Our national parks offer more than just great views and doses of nature. Many of them are the champions and protectors of our nation’s history, the good and the bad. A trip to one of these parks can exercise both body and mind, offering a little something for everyone. Our Inquisitive TravelingMom set out for Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park to get her kids off the screens on a gorgeous day. She ended up exposing them to important local Civil War history.
Spring has sprung here in Georgia! The sunshine calls me to come out of my self-imposed hibernation. This is why I gathered the troops on a sunny Sunday afternoon and marched them up a mountain. Kennesaw Mountain, to be exact.
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
Located in the Georgia city of Kennesaw, Kennesaw Mountain is a part of the National Park Service. Its natural setting is lovely, but that’s not the only reason it’s being protected. On June 27, 1864 General Sherman proceeded with a frontal assault on Confederate forces at Kennesaw Mountain. For five days the battle waged. When all was said and done, the Union suffered 3,000 losses while the Confederates lost just a third of that. Considered a tactical win for the Confederates, it failed strategically. The goal was to stop Sherman’s advance on Atlanta. Less than three months and heavy casualties later, Sherman entered Atlanta and, thanks to Gone With the Wind, we all know how that turned out.
The Junior Ranger Program
My son’s first stop at any National Park is the visitors center so he can pick up a Junior Ranger book! The Junior Ranger program is free of charge at most National Park sites and gets kids excited about exploring. The program is geared toward ages 7-12, but anyone can receive a Junior Ranger book. Work the activities, get sworn in and receive your new Junior Ranger badge. Your kids have fun and engage with their surroundings while receiving a free souvenir. We’ll add the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park badge to the ones we got from Fort Frederica National Monument and Cumberland Island National Seashore!
The Trails at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
Together, the parks trails add up to 22 miles. The most frequently trodden trail is the roughly one mile trail from the visitor’s center up to the lookout area at the top of the mountain. It’s “only” a mile but parts can be steep. However, I’ve seen many young children conquer this hike if they take their time. Just make sure everyone has plenty of water. There is a shuttle bus that can take you to the top of the mountain for a small fee if you are unable to walk up or are just not in the mood.
We chose to walk the road back down to the visitor’s center for a different view. This route has more gradual hills but is about a quarter mile longer than the hiking trail. You can extend your mileage by taking many of the hikes that spring off of the main trail. Although the trails are fairly well-marked, trail maps are available at the visitors center.
Visitor Etiquette and Tips
A trip to Kennesaw Mountain can and should be fun. However, it’s important to respect the rules of the park and help the staff there preserve our history. There are many signs around the battlefield asking visitors not to use it for recreational purposes, yet every time I go I see people spreading out blankets, playing ball and having lunch. It’s super tempting, I know. Historically significant spaces, however, deserve respect.
Pack in and pack out. There are no water fountains at the top of the mountain, so be sure to bring enough water to cover you on the way up and the way back down. Bathrooms are only in the visitors center, so encourage everyone to go before you start your trek. There are receptacles for garbage and recycling at the overlook area. Take your time. There are benches and plenty of large, flat rocks that you can rest on during your hike. Well behaved dogs on leashes are most certainly welcome. This requires well-behaved owners that clean up after their pets.
Before or after your hike, pop in to the museum located off the gift shop. Besides information, the museum displays items found on the battlefield or the mountain as well as authentic soldier’s uniforms and battle flags. I love that there are still trails and areas of Kennesaw Mountain that we have yet to explore, making sure that each trip there is never the same experience.