- Dacey Orr For the AJC
The cool weather doesn’t mean you’re relegated to stuffy workouts in the gym.
Popular paths like the Beltline's Eastside jaunt to Piedmont Park grow crowded with bikers, strollers, runners and walkers, and as great as it is to see Atlantans outdoors it gets hard to fully enjoy the outdoors at your own pace. But there are plenty of lesser-known spots to get outside without going OTP.
Check out these six in-town trails to get you started.
Palisades White Water Creek
4059 Whitewater Creek Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30327
In the late '70s, Jimmy Carter identified a 48-mile stretch of the Chattahoochee River as a part of the National Park System. One of 15 entry points along the river, which spans several counties across Georgia, is nestled right into a residential neighborhood off Mount Paran Road. Watch folks shoot the 'Hooch as you run along the river on the low-key trail, complete with modest bridges and thick greenery, without ever leaving Buckhead--the 5.5 mile trail is perfect for those training for the AJC Peachtree Road Race or just looking for a couple hours of solitude.
Morningside Nature Preserve
2020 Lenox Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30306
Previously referred to as the Wildwood Forest, the Morningside Nature Preserve is a 2.5 mile trail in the centrally-located Virginia Highlands neighborhood. This sprawling wooded oasis, which runs along the shores of the South Fork Peachtree Creek, was won by neighborhood residents in conjunction with The Nature Conservancy, who fought to preserve the meadowy plot of land in the 2000s. Climb stairs, walk meadows and run through woods to stay fit while exploring this urban green space, where you're likely to see turtles, foxes, and other wildlife.
Beltline Northside Trail
460 Collier Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30309
Yeah, we get it--you've got the Beltline down. But the Beltline's scope extends far beyond the stretch between Old Fourth Ward and Piedmont Park, and the paved path on the Northside is considerably less crowded than its Eastside relative. Winding around the Bobby Jones Golf Course in between Midtown and Buckhead, you'll find playgrounds and picnic grounds along the side of this one mile trail—two miles if you make it a round trip—making it the perfect go-to for a family hike. A jog down this path also exposes the Beltline's historic roots, too, with a rustic bridge built on a train trestle, and its proximity to Tanyard Creek gives it a particular peacefulness.
South Peachtree Creek Trail
1400 McConnell Dr, Decatur, GA 30033
The trails at South Peachtree Creek are a part of a larger initiative from the PATH Foundation, an organization founded in the mid-1990s that combines private donations with public funding to build off-road trails in Atlanta. This particular section of land is an ongoing development that links Mason Mill Park, which also contains tennis facilities, restrooms and water fountains, with Medlock Park, a recreational facility with baseball diamonds, a playground, pool and more. The trail is accessible off of Clairmont Road and also passes by the gritty graffiti of the old Decatur Waterworks remains, with creeks and bridges offering additional views.
Cascade Springs Nature Preserve
2852 Cascade Rd SW, Atlanta, GA 30311
Arguably one of the most beautiful trails in the city limits, Cascade Springs is as lush with streams and flowing water as its name suggests, including a towering waterfall. Its beauty is tucked away behind chain-link fences and increasingly dated developments, giving it an heir of secrecy and a relative calm that only adds to its charm. Clocking in somewhere between one and two mules, the trail isn't marked particularly well, so newcomers may want to plot out your route or enlist the help of GPS apps like MapMyRun. Beyond the site's natural beauty, history buffs will want to investigate the remains of structures built by Civil War troops--the greenspace was host to defense several measures involved the nearby Battle of Utoy Creek.
Herbert Taylor and David Johnson Park on South Peachtree
Beech Valley Rd. and Johnson Rd.
This 1.5 mile loop runs through a green space that was donated to the city by the families of Herbert Taylor and David Johnson. Spanning over 30 acres, the Rock Creek Watershed Alliance assists the City of Atlanta in maintaining the space, which consists of creeks, waterfalls and ample greenery. Look out for mud during wet seasons—the area does flood after heavy rainfall—but be sure to enjoy the abundant wild greenery, from flowers to towering trees.
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