Three Trails, Three Ways 2

Buckhead’s location on the outskirts of the city is flush with forests and trails, making it a prime location for outdoor recreation. Between its many parks and the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, outdoor lovers can find plenty of options for hiking, biking and running trails. These are three of my favorites.  Print a trail map from the National Park Service website (NPS.gov) and get on it!

For Hiking: East Palisades Trail

Hiking at East Palisades along the Chattahoochee River offers geological wonders such as creviced rocky ledges and a towering bamboo forest. Flatter portions of the trail meander along Long Island Creek’s shoals and the Chattahoochee River, but as you stray away from the river and weave into the woods, East Palisades Trail transforms into steep climbs with switchbacks, almost fooling you into thinking you are in the mountains. Find the bamboo forest after passing the trail marker EP 16, at the northern edge of the park boundaries. For a beautiful sunrise or sunset view, climb to the summit of East Palisades at trail marker EP 8, where the trees part to reveal a stunning view of the Chattahoochee River and Devils Race Course shoals below. The beauty of East Palisades Trail is that there are options for varying difficulties: the trails most easily accessed by the Whitewater entrance are perfect for families, while the more challenging terrain is a great hike for those itching to get in some climbs.

As a part of the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area, there is a $3 parking fee.

1425 Indian Trail NW Sandy Springs

For Mountain Biking: 
Sope Creek Trail

The Sope Creek Trails are the closest mountain biking trails to the city and once you climb up into the woods, you’ve escaped into a dense tree canopy that hides fun and flowing singletrack. These trails cater to beginner and intermediate mountain bikers and make a figure-eight loop totaling about seven miles. The trails feature a few switchbacks and rollers that are easy to navigate, but require a solid level of fitness as the trails traverse the sloping valley forest to the Chattahoochee River. Sope Creek features an upper and lower loop; for heart-pumping climbs, start at the Paper Mill trailhead and ride counter-clockwise on the upper loop. You’ll catch views of the ravine and Sope Creek’s rapids along the ridgeline. For rolling hills, tackle the lower loop, where Sope Creek Trails connect to Cochran Shoals and its flat 3-mile gravel loop that parallels the Chattahoochee River.

As a part of the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area, there is a $3 parking fee.

3760 Paper Mill Road SE, Marietta

For Trail Running: Murphy Candler Park

Many know Murphy Candler Park for its recreational sport fields, but tucked behind Murphy Candler Lake is a winding network of trails that are perfect for a quick trail run. The loop itself is just over one mile, so it’s easy to incorporate the trail into your neighborhood road run or do a few off-road laps. This trail is perfect for those just getting into trail running, not just for its short distance, but for its predominantly flat terrain. More than half of the trail is shaded by towering trees, and a few bridges cross over Nancy Creek on the northern edge of the park. The woods hide the only steep hill on the trail that is made more difficult by tree roots bulging from the ground. Avoid climbing the hill by running clockwise around the lake. You’ll encounter most of the trail’s elevation running over short up-and-down humps, but overall this is a forgiving trail for running.

1551 W Nancy Creek Dr NE

MurpheyCandlerPark.org