Three Trails, Three Ways

Alpharetta’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.  Grab the map and details off the National Park Service website, NPS.gov. These are three of my favorites.

For Hiking: Vickery Creek Trail

Just down the road from Historic Roswell, Vickery Creek Trail follows the creek along steep banks and thick Georgia forest in several loop trails. Vickery Creek, also known as Big Creek, is a tributary north of the Chattahoochee River. Low hanging trees and vegetation line the trails, most of which are double-wide and packed with a mix of pine straw and dirt. Take the main outer loop for a 3-mile hike, and make a detour on the side trails to see the covered bridge, two historic mill ruins and the Roswell Mill spillway dam. With its historical views, minimal elevation, and short distances, this is a great hike for the family. Use the South Atlanta Street trailhead to see the Allenbrook Historic House and the ruins of the Roswell Mill, which was used to produce cotton for Confederate soldiers in the 1800s. Hike clockwise and you’ll reach the Roswell Spillway dam, which powered the mill during the Civil War period. Now the miniature waterfall is a pleasant view along the hike.

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

400 Riverside Road Roswell

For Mountain Biking: Big Creek Park

Whether mountain biking or road cycling, Big Creek Park has options to pedal for miles. From the main parking lot at Old Alabama Road, road cyclists can hop on Big Creek Greenway, a paved multi-use path that stretches 8.3 miles from Old Alabama Road in Roswell to Webb Bridge Road in Alpharetta. This road is largely uninterrupted by traffic and is best for those doing easy, flat rides, as the speed limit is 15 miles per hour. Mountain bikers can dive into the woods on the singletrack trails nestled in Big Creek’s dried-up creek bed. Beginners can tackle the rollers while advanced riders will find technical features, such as angled bridges, log rides, dirt jumps and steep descents. The 6.8 miles of mountain biking trails are well marked with both blazes and abundant signage.

1600 Old Alabama Road, Roswell

Rambo-mtb.org/Big-Creek-Park

For Trail Running: Cochran Shoals

The Cochran Shoals trailhead is one of the prime spots for trail running near the Metro Atlanta area. The gravel 3-mile loop runs parallel to the Chattahoochee River and then loops away from the river to a stretch alongside forests and meadows. This is great for beginners who want to try out an alternate surface to road running. Once you’ve built up miles, run into the wooded sections where you can explore a confluence of well-marked trails weaving through the forests. These trails are more technical, with roots and rocks, so keep an eye on your feet. A fun section of the woods is the portion along Gunby Creek, where the trail dips and requires you to cross the pebbled creekbeds no wider than 5 feet. Trail runners are allowed on the mountain bike loop, where the trails roll up and down in sweeping curves, but its recommended to run the opposite direction of bike traffic. In July, these trails are well-shaded, and cool drafts of air drift in from the river.

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

5450 Interstate N Pkwy, Sandy Springs