Why We Love Hiking Lullwater Park at Emory University

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, boasting beautiful trees, acres of green space, and a lake.

It’s also a haven for kids with  a 210 ft long suspension bridge to cross, 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 Forest Park Entrance.  Head to the side, on Houston Mill Road.  On the left you will see Hahn Forest Park.  There is a small parking area for this park, but for us it was empty! Park here, and 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 and hike the forest loop. We were anxious to see the ruins, so we played on the bridge a little bit, but ultimately  did not cross it. We stayed straight on our hike only a few hundred yards to the mill ruins, “waterfall” and sand play area behind the Lullwater mansion!

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. It’s pretty flat too, a nice option for inexperienced 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.

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Lullwater Park Atlanta Emory


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Lullwater Park a family friendly hike within Atlanta city limits

20 Comments on "Why We Love Hiking Lullwater Park at Emory University"

  1. My sister and I made a giant list of new places we want to take our kids and explore this summer. Our first stop was here at Lullwater. We had a great time, and it was absolutely beautiful (we went just yesterday)! We can’t wait to try some other new places. Thanks for all the recommendations!

  2. Just wondering if the trail leading to the bridge is wheelchair accessible?

    • Sarah – the path I recommend taking in my post is not, but if you enter the park through the front gates, the road is paved and very wide. It will take you to within a few feet of the bridge.

  3. Lesli. What about parking. Where people park. any suggestions?


    • Sure. Park on Houston Mill Road at Hahn Forest Park. You’ll just follow the path under the bridge. It will take you to the bridge.

  4. Really like your site. But today was a bit more adventure than I planned for. We easily found the parking at Hahn Woods. And took the stairs down and under the road. But the walk to the bridge with a 3 and 4 year old was about 30 minutes. And from there I just assumed we were supposed to cross the bridge. But I’m thinking that was the wrong choice. Another hour of hiking a big circle, I bribed my kids back to the car without climbing any mansion. There’s not much signage so it was a bit of guess work. I was happy for shade but it was still hot… Maybe a bit more detail to get to the destination? Cheers

    • AMA – This breaks my heart!!! I hate that my directions were not clear and that you had a rough day! I want to cry!! I will update the post right this second. In the meantime, please please please email me your address. I have a $25 Starbucks card that you whole-heartedly deserve!! lesli (at) 365AtlantaFamily dot com.

  5. We parked at Hahn Forest. The path under the road was pretty treacherous. We had to navigate under supports and with the incline I was a little nervous with four kids. It was not a clear trail and we wandered around a little looking for a clear path. I would recommend this for kids 5 and up. Mine are 21 mos, 3 1/2, 6 and 7.

    • I’m going back on my recommendation. My 3 1/2 year old did the whole trail with out batting an eye including carrying a backpack with her lunch and water. We all loved this adventure, the kids (and I) were a bit skeptical when we saw the shady path under the road but we all had a blast! On the way back we just crossed the street and it was fine.

  6. Is it safe for a woman to walk the trails, waterfall, bridge…by herself?

  7. Thank you for the parking tip! Loved this hike. My 4 year old did it with no trouble. I carried by 17 month old in an ergo and did fine. I was wondering how you got to the “ruins”? They didn’t seem accessible from the Lullwater mansion side.

    • Lesli Peterson | 04/20/2017 at 1:37 am | Reply

      Hmmm – maybe we went when the water was lower? We just walked across the sandbar.
      Glad you had a good time!

  8. Lesli….thank you so much for the parking information. About two weeks ago my 8 year old and I took off to find Lullwater Park but was discouraged when we could not find parking. After being redirected to the VA, and not finding anything, we ended up hiking at Hanh Forest….(which was a great hike itself) but turned around right after the bridge. Now that I know the trail after the bridge leads to Lullwater…we will be making our way back. Thank you.

  9. The tip about Hahn Forest Park is NOT true. VERY disappointed!!! This is a restricted Emory area that you have to have an Emory Parking hang pass to park there. Waste of time and gas!!! 👎🏼

    • Lesli Peterson | 09/19/2019 at 10:26 am | Reply

      Hmmm…I wonder if they changed that recently. We don’t have an Emory pass and had no issues. Thanks for letting us know, I will go check it out next week. I am so sorry you couldn’t find another parking spot because it is fantastic!

  10. Did the Hahn Forest Park Entrance parking area indeed change to need an Emory parking pass to park there?? We are hoping to check the area out in about a week and a bit.


  11. Can you get in the water and play under the waterfall? or do you think they want people to keep out of the water?

  12. Clay Tillman | 08/15/2020 at 7:25 am | Reply

    I am so confused. When trying to find information about Lullwater many sites say that is only available to Emory students, faculty, and staff. Atlanta trails even reports there being signage stating this around the property. A guy on a Yelp review said that someone told him he had “no business” being there. Should I be concerned about being asked to leave since I am not affiliated with Emory?

    • Lesli Peterson | 08/15/2020 at 11:49 am | Reply

      I hear ya Clay. There is nothing on the Emory website (the Lullwater page) that indicates this is for Emory peeps only. When we went, we saw a security guard and asked…he said the entire community visits on the regular. I’ve heard those same stories, but they don’t align with our experiences…

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