That was a pretty ferocious battle, although there were others during
the Civil War that had even more casualties than that. It's amazing how many
men (mostly) died during those four years
-- more than 600,000.
Sherman came to Atlanta with about 100,000 men, 254 guns, and 35,000
horses, according to the "history and culture"
page on the park website. Johnson's
Confederate army had only 63,000 men and 187 guns (no horses are
mentioned) but they had some advantage being on their own turf.
Trail through part of the
Cheatham Hill battleground at Kennesaw
In only a couple of weeks 67,000 men were killed, wounded, or captured
in the Atlanta Campaign.
Kennesaw, from a Cherokee Indian word meaning "cemetery" or
"battleground," is appropriately named.
MY PERSONAL HISTORY WITH THE PARK
This park covering almost 3,000 acres northwest of Atlanta was one of my favorite running
venues when I lived in the metro area back in the '70s, '80s, and 90's. The
varied network of trails is scenic, hilly, and generally has fewer rocks and roots
than Stone Mountain Park, the Appalachian Trail, and most of the other
trail running options I had
back then. I loved it.
However, I lived east of the metro area in Gwinnett and
Hall Counties during those years and it was a heck of a drive to get to Kennesaw
(about 40 miles one way), so I got
over there only about once a month to run with friends. I did most of my
training miles at Stone Mountain because it was more convenient.
Jim and Cody are dwarfed by the tall trees
on a trail at Kennesaw.
This week I was close enough to visit Kennesaw Park twice and show
some of my favorite trails to Jim. We hiked about three miles on Wednesday and
about four on Thursday. Jim's got a tough 50K race tomorrow so he was
taking it easy. After being at very flat Brazos Bend State Park near
Houston for four weeks we aren't very well hill-trained right now,
either. We needed a couple easy walking days.
In this entry I'll give you an introduction to this beautiful park and show
photos from our two hikes.
Click on this
link to see a map of the trails at
Kennesaw. Because it is so large I'll just show the two segments we
WELCOME TO KENNESAW MOUNTAIN
Kennesaw is primarily known as a national battlefield park. Run by
the National Park Service, it draws
close to two million visitors a year and is
located off Old US 41 west of Marietta, Georgia.
History abounds here,
with a large visitor center on Stilesboro Road and excellent signage,
impressive monuments, and cannon emplacements at the various Civil War
earthworks and battle sites throughout the park.
The main purpose of the park is to interpret this history and
preserve these sites. Recreation is secondary.
Above and below: some of
the Confederate earthworks at Cheatham Hill
This is a great place to wander around and soak in some history. It's a
beautiful wooded, hilly setting with some open meadows full of flowers
There are lots of indoor and outdoor activities from interpretive
films, living history demonstrations, bird and wildlife watching, and
picnicking to exploring some or all of the 18 miles of trails. You can
pick up a brochure at the visitor center for a self-guided tour of the
access a free audio tour online for your cell phone.
Jim and Cody walk between
monuments and interpretive signs
at Cheatham Hill, the main battle site at
Kennesaw Mountain is a haven for trail runners and hikers in the Atlanta
metro area. Many of the trails are wide, smooth dirt. Others are
narrow dirt single-track with some rocks and roots and steeper grades. Like
the rest of north Georgia, there are very few flat places in the park.
I have fond memories of dodging herds of deer on these trails early on weekend mornings,
doing mile-long hill repeats on the trail up to the top of Big Kennesaw
Mountain (a 708-foot elevation gain to 1,808 feet), trying to keep up
with ultra buddy Steve Michael on training runs, and participating in
Janice Anderson's first 50K "fat ass" run at the park with a few of our
I even had a small part in providing something every trail user in the
park can appreciate: an all-weather water fountain near
Kolb's Farm at the far southern end of the park. In the late '90s before
I moved to Montana, I was on the Board of Directors for the Atlanta
Track Club. I was happy to have the opportunity to vote that the club
donate the money for the fountain's construction. If I remember
correctly, it cost about $2,000 to construct (I could be wrong). I still
consider it a good use of the organization's funds and it's fun to run
by it and know I had an eensy, weensy part in its presence.
I have the same feeling of pride and "ownership" when I go past wooden
steps and a self-composting potty I helped construct on the Appalachian
Trail in Virginia, and other trails I've helped build or maintain.
Description of a decisive battle at Cheatham Hill
well-entrenched Confederate defenders held back the Union assault.
Eight miles of the trails at Kennesaw may be used by equestrians, plus some fire
roads. Mountain biking
isn't allowed on park trails; cyclists can ride only on the paved
Leashed dogs are permitted on the trails. There is no camping in the park.
Hunting wildlife -- and hunting Civil War relics -- are
prohibited. So are events like weddings and scattering someone's
ashes. The Park Service views such
activities as contrary to the purpose of the park, which is
primarily to interpret what happened here and preserve it for future
The easier trails and those near significant battle sites are rather
crowded on weekends. If you want a more peaceful walk, or more freedom to run
without dodging kids and dogs, go on a weekday or choose the more
On the other hand, since so many local runners and hikers head to the
park on the weekends it's a great place to socialize with friends.
We saw some other visitors on the trails this week but mostly had the
single-track trails in the middle of the park to ourselves, enough so to
leave Cody off his leash most of the time we were hiking. We didn't get
down as far as Kolb's Farm, so Jim has yet to see that fine water
More earthworks at Cheatham Hill
Entry to the park is free. So is parking. The only fee I know of is
$2 for the shuttle bus that takes visitors to the top of the mountain on
busy weekends and holidays. You can drive up the paved road on weekdays, ride
a bike up the road any day, or run/hike up various trails to the top
anytime the park is open. The paved road is narrow so pedestrians aren't
encouraged to use the trails to the summit.
There are several parking areas where visitors can access the trail
system in this somewhat-linear park. The two most popular trailheads for
runners are at Cheatham Hill off Dallas Hwy. and on Burnt Hickory Road
near Pigeon Hill.
Check out the park
website for maps and more historic,
cultural, and recreational information. We highly recommend you plan a
visit here if you're in the Atlanta metro area.
HIKE # 1: CHEATHAM HILL AREA
We made our first foray down to Kennesaw Mountain on Wednesday. Jim's
a Civil War history buff so I knew he'd like this park for more than its
After checking out the visitor center for the latest park information
and maps, we drove to the parking area at Cheatham Hill. This area of
the park saw the most battlefield action (and carnage) during the
Atlanta Campaign in the summer of 1864.
It is named after Confederate
Major General Frank Cheatham, whose Tennessee troops wreaked havoc on
the Union soldiers who charged their line on June 27, 1864. The site was
dubbed the "Dead Angle" because of the bend in the Confederate line:
We read the interpretive signs and viewed the impressive
Illinois Monument memorializing all the men from that state who
I especially wanted to show that monument to Jim, since he grew up in
Three handsome monuments in the park represent states from which
Union and Confederate soldiers came. The Georgia monument is located
near the visitor center; a monument honoring soldiers from Texas
stands below Dallas Hwy.
After our history refresher course we headed down the trail
toward Kolb's Farm, hiking out and back on the hilly course for
a total of about three miles. Here's the map section that shows
We parked where I added the blue dot, 2/3 mile south of Dallas
Hwy. Our track is the orange loop and out and back section.
Yellow is the park boundary. Number 16 is
the Illinois Monument.
We didn't get as far as the historic Kolb Farm, marked #20. Next
Above and below: wide, smooth, partly sandy
We were plenty warm in the sun with
temperatures in the upper 70s F. and could have used more
water. The deciduous trees are still pretty bare of leaves
(Atlanta had a very cold, snowy winter) so we didn't have much
shade that day.
HIKE #2: BURNT HICKORY - DALLAS HWY. LOOPS
The next day we drove back down to Kennesaw Mountain to do
another hike in a different section of the park. We walked about
four miles this time, on a hillier and more scenic route. It was
even warmer (80s F.) and we carried more water for Cody and
Here's the relevant section of the park trail map:
I put the blue dot where we parked at the trailhead on Burnt
Hickory Road. We followed the orange highlighting south to
Dallas Hwy. and looped back north on the more squiggly line on
This is actually two loops unless you ford Noses Creek (where
did that name come from??) about where the red #12 is
circled on the map. We decided to continue forward a couple
hundred yards to the main trail, cross the creek on a long
wooden bridge, then go down to the trail and follow it along the
creek on the other side.
I took this photo from the bridge; it shows the trail on
both sides of the creek:
The remaining photos are in chronological order as we went
clockwise around these loops.
The main trail on the east (right) side of the loops is wide and
heavily traveled. We went outbound that way from the trailhead:
That is one of the few flat spots to run or walk at Kennesaw.
The trail soon
dips down to a small creek . . .
. . .
back up another hill, then down to a long wooden bridge over
larger Noses Creek. That used to be a lot of
fun to run over!
Then there is a long hill going up to Dallas Hwy.
(are you getting the idea that Kennesaw Mtn. Park is hilly?) That's another good place at Kennesaw to do hill repeats. Here,
Jim and Cody are walking up that hill -- good training for Jim's
mountainous race tomorrow:
Just before reaching busy Dallas Hwy. we turned right onto a single-track trail
and headed back north.
We enjoyed that return on single-track better because it is more
remote and scenic, the kind of trail we like the most. We let Cody run off-leash and didn't see
anyone else on the trail -- typical on weekdays,
but not likely on weekends.
It was a constant roller-coaster for
2+ miles back to the truck:
After about a mile we came down to Noses Creek. Here, Jim
ponders whether to wade across to the other side:
Since we had errands to run we decided not to get our shoes wet.
We continued forward and crossed over the bridge on the main
trail, then went down to the trail on the other side of the creek:
We continued north on the second loop to our truck at Burnt
More hills . . .
More rocks and roots . . . this is our kind
Back on the main trail, heading to Burnt
OTHER ACTIVITIES WHILE IN THE AREA
Both of those days we ran errands in the Kennesaw-Marietta area,
then returned to the Navy Lake Site campground to relax the rest
of the day.
We've been fortunate to have warm, sunny weather since our
arrival in north Georgia. Temps reached into the 80s F.
yesterday and today, which is unseasonably warm for the area
this time of year. Jim may be better heat acclimated for the
race tomorrow than the locals, after some time in mostly-balmy
weather at Brazos Bend State Park south of Houston. He's not as
well trained for the hills, though.
Today we just stayed "home." We got our things ready for the
race tomorrow -- Jim to run, me to crew, take a
walk, hang out, and take care of Cody.
Jim also did a few small camper repairs and posted several comments
and replies on the Carriage, Inc. internet forum. That's been a
good resource for us when we have questions about, or problems
with, the Cameo and it's nice when we can provide answers for
other people's questions and concerns. As with the ultra
running list, we hope to meet some of the
people with whom we correspond on the Carriage RV list --
some day, somewhere.
We don't eat out at sit-down restaurants very often but we did
on two consecutive days this week. For my 61st birthday
on Wednesday we had lunch at a nice Thai restaurant, Thai Basil,
on US 41/Cobb Pkwy. in Acworth. (Thanks to all our friends and
relatives who sent b.d. greetings!)
Bev and Steve
Thursday evening we met our ultra running friend Steve Michael
and his wife Bev Oberer (above) at the tasty Gondolier Italian Restaurant
in Woodstock. It was great to see them again! We'll see Steve
again tomorrow at the race.
Next entry: the Sweetwater 50K trail race
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the Ultra Lab
© 2010 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil