6 of Atlanta’s best bike trails
Despite Atlanta’s dense population, and all the infamous traffic that goes along with it, the city is also surprisingly devoted to transportation’s two-wheel counterpart—the bicycle. Atlanta has scenic and functional trails to prove their devotion.
Bicycling through Atlanta begets views both historic and modern. Astride your two-wheeled companion, you’re sure to enjoy segments of shade beneath the city’s forested canopy as well as brisk industrial areas that bustle and hum most hours of the day and night.
Break free from the same old neighborhood haunts and experience more of what Atlanta bike trails have to offer. Here are some of the city’s best biking trails.
The Atlanta Beltline was born out of necessity and a desire to create a big-picture community. In his 1999 thesis, Ryan Gravel proposed connecting contiguous Atlanta neighborhoods, many of which carry a history of division and marginalization, using old rail corridors that revolved around the city. The old rail lines could be converted into paths and trails for commuting, exercise, and the preservation of green space.
Since then, the Atlanta Beltline has become the City of Atlanta’s “legacy project” and is set to expand to its full 22-mile loop by 2030. There is plenty to explore and experience as you ride the trails today. The Westside Trail winds past Alumna Farm, an urban farm that helps supply fresh produce to neighborhoods with little access to groceries. On other trails like the Northside and Southside Trails, keep your eyes open for family-friendly parks and art installations.
Silver Comet Trail
The Silver Comet Trail is a quiet, completely paved trail that travels west from Smyrna’s Mavell Road trailhead and on through Cobb, Paulding, and Polk counties. On any given day, bicyclists will be joined on the tree-lined trail by walkers and runners, dog walkers and rollerbladers, and even the occasional horse rider, all intent on uninterrupted time outdoors.
The Silver Comet Trail runs 61.5 miles long at a 2% grade, a gentle slope perfect for beginners and advanced alike, depending on how many miles you hope to log. The trail finally comes to an end at the Georgia/Alabama state line. Here, the Silver Comet Trail connects to the Chief Ladiga Trail, adding an extra 33-mile-long stretch.
No matter your intended distance, please be sure to bring your own water. Water fountains may not be working depending on the season, and you’re sure to need some refreshments.
Olmsted Linear Park
The Olmsted Linear Park is a historic gem tucked alongside Ponce de Leon Avenue’s gentle curves. The park stretches through six aptly segments--Springdale, Virgilee, Oak Grove, Shadyside, Dellwood and Deepdene. Bikers will be treated to stunning views of this urban oasis, including woodlands, streams, and large grassy areas.
And if you have some fledgling bikers that need to stay close, this might be just the spot. The generally flat trail is mostly paved and, per its linear nature, lends itself to long-distance sights for your little ones. There are also plenty of unpaved trails for them to explore on foot.
If you are a newbie looking for a little guidance on biking equipment and trails, look no further than Discovery Trail. Hosted by Callaway Garden, this location makes spending a day biking easy and low-stress since there’s no shuttling hefty equipment or scouting out trails along the way. Just hop in the car and head a little over an hour southwest of Atlanta.
There are 10 miles and 25,000 acres of well-paved wooded paths to explore, including gardens and lakes. Rentals are available daily year-round, (hours flex seasonally). If you’re hoping to pack especially light, they also rent out helmets and all the gear needed to make it a family affair, like baby seats and bike trailers.
Blankets Creek Trail System
If you’re looking for a bit more adrenaline, look no further than Blankets Creek. Here you’ll find mountain biking trails rated for all skill levels. Beginner trails like Mosquito Flats and Mosquito Bite are around a mile each and offer beautiful creekside views.
You can’t go home until you ride the park’s most popular trail, the intermediate Dwelling Loop. The full trail runs 4.2 miles and also offers a 2-mile loop. Either way, you are sure to find ways to increase your fitness and technique with elevation gains, roots, and rocks to challenge your path.
Among the most rustic trails, the South Loop is purposely left unmaintained to give bikers a thrilling ride over lots of rocks—in gardens, crossings and on technical switchbacks. Lots of rocks, and lots of fun for those daring to give it a go!
Local history and nature combine to create breathtaking rides just outside Atlanta, at Arabia Mountain. With over 30 miles and lots of stories to uncover, you’re sure to ride awhile on the well-maintained paved trails. You’ll ride by farms and quarries and across covered bridges on this not-to-be-missed bike trail.
Parking has been a bit hard to come by due to the pandemic. Come ready to pay for parking; $5 if you want to park inside the Panola Mountain State Park. Or, you can scout around for other trailhead parking spots. Check out the Polebridge Trailhead at 6262 Browns Mill Road, or the cul-de-sac at the Lyon Farm Trailhead’s 4431 Lyons Road location.
This story was originally published by Kristin Lowe in 2022 and has since been updated.