Skip the sidewalk: Atlanta's best running trails

  • Eric Champlin
  • for The AJC
5:41 p.m Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 Atlanta Events

Every year, about 60,000 adrenaline-filled runners and walkers will line up for the AJC Peachtree Road Race on July 4. With upbeat energy, crowds of spectators and a whole lot of fun, it's pretty much the best way get your Fourth celebrations started in Atlanta.

Did you run the Peachtree? What about next year? Training starts on July 5, or maybe 6 or 7. You've got to stay in shape for the race. If you're suffering from sidewalk burnout, or you've run just one too many loops around Piedmont Park, hit one of these popular running trails for a change of scenery. You'll escape traffic, slow-to-change crosswalk signals and uneven sidewalks and you'll soak up some scenery in some of Atlanta's most scenic parks.

Whether you've scored your coveted Peachtree shirt or not, keep up your fitness on these trails, and enjoy a distraction-free run immersed in a bit of natural beauty. You won't need trail-specific running shoes; they're all paved, except Cochran Shoals Trail, and it's a level, crushed gravel trail that's regular-running-shoe friendly.

Enjoy the trail and stay hydrated out there...

Chastain Park Run a trio of paved PATH Foundation trails at this park in north Buckhead. You'll run your choice of two 5K loops or a 3K loop, trailing over gently-rolling terrain. The trails wind through a shaded, landscaped park, past Chastain Park's golf course, horse park and tennis center, and beside a duck pond. It's a popular, social trail, and a great meeting place for a group run with friends.

Cochran Shoals If you're searching for a scenic trail, it doesn't get much better than Cochran Shoals. Run a flat, nearly level, fast 5K loop on this gravel trail on the banks of the Chattahoochee River near Vinings. The trail explores the river's banks, catches wide-open views of the Chattahoochee's rocky shoals and runs through a scenic, wildlife-filled wetland. Don't be surprised if you fall in love with the trail, and join the runners by the hundreds who work Cochran Shoals into their regular running routine.

Atlanta Beltline In case you've somehow haven't yet, you've got to experience a run on the Atlanta Beltline. With three paved sections of the Atlanta Beltline complete, you've got several choices for a Beltline run. Run the first-built section of the Atlanta Beltline on the West End Trail, a 2.4 mile stretch from White Street to Westview Cemetery. Run the popular (and often crowded) Eastside Trail, 2 miles from Piedmont Park to Irwin St. Or for some spectacular scenery, including a towering train trestle and a meandering creek, run the one mile Northside Trail at Tanyard Creek Park.

Suwanee Creek Greenway Run the Suwanee Creek Greenway's paved trail and boardwalks through beautiful wetland. End to end and back, it's a 10K run that's a perfect distance for Peachtree training. Fern-filled forest, grassy wetlands, songbirds and creeks set the scene for a run with a natural backdrop. If you're up for some more mileage, follow the Ivy Creek Greenway at the Suwanee Greenway's end to catch some more wetland beauty, adding 2.5 miles to your run.

Tribble Mill Park Run the paved loop trail at Tribble Mill Park in Gwinnett, circling a glassy, reflective lake and trailing through shady, mossy forest. You'll love the nearly-level elevation and almost-5K distance. Catch the mid-run best views in the morning, when Ozora Lake reflects beautiful post-sunrise colors on its gently rippling surface.

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