It was probably last September or October when I actually looked around and realized how beautiful nature really is around us in Johns Creek. I mean, I'd always thought it was okay, but finally registering that we have a lot of really pretty places around us to get our outdoors on was a beautiful moment for me. Here are seven of the prettiest, most unique places in the Johns Creek area to go experience the natural serenity (honorable mentions to Stone Mountain, which is also definitely worth the hike).

Roswell Mill/Vickery Creek Falls

The Mill is probably my favorite (okay, I know I'm pretty basic) because it is just so! pretty! The entrance to the hiking trails takes you on an older, covered bridge into the Vickery Creek trails, and eventually you end up above a huge waterfall that is a gorgeous spot for a swim in the summertime (very chilly, though). There are plenty of spots to sunbathe on the rocksor hang up an eno, and a hike further back along the waterfront will take you to some (marked) cliffs that are safe to jump off of and to the ruins of an old mill. While the waterfall is definitely the highlight of the park, the trails are extensive, and one could definitely pass an entire afternoon here.

Morgan Falls Overlook Park

Located off the beaten path in Sandy Springs, this park is a little bit less well-known outside of the immediate area. It is centered around a hydroelectric dam (off-limits) that occasionally opens, releasing a huge cascade of water that makes for a beautiful white-noise background. Hiking trails go back into the woods around the water as well as up next to the river, and it is a lovely place for some peaceful riverside meditation when the crowds are lower. Bonus points for the restored fireplace and the swinging benches.

Poole's Mill Park

Definitely a trip to Cumming/Ball Ground to get to Poole's Mill, but the park is too beautiful not to include. The park boasts a beautiful latticed covered bridge over the river, and one can swim and fish along the riverbanks (modest hiking trails). The best part, however, are the rock slides! It is a ton of fun to slide down the smooth rocks, and, even if you're not in the mood to snag your new bathing suit bottoms, bring an inflatable tube to enjoy the ride that way.

Buford Dam Park(s)

While it's a bit of a drive to Suwanee from Johns Creek, the parks around Buford Dam make it worth it. To really enjoy the view, drive up over the dam before stopping off at any number of the labelled recreation areas (my personal favorite is West Bank). Almost all of them allow you to walk along the lakeshore or sit and picnic or contemplate life, and the views are amazing - I took the photo above at the end of last week when I visited myself! I would recommend going in the winter - everything is less congested in general and the lake is calmer.

Indian Seats/Sawnee Mountain

The Indian Seats/Sawnee Mountain is the only mountain on our list (being that it is the only mountain in our area), but that just means that it should be even higher on your bucket list. Although the Indian Seats is in Cumming, views at the top allow visitors to see all the way to North Carolina! Several low-exertion hiking trails allow you to get to the top, where there is an official overlook as well as the Indian Seats - rocks that have built-in booty space for observation. Bring some friends, pack your granola and take the quick drive up 400.

Sope Creek Mill Ruins

Hidden within East Cobb, the Sope Creek hiking trails are a great escape for a few hours. This area is centered around the ruins of a paper mill that was burned by the Union during the Civil War, an interesting reminder of Atlanta's history as one drives past affluent homes to get to the park. Multiple loop trails parallel a small lake and Sope Creek itself, allowing hikers and bikers to soak up the beautiful tree cover.

Fowler Park/Cumming Greenway

Fowler Park in Cumming is definitely one of those places that looks just like a nice recreational park when you drive up, but once you really start exploring, it gets very cool very quickly. At face value, it offers a meditation rock garden and a skate park (as well as other standard park amenities), which are interesting, but it serves as a hub for the start of the Cumming Greenway, an extensive network of wooden boardwalks that diverge off into the woods. It is an interesting way to take a long stroll, and there are various landmarks along the path, such as a lovelock bridge. Especially since rumor has it that the Cumming and Alpharetta greenways are going to be connected, I definitely recommend a drive up.