The national parks located in the state of Georgia are very diverse and each one reflects the different region in which they’re located. North of Atlanta, visitors flock to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. With it’s beautiful mountaintop views, hiking trails and Civil War history, it’s a great destination for families. See why this suburban national park is a local treasure and the best things for kids to do when visiting.
Growing up in an Atlanta suburb meant that Kennesaw Mountain is a recreational destination – a place where you go to play outside and exercise. Many people don’t even realize that it’s a part of the U.S. National Parks system. It’s so much more than a place to walk the dog or catch a frisbee.
The history of Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield was a pivotal point in ending the Civil War. In 1864 Ulysses S. Grantees in command of the Federal armies and ordered coordinated offensive efforts to destroy Atlanta, known as The 1864 Atlanta Campaign. It was an important region to conquer because Atlanta harbored a vital Confederate railroad junction.
Today, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield is a place where visitors come to play outside, but blood was shed just over 150 years ago. You’d never know that this beautiful suburban park was where thousands lost their lives during a grueling 14-day battle.
If you’re visiting Kennesaw Mountain with kids, you can learn about the Civil War historical events or just enjoy the outdoor fun. It’s such a diverse destination that has a lot more than meets the eye.
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Junior Ranger Program At Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
The best way for kids to learn about the history of KMNBP is to participate in the Junior Ranger program. There’s a small family-friendly museum that’s located in the main visitor’s center of the park. So many visitors come to hike the mountain and don’t even realize that there’s a museum!
Stop by the visitors center to grab your Junior Ranger booklet. It’s a workbook designed for kids over the age of 8 that walks the kids through the museum and gives them an educational perspective. I love that the Junior Ranger program gives them a hands-on learning activity to complete while visiting the museum. The kids definitely absorb more information.
In exchange for completing the Junior Ranger workbook, kids earn an official “junior ranger badge” and a few fun prizes to commemorate their visit to Kennesaw Mountain. If your kids are under the age of 8, ask for the younger “Wee Ranger” version of the booklet they can complete!
Beginner Hiking For Families At Kennesaw Mountain
Families can climb to the top of the mountain to enjoy stunning summit views of downtown Atlanta. Kennesaw Mountain has over 25 miles of trails to explore and it’s an easy forested (slightly rocky) terrain. There’s a main road to the top, which is perfect for jogging strollers, that can be hiked. Or go off-road and enjoy the park’s maintained dirt trails. The trails weave through grassy meadows and forested areas as you near the peak.
Kids love to see the cannons, trenches and monuments that can be found in the park. Keep in mind the main visitor’s center parking is oftentimes full and you’ll have to park a half-mile away from the base of the mountain. Add that to distance to any of the hiking you’re planning to complete with kids.
Not into hiking? Take the shuttle! Call the park ahead of time to ask if the shuttle to the mountaintop is available. It leaves from the visitor’s center every half hour.
Best Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park Trails For Kids:
- Environmental Trail (1.35 Miles) – This flat trail explores the mountain’s lower elevations on a kid-friendly loop. Nine illustrated signs explain the surrounding forest ecosystem as the trail explores a rocky slope, trickling creek, and diverse forest.
- Kennesaw Mountain Trail (2.1 Miles) – This the park’s busiest hike and most populated. It climbs through sharp switchbacks to crest the mountain’s rocky, open summit. The mountain’s summit views are worth the effort, offering breathtaking views of the Atlanta skyline far on the horizon.
- 24 Gun Trail (3.5 Miles) – Hike or run this two-trail duo on the mountain’s lower elevations. The 24 Gun Trail treks through a rocky, rolling forest to a grassy meadow bordered by earthworks, the site of a Union encampment. Then loop the boulder-dotted Environmental Trail, exploring beautiful forest ecosystems.
Family Events At Kennesaw Mountain Park
Family-friendly programing is offered on peak season weekends. Infantry demonstrations, reenactments and guided hikes are just a few of the events offered for families at KMNBP. Check the event calendar on the website to schedule your visit during one of the offerings.
All of the programs are family-friendly and curriculum based. They appeal to a wide range of ages. The live history demonstrations are offered during the late spring through the fall. They include artillery, infantry and civilian programs. Additionally, there are historical presentations offered throughout the year.
Self-guided educational programs are available any time, Monday-Friday, following the local school calendar year. If you’re planning to visit the museum during the weekday, there’s a chance you may run into a school visiting for a field trip as well.
What To Bring When You Visit
Check the weather before visiting Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. Wear comfortable athletic or hiking shoes and be prepared for steep terrain. Jogging strollers are great for the main road to the top of the mountain, but they’re slightly more difficult to navigate on the dirt trails.
Bathrooms are located at the mountain base, in the visitor’s center, along with water fountains. However, I’d pack snacks and water to keep the family hydrated. Atlanta is very hot and humid during the summer months. Lastly, pack a disposable rain poncho just in case you get caught in an afternoon shower. The weather can change quickly in Atlanta.
If your kids are going to complete the Junior Ranger program, bring some pencils and pens for them to use. The visitors center has some, but they are typically just small “golf” pencils.
Whether you’re visiting the park for educational purposes or you’re just looking for some budget-friendly outdoor fun with the kids, Kennesaw Mountain is a great escape. It’s the perfect day trip from the downtown Atlanta area and a great destination to visit if you’re traveling from out of town.