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Duluth Massage

Iron Mine Loop Trail
Georgia Trails

Trail Length: 3.8 miles Type of trail: Loop
County: Bartow County, GA Our rating: E
Features: picnicking, lake, family Your rating:
Usage: Light Added on: June 25, 2011
Last hiked: May 05, 2011 Updated on: September 25, 2011
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Additional Trails
Hiking trails in Bartow County, GA

Directions to Iron Mine Loop Trail

This wide, level trail explores 2 historic iron mines and joins Allatoona Lake for a lakeshore hike before returning to the parking lot in Red Top Mountain State Park. As the hike returns to the parking area it crosses three wooden bridges designed to protect sensitive wetlands.

Iron in the earth turns it red
The trailhead is on the western side (far end) of the parking area, and the Iron Mine Loop is almost always a gravel road. Watch the signs carefully because it might be easy to get confused when the multi-use trail crosses an access road used by the park rangers. From the trailhead the path drops quickly to the roadbed. We choose to hike the trail clockwise, although it is possible to hike it in either direction.

Georgia's Antebellum Iron Industry was concentrated in Bartow County along Stamp Creek and the Etowah River, which forms Lake Allatoona. The hills along what is known today as the Cartersville Fault were rich with the most common element in the earth - iron. In the 1800's iron was used throughout the home and farm, from the plowshare in the field to the stove in the home. Pig iron would be produced in quantity, then shipped to local manufacturers. For local use the furnaces would remove the impurities and make cast iron.

Among the first ironmasters in the area were Moses and Jacob Stroup, who ran iron furnaces in Habersham County, Bartow County and further west in Alabama. In 1843 Mark Cooper bought the Stroups mill on Stamp Creek, but wanted to build a new one near the Western and Atlantic Railroad. In 1847 Cooper built an ironworks on the Etowah not far from Red Top Mountain State Park that is now preserved as the Cooper Furnace Day Use Area. Iron from the Cartersville fault would be mined from the 1830's until 1905 for these furnaces.

Iron Mine Loop Trail is a single-line dirt road (double track for the mountain bikers). At 0.3 miles the path crosses another road at a diagonal at an old well(?). Although it is obvious which road to take, always check for the sign (an arrow) indication the direction. Walking through a majority hardwood forest comprised of oak, maple, hickory, and occasional long-leaf pines watch for abundant ferns in the undergrowth indicating normally moist soil. The road curves right and then passes through three unusual cuts. After the third cut at 0.5 miles watch for a knee-high wooden sign with the number 4 on it. Make a hard right turn and enter a historic open pit (or surface) mine.

This is one of the earliest examples of a surface mine in Georgia. The sides of the mine, 60 feet tall in some places, are now overgrown with flora. In the center of the mine the trail is surprisingly level. Most iron is extracted from open-pit mining (not to be confused with strip mining) like this. Return to the main trail after exploring the rest of the surface mine and turn right.

As the trail curves right it joins Allatoona Lake, built and managed by the Corps of Engineers. Over the next two miles the path runs near the lake, only occasionally moving inland to cross a small creek. Shortly after the treadway begins to parallel the lake watch for another knee-high pole on the right-hand side with a 6 on top. This is a more modern and smaller surface mine for iron ore. Ore was probably taken from here as late as the early 20th century.

As the trail leaves Lake Allatoona it moves through a camping/picnic area and there are bathrooms near the trail. After the picnic tables the treadway begins an easy climb, crossing three bridges before returning to the starting point.


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Iron Mine Loop Trail
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Article Links
Bartow County
Georgia's Antebellum Iron Industry
Habersham County
Red Top Mountain State Park
Western and Atlantic Railroad

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