Some of the best urban hikes in Atlanta are hidden treasures that locals hope you don’t discover. Lullwater Park near Emory University is one of those elusive finds, a secret 154-acre oasis nestled between bustling buildings and parking decks of the Emory campus, boasting beautiful trees, acres of green space, and a lake.
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It’s also a haven for kids with a 210 ft long suspension bridge, mini water falls to behold, and much to explore. But there is a reason this lovely park is undiscovered. Don’t worry, we’ll tell you how to get you in.
Those in the know about this park will tell you that it is lovely, but parking is cruel, and that’s why it remains such a hidden gem. Recently I went there, and learned this the hard way. However, after 45 minutes of wandering around, I found a solution! Shhhh. Don’t tell your friends.
Parking at Lullwater Park
The main entrance for the park is located at 1463 Clifton Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30329. Don’t go into the main entrance! Here are two other options.
Hahn Woods Entrance. Head to the side of the main entrance on Houston Mill Road to find Hahn Woods Park. There is a small parking area here. Then, take the trail under the road toward Lullwater Preserve.
You will hike a trail along the Yerkes fence line for about 10 minutes or so. This trail will lead you right to the suspension bridge. You can cross the suspension bridge to hike the forest loop, or to visit the tower next to the waterfall.
Only a few hundred yards from the bridge you find to the mill ruins on the far side of the creek, the “waterfall” and a sand play area … all nestled below and behind the Lullwater house!
VA Medical Center Entrance. Another parking option is the deck of the VA Medical Center on Clairmont Road. I thought for sure Google had sent me to the wrong spot, but indeed, there was an entrance to the trail just a few yards from the ruins to the left and the suspension bridge to the right.
Please let me know how this secret works for you! I can’t wait to go back!
Hiking Lullwater Park Trails
Both of the entrances above lead to dirt trails. However, they link up to the a wide paved trail that circles beautiful Candler Lake. It’s an easy place to push a stroller, or ride a bike or go fo a run (Here’s more info on that in this post from our friends at Atlanta Trails.). It’s pretty flat too, a nice option for young, inexperienced bike riders.
Lullwater Park History
As I walked through the pathways, I was curious about the history of the area. It was once part of the Muskogee Indian Nation. In the early 1800’s, the Native Americans were moved to Oklahoma and the government took charge. In 1925 Walter Turner Candler, son of Asa Candler, of Coca-Cola fame purchased the land, leaving much of it natural and turned other portions into pasture for raising animals, including his race horses. (The Veterans Medical Center sits on the site of his race track!)
Candler’s Tudor style mansion on the grounds used stones quarried on site. This home now serves as the residence of the Emory University president And that Yerkes fence we talked about earlier – that is leftover from a 1962 plan for a Yerkes National Primate Research Center that would have been situated on part of the Lullwater Park land. Here is more about the history of Lullwater Park.
Is Lullwater Preserve only for Emory Students and Staff?
We often get asked this question, and I’ve always said that it’s up for interpretation. The Emory website indicates that the park and preserve are “for community members to enjoy.”
We visit here today as members of the DeKalb County community…but even before our move from the suburbs, we visited as part of the Atlanta Metro Community.
Did they mean the Emory community? Hard to say. There are no signs indicating such on the trail, there are no patrols asking for identification, and by the looks of the people we encountered (which, granted, are superficial at best) we were not the only ones taking a liberal view of the term “community.”
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