Drive to Trailhead & Trail Guide - Vineyard Mountain

Caution: Use bug dope. I got bug bites that took over 6 weeks to heal from my ankle to my knee while wearing hiking boots, over-the-calf socks, and long pants. My son also got similar bites (while not as thoroughly clothed). (Summer 2013)

Drive Guide

  • Duration: 0:45
  • Google Maps URL from Atlanta (33.917, -84.3378):
    • To the easy, seasonal trailhead:
    • To the difficult, year-round trailhead at 34.14386, -84.73565:
  • Seasonal/Limited Access:
    • The easy, sensible trailhead is in the Riverside Day Use Area, near Alatoona Dam. I don’t know the season, but it was closed on December 2, 2012. I found an alternate route. It didn’t take me past any “No Trespassing” or “Area Closed” signs, but it is definitely not a documented trail.
  • Directions:
    • Easy trailhead:
      • Note: There is no “almost there” parking. If the road is closed, you’d have to walk past a manned guard house (which is there to permit trucks to service the dam).
      • I-285 West
      • I-75 North
      • Exit 285 for Red Top Mountain Rd. Turn Left. Go 0.5.
      • Turn right to stay on Red Top Mountain Rd. Go 0.1.
      • Turn right on US-41 at the T. Go 1.1.
      • Turn right on Alatoona Dam Rd. Go 1.4 and park in the lot.
    • Tough trailhead:
      • I-285 West
      • I-75 North
      • Exit 285 for Red Top Mountain Rd. Turn Right.
      • Park at the gate, across the road from the gas station’s driveway.
  • Food
    • Last McDonalds:
    • Penultimate McDonalds:
    • Dinner

Trail Guide (Easy Route - a.k.a. “Eagle Scout Trails”)

  • Duration: 0:40
  • Navigation
    • Well-marked trailhead. There’s a side road to a picnic shelter at 34.16184, -84.73504. The trailhead is about 10 yards closer to the dam than this road.
    • Follow the well-marked, yellow-blazed trial until it intersects the blue-blazed trail and the red-blazed trail at a small bench.
    • Follow the red-blazed trail up.
    • When you arrive at the cell tower, you’re on top.

Trail Guide (Hard Route)

  • Duration: 1:20
  • Navigation
    • Park at the gate. Facing the gate from Red Top Mountain Road, you’re going to take the old pavement heading to your left.
    • Follow the old pavement to the gravel lot.
    • Exit the gravel lot on the north, following the narrow, abandoned dirt road.
    • After a bit, the road crosses a dry creek bed.
    • A bit more, and the road crosses a wet creek. Slippery rocks!
    • A bit more, and you’ll pass a small site with a small diesel generator, and you’ll start following power lines.
    • Then you come to the paved road with picnic “Shelter B” and restrooms that are shown on the Alatoona Lake Trail Guide, south of Alatoona Dam Road, just below the dam.
    • When you arrive at Alatoona Dam Road, turn right, and you’re at the trailhead for the Eagle Scout Trails.
    • From here, follow the Eagle Scout Trails (the ‘Easy Route’ instructions).

Trail Guide (My Route Out - All Season. Risk of getting hassled.)

I’ll describe my route out. You could follow it in the opposite direction to get in. It goes through a gated, not-yet-built subdivision. I carefully avoided “No Trespassing” signs.

  • Take the gravel road leading south from the cell tower.
  • You’ll come to a paved road.
  • This looks like a subdivision, about to happen. There are lots of signs that say “Lot xx” and “Sold,” and there are utility boxes, water hydrants, and sewer lines, but no houses - yet.
  • Up the paved road to your right, there’s a gated gravel road to a water tower. I think you could walk up this road to the water tower, and then walk from the water tower to the cell tower, but I didn’t try it. I definitely did see the water tower from the cell tower, and it has a clearing around it (as shown on Google Maps).
  • Turn left onto the paved road.
  • After a bit, you come to a gate, and a fancy house on your left, and a dirt road on your right.
  • Take the dirt road on your right.
  • After a bit, the dirt road forks, with a Private Property No Tresspassing sign to the right, so take the left fork.
  • Follow this dirt road for a bit. After awhile, it sorta fades into nothing, right about the point where the topo shows a dirt road intersection. I think that what happened here is that there was a clearing at the intersection, and it filled with pine saplings. I know that the road disappears at the thicket of pine saplings.
  • Skirt the pine thicket around its left side, generally heading south, to southwest. You’ll see the road again on your right, once you’re past the short pines. Briefly. Then it fades again.
  • Continue heading south, staying in the clearest areas, out from under most of the trees.
  • You’ll come to Red Top Mountain Road, and you’ll be near the opposite end of the old pavement that you took when you started your hike.

  • Trailhead altitude: 713’ Scout Trail trailhead @ 34.16193, -84.73458
    • 717’ at “long route” trailhead @ 34.14392, -84.73577
  • Summit altitude: 1354’
  • GPS tracks/waypoints:

  • Red Top Mountain Rd trailhead = 34.14392, -84.73577
  • Eagle Scout Trailhead = 34.16193, 84.73458
  • Wet creek crossing = 34.15521, 84.73730
  • Junction of Yellow, Blue, Red blazed trails = 34.16056, 84.73130
  • Summit = 34.15900, -84.72860
  • Gravel road from cell tower meets paved subdivision road = 34.15783, -84.72771
  • Leave subdivision road for dirt road = 34.15469, -84.73147
  • Fork in dirt road. (Go left) = 34.15477, -84.73444
  • Lost the trail in the pine thicket = 34.14854, -84.73567
  • Found the trail/road = 34.14637, -84.73526
  • Trail indistinct. Just head southish = 34.14497, -84.73545
  • 90 degree right turn, to re-join old pavement = 34.14424, -84.73507

Summit Guide

  • Hang antenna from tree: Yes
  • Space to guy mast: Yes
  • Cell coverage: Good
  • Unique features:
    • Cell tower

Plan-B Candidates

  • Pine Mountain
  • Kennesaw Mountain