A fairly easy trail, the Laurel Ridge Trail follows the ridge line east of Lake Lanier and the Buford Dam. The trail head has numerous facilities and accommodations for your outdoor activities. It includes bathrooms, drinking fountain, swimming areas, boat ramps, and an easy family friendly hiking trail. Starting the trail at the Lower Overlook, the path swerves left a short distance from a building across a small valley. Proceed to climb to a road that crosses a marked intersection. At this point, be cautious in crossing it due to the high speed cars passing.
Moving away from Buford Dam Road, a brown metal structure makes a path exclusive only for hikers. However, dogs are not permitted in this trail as a policy imposed by the Lake Lanier Authority. The path then makes an easy downhill trek and then curves right onto the first picnic area where restrooms are nearby. Lined with benches, the path then begins to move another downhill terrain approaching the Chattahoochee River Valley. Nevertheless, be careful in your traverse down this path as some tree roots and smaller rocks make this terrain a bit challenging.
Finally at your right, you will reach an observation platform and from here go back onto the path to set forth an extended descent to another 0.4 miles. At this point, another overlook offers you the best view of Bowman’s Island Unit. The trail continues to follow the level river birch-lined bank of the Chattahoochee River. Move further until you cross a small flood plain and then make a difficult climb towards the tributary of the Chattahoochee River.
Crossing a wooden bridge then a boulder, the path leads you to an ascent passing a bench in a wooden bridge. Move past this and approach a set of stone pillars and then cross Buford Dam Road. It will then continue to a second set of stone pillars prior to entering a mostly shaded forest. Set forth into an open field as the path curves left and moves down to a set of steps. From here you will cross a land bridge before swerving right.
Crossing the two park access roads, the Laurel Ridge Trail comes to a small playground with pavilion surrounded by picnic tables and a grill. The trail continues onto a sidewalk as it goes down to another set of steps and finally swerving left. Then the path makes a right turn and then another left back to a compacted clay ground where a white blaze directs you to the correct path for the trail back. The path then goes back on a boardwalk to the view of Lake Lanier…