From Piedmont Park to the former railway corridor that is being developed into the BeltLine, this southern city boasts endless possibilities for running. So, lace ‘em up; the city awaits. Here are the best urban parks for runners in Atlanta.
The crown jewel of Atlanta’s running scene covers 189 acres, offers beautiful views of Atlanta’s skyline, and features a variety of terrain in its latticework of trails.
There are five miles of trails, both paved and gravel, with open meadows and wooded sections. There is a half-mile inner gravel Active Oval that is popular for jogging and interval running.
There is parking, but because the park is busy day and night, public transportation is a better option. The park is less than a mile from MARTA’s Midtown and Arts Center stations.
The BeltLine is one of the newest running destinations in Atlanta, and it is popular because of its easy accessibility and its scenic spots along the way. Because it is an interlinking network of public parks and multi-use trails, it appeals to everyone, from the short-distance runner to those in it for the long haul.
Built on the city’s former 22-mile railway corridor that circles downtown, the BeltLine is Atlanta’s most comprehensive transportation and economic development effort ever, and one of the biggest urban redevelopment projects in the U.S. When completed, it will connect many of the city’s neighborhoods.
There are four major trail sections open so far. The Eastside Trail is the most popular with runners, cyclists, and walkers. Because it’s paved, it is perfect for running regardless of the weather. The trail, which stretches two miles in one direction and is primarily flat, connects Piedmont Park to the Virginia Highlands and Old Fourth Ward neighborhoods. The trail leads to Ponce City Market, the historic Fourth Ward Park, and Krogg Street Market if you’re in the mood for shopping, eating, or relaxing after your run.
The trail is accessible from MARTA’s Midtown Station. Run early in the day if you want to avoid crowds.
The Northside Trail runs through Tanyard Creek Park—one of the most picturesque stretches of the BeltLine. It’s about a mile long from Ardmore Park to Atlanta Memorial Park.
The Southwest Connector Spur Trail winds just over a mile through a serene stretch of woods from the Lionel Hampton Trail through to the Beecher Hills and Westwood Terrance neighborhoods. When completed, this trail will stretch four-and-a-half miles.
The West End Trail stretches 2.4 miles from White Street to Westview Cemetery and connects several southwest Atlanta neighborhoods, including historical West End, Mozley Park, and Westview.
The Freedom Park Trail’s ribbon of paved pathway winds along flat terrain and up and down hills around the city’s largest linear park. The 2.5 miles Freedom Parkway Trail winds from the Martin Luther King National Historic Site to the Carter Library and along the trails adjacent to Freedom Parkway.
There’s also a 3.6-mile loop starting at Carter Library and heading to Freedom Park and Chandler Park. The trails are picturesque runs, full of greenery.
For the ultra-long-distance runners, the Freedom Park Trail heading east eventually becomes the PATH Stone Mountain Trail, extending 17 miles one way.
Morningside Nature Preserve
A hidden gem, this protected area was a project initiated by the Wildwood Urban Forest Committee to stop the deforestation of 33 acres of woods in Northeast Atlanta.
Run the two-mile wooded loop that winds past a sandy beach and picturesque wooden suspension bridge on South Peachtree Creek. The matrix of running trails traverses across 30 acres of rolling forest.
Cochran Shoals Trail
With its breathtaking scenery, this three-mile trail is one of Atlanta’s favorite destinations for runners. It follows the banks of the Chattahoochee River, with wide open views of the river’s rocky shoals, and then loops back across meadows and through a marshland teeming with wildlife. It has wide, gravel trails, and oodles of natural scenery, drawing out scores of runners on fair-weather days.
Chastain Park is Atlanta’s largest city park, covering 268 acres in north Buckhead. The paved trails offers a choice of two three-mile loops over gently rolling trails. The pathways wind through the wedge-shaped park pass through shaded, landscaped areas, past the Park’s golf course, tennis center, horse park, and alongside a duck pond. This popular park is a perfect meeting place for a group run.
PATH Foundation is a network of trails in and around metro Atlanta, developed for walking, running, and cycling.