A Guide to Spring Cycling in Atlanta: What to Know, Where to Go
Atlanta is undergoing a cultural renaissance, and the renewed enthusiasm of the city is helping grow a great community of outdoor and fitness lovers. Thanks to the burgeoning cycling scene and the work of organizations like the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association and the PATH Foundation, established cycling and multi-use trails around the city have dramatically increased cycling opportunities in the busiest downtown districts and the quaint suburbs of the metro area. The following are five must-do rides this spring in the Atlanta area, where you can also enjoy the music, hip neighborhoods and soulful foodie scene that make the city so enjoyable.
1. The Atlanta BeltLine
While there are scores of rides around the city, the BeltLine allows you to explore the heart of Atlanta as well as its neighborhoods in an easy way. Passing through notable destinations like trendy Little Five Points, Midtown and other stops like the Atlanta Botanical Garden and Zoo Atlanta, this protected and paved path will give you a taste for all areas surrounding downtown.
What Makes it Great: Whether riding a carbon racing bike, a mountain bike, or a cruiser, the BeltLine is like a cycling bypass to launch a self-guided tour of the city. You’ll get to see the city while sampling food, visiting coffee shops, and enjoying a warm spring day.
Who’s Going to Love It: If you want to see the city from a saddle, start here. The clearly marked trail takes the guessing out of regular road rides and less interesting spots by taking you through the heart of the coolest neighborhoods and away from touristy destinations and busy streets. While great for cycling, the BeltLine is a multi-use path that’s also popular for running and walking. Try to hit the BeltLine while visiting during during working hours to avoid the crowds.
2. The Silver Comet Trail
Starting 13 miles northwest of Atlanta in the suburb of Smyrna, the Silver Comet Trail travels for 61.5 miles to the the Alabama state line in Cedartown. Built on a former railroad bed, the trail is fully paved, providing easy and scenic cycling opportunities whether you’re interested in a short ride or a day-long adventure.
What Makes it Great: The path is mostly flat toward the city, but it’s punctuated with hills as you head west toward Rockmart. Over the course of this ride, you’ll pass over bridges, under former railroad tunnels and through charming cities with great places to grab lunch.
Who’s Going to Love It: While experienced cyclists will appreciate the distance, novice riders will enjoy the sheltered path, relatively low grade and the ample opportunities to create a custom ride.
3. Blankets Creek
Mountain biking is popular in North Georgia, and there are plenty of excellent places to mountain bike close to the city. Blankets Creek, located in nearby Woodstock, is arguably the best. Hailed as one of the best public bike parks in the South, this sprawling system offers everything from flat beginner trails to ultra-scary, expert-only trails and downhill runs.
What Makes it Great: Aside from the sheer diversity and quality of the trails, Blankets Creek is the central hub for the immensely friendly and social mountain biking scene of the city. From the sprawling parking lot, it’s impossible not to meet fellow cyclists who want to talk about their bikes and other trails to hit.
Who’s Going to Love It: If can only mountain bike one place near Atlanta, you’d be hard pressed to find a better destination, regardless of experience or skill.
4. Arabia Mountain Trail
The Arabia Mountain Trail was built by the PATH Foundation, which is responsible for 180 miles of trail throughout Georgia. This trail system offers steep hills and tight turns in a 33-mile escape, which is located about half an hour southeast of downtown Atlanta in Lithonia, Georgia.
What Makes it Great: This trail has several free parking spots and places to create a custom tailored ride to make the most of steep ascents and sketchy turns. Located amid more than 7,000 acres of greenspace, the Arabia Mountain Trail takes mountain bikers through towering pine trees and fields of colorful wildflowers for a very scenic ride.
Who’s Going to Love it: If you’re more interested in keeping up your training program than pedaling around the city to see things, you’ll find an excellent opportunities to push yourself on the Arabia Mountain Path.
5. Olde Rope Mill
Slightly closer to downtown than Blankets Creek, Olde Rope Mill offers a plethora of smooth and flowy trails without the crowds. This park is an ongoing project, but the two main loops offers lots of riding and a nice park by the creek for those who want to relax and enjoy a beautiful day after a ride.
What Makes it Great: Olde Rope Mill typically has fewer crowds, and as for the riding, these trails are high on a ridge overlooking a creek. You’ll find fewer turns than other parks, which means for some fast riding.
Who’s Going to Love It: Overall, this spot has few sections that are rocky or rooty, so folks who prefer less or no suspension will be especially tickled with these well-groomed, fast-rolling trails. This is also a great place for training, as many of the trails have steady ascents throughout both loops.
Written by Charlie Morgan for RootsRated in partnership with Atlanta CVB.
Featured image provided by Blane Bachelor