hiking experience. More boulder fields offer some great views and an occasional glimpse of animals near their rocky dens. And while the west side is more of an up-and-down experience, the east includes more rolling terrain and varying elevation changes.
  • Fewer people. With a large parking lot convenient to I-75, the west side attracts larger crowds on virtually all days. Weekends often are extremely crowded in total numbers, with large groups, and with lots of pet lovers spending quality time outdoors with their furry friends. By contrast, largely because it's remote and away from I-75, we rarely cross paths with other hikers on the east trails. And when we do, it's one or two people and not a cruise-ship-sized excursion group.
  • The creek bottom section. A small creek runs between two mountain undulations on the east side, and, as a result, there's a rich diversity of plant life. Since the trail follows the creek bank closely, your much more up-close-and-personal with the water environment, meaning more flowers, mushrooms, small insects and such. It also means you're more likely to cross path with a snake on the east trail, and that may be a deal-breaker for some.
We label the sites visible on the 180+-degree view at Pine Mountain in our blog. Visit for the full picture of the stunning vista.Photo: DeanLand / Our Travel Cafe

Consider the Trade-Offs

Now, there are some tradeoffs that make the east less desirable. Among those are:

  • Limited parking. While the west parking is expansive, the remote easy lot is tiny. It may accommodate 10 vehicles at most. There is more parking nearby at the Cooper's Branch lakeside day use area. We often stop in there for a bathroom break before and after our east trail hikes.
  • Share with bikes. The east trail is open to mountain bikers on Wednesday and Saturdays. We've never encountered a mountain bike on our Wednesday hikes.

All Loops Lead to Summit

Both loops meet near the summit, where a single trail rises approximately 150 additional feet to reach the Archer Overlook. The rocky promontory offers a 180-degree view to the East, South and West. We've created a map and description of all the natural and man-made sights visible from this panoramic view.
Switch backs on the East Trail often make it seem you'll run into yourself.Photo: DeanLand / Our Travel Cafe

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I'm a trained journalist, global marketing executive and experienced business leader who has run successful enterprises spanning five continents while serving customers who are among the world's best and largest restaurants. I've left the corporate business world behind, now living in Northwest Georgia and writing about avocations including outdoor excursions, family-friendly travel, road trips, exploration ideas for active seniors and some of my community passions. I've traveled to 47 states and nearly as many countries, and I'm still counting up. I'm now a traveler, hiker, cyclist, blogger, marketing consultant, community volunteer and local high school band nerd who previously has lived in Florida, Ohio, Indiana and Mississippi. I'm a South Louisiana-born French Cajun whose great-grandparents were sugar farmers, bar owners and reputed bootleggers. My upbringing in food-rich Louisiana and my restaurant industry career affirmed my status as an over-qualified eater. That also inspired the name of my blog, There, I offer up a complete menu of our my own experiences, explorations and adventures, organized by geography and always sprinkled with some spicy, tasty tidbits and food notes.

Acworth, GA

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