Sick of heavy traffic, busy sidewalks, and slow crosswalk signals ruining your run? Get off the pavement, hit some of Atlanta’s most popular trails for runners, and take your jogging experience to the next level. There are so many amazing trails to choose from all around Atlanta, from winding, steep elevations through lush state and national parks to more recently developed paved trails crisscrossing the city.
Over the past few years, there have been several organizations dedicated to creating an extensive network of connected paths and trails all around Georgia. The PATH Foundation has already developed a series of trails that have transformed the city of Atlanta and surrounding suburbs into hubs for conservation, and they allow people from all communities to come together and experience the natural beauty around this incredible city.
Whether you are a long-time resident or just relocating to Atlanta, trail running is a great way to explore the scenery around this beautiful city. Check out some of the best trails in Atlanta for runners.
Piedmont Park Loop
Located close to the heart of the city, Piedmont Park is one of the most popular places for runners in Atlanta. The 4-mile trail loops and weaves through some of the park’s most beautiful features. The paved trail has a slight to moderate incline, ideal for runners of all levels.
Start your run at the 10th Street entrance and make your way toward Piedmont Park’s Active Oval. If you are keen to add a few extra miles onto your run, add a few circuits around the oval, but be aware that it does get highly crowded. So, if you are looking to get away from all the hubbub, give the oval a miss and head straight toward the Botanical Gardens to take in the sights and smells of some of Atlanta’s luscious flora.
If you are a dog-lover, the Piedmont Park Loop also boasts two off-leash parks about 1.5 miles in, where you can catch your breath and let your four-legged friend play.
The final leg of the loop takes you past one of Piedmont Park’s sun-drenched meadows, ideal for picnics and soaking up the sun.
Atlanta Beltline Trails
Out of the southeast corner of Piedmont Park begins the Eastside Trail of the Atlanta Beltline. The Atlanta Beltline is a recent initiative developed by the city to transform outdoor recreation in Atlanta. Once finished, it will stretch an impressive 33-miles, connecting 45 of Atlanta’s neighborhoods. Currently, only parts of the Beltline are ready for use, one of which is the already popular Eastside Trail.
The level, paved Eastside trail is a wonderful celebration of local culture. Along the path, you can see local artworks and artifacts from the historic railway the trail was built upon. As you travel, you will also come across the newly developed Ponce City Market to check out some of the local food hotspots. The trail will lead you to the Old Ward neighborhood before taking you back toward Piedmont Park.
If you want to get to know Atlanta a little better, this is the trail for you. If you still have energy left over after exploring, you can always head up the new Eastside hiking extension to take in the amazing view of Midtown Atlanta.
Cochran Shoals Trail
Following the winding Chattahoochee River is the Cochran Shoals trail, so named for the amazing angular rock shoals dotting the track. The trail boasts some spectacular river views, and you are bound to catch sight of some of Atlanta’s abundant wildlife along the way.
The 5-mile gravel track follows the western bank of the river and takes you through beautifully varied terrain, such as wetlands, forests, and grassland. If you have time to spare, take one of the detours branching off the main track to explore some of these picturesque habitats.
West Palisades Trail
The ultra-scenic West Palisades trail at Paces Mill Park is the place to go when you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The paved trail takes you on a 3.6-mile round-trip through lush forest and serene river banks.
The trail follows the vast Chattahoochee river before diverging to follow Rottenwood Creek, ending at a small but beautiful waterfall. Along the way, you’ll pass under the highway by a surprisingly beautiful underpass and cross Rottenwood Creek over an old metal bridge. There are several side trails that diverge from the path and take you to some beautiful areas on the creek bed.
If you are heading out to explore the Palisades, be sure to take your camera. The rocky shoals along the trail are the favorite habitat for deer, heron, and geese, and the trail takes you to some of the best views of Atlanta’s metro area.
South Peachtree Creek Trail
If you only have time for a short run, get the most out of your time with a scenic run along the South Peachtree Creek Trail. While it only covers two miles, the layout of the trail more than makes up for its lack of distance.
The start of the trail takes you down into the old railway corridor, then winds through hilly forest. The last half of the trail gets vertical with a raised boardwalk that takes you through the treetops, where you can see incredible views of the forest and tributes to the area’s history.
Suwanee Greenway Trail
Suwanee Greenway trail offers multiple trailheads for runners looking for a quick morning jog or a longer scenic run. There are also two options for runners to begin their run, either directly on the paved trail or you can spend the first half mile exploring the forest on a rough dirt track.
The paved trail is a 6.3-mile round trip that crosses pristine marshland that is home to some of Atlanta’s most beautiful terrain and abundant aquatic wildlife. If you want to add some extra miles to your workout, turn right at the end of the second boardwalk and continue along the Ivy Creek Greenway trail to see more of Atlanta’s most beautiful wetlands.
If you are running in an area unknown to you, a good idea is to check in with an information center, carry a GPS-enabled device, or use a trail running app to avoid getting lost. Many of these trails are part of much larger networks of hiking trails in vast National Park areas, and it can be easy to lose your way if you aren’t an experienced hiker or have little knowledge of the area.
Exploring the scenic running trails in and around Atlanta is a great way to stay fit and experience this beautiful area. The next time you want to hit the pavement, try one of these remarkable trails instead—and get ready to experience all the natural beauty Atlanta has to offer.