Feel like going for an adventure with your dog but don’t know how to find any good slices of nature inside the Atlanta perimeter?
Here are 10 great destinations within 20 miles of the heart of Atlanta.
1. Piedmont Park—Midtown
We’ll use Piedmont Park as our starting place, since it’s smack dab in the middle of the city. All the other places I’ll list will be relative to this park.
Piedmont Park is large for a downtown park. It’s kind of like Atlanta’s central park, if it had one.
Located in Buckhead, the park sports about ten acres of natural land. It’s a daily routine for many a Midtown native who need to go for walks or runs with their dogs—they even have a sectioned off dog park for socializing!
In addition to this, there are beautiful pavilions, stone steps, bridges and lakes. No matter where you go in Piedmont Park, there always seems to be a change of scenery.
2. Morningside Nature Preserve–3 miles
Morningside Nature Preserve is three miles away from Piedmont Park, located in a part of town called Morningside-Lenox Park. Though it’s right in the middle of a bustling shopping center, it’s as peaceful as it can be.
Built over and around South Fork Peachtree Creek, the nature preserve is prone to flooding, making it a sort of wetland. Luckily, someone built boardwalks all across the trails, so you don’t have to go washing your dog’s feet after a stroll.
In addition, they also have some impressively-built wire-suspended bridges that make for some amazing trail architecture.
3. Fernbank Forest—5 miles
One of the smaller hiking destinations, Fernbank Forest is located right behind the Fernbank Science Center just outside of Decatur. It’s a modest park, without too many flairs or frills. Still, the foliage is incredible and relaxing.
The upside to this park is its accessibility. From Midtown, it’s just a short drive down East Ponce de Leon Ave. It’s a great destination if you want to check out the science center as well.
4. Blue Heron Nature Preserve—6 miles
This is a pretty standard nature preserve. Located between Chastain Park and Brookhaven, the Blue Heron Nature Preserve sits in the middle of a suburban area.
It features a little creek with small waterfalls, small bridges and picnic areas. Its multiple trails give you freedom to choose which way you and your pup want to go and for how long you want to hike.
5. Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve—8 miles
One of my personal favorite parks in the metro area, Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve is a labyrinthine escape off of the suburb of Medlock in Decatur.
Like Morningside, it’s prone to become muddy, and someone has built extensive boardwalks to keep you from getting your boots wet. This park has great lookout spots and observatories, as well as a truly confusing layout.
6. East Palisades Park—10 miles
If you’re looking for a trail by a river, this is it—though I don’t recommend your dog go swimming here.
Located up in Vinings, this trail begins the ones you really have to plan ahead of time, because they’re somewhat far away. The following will all be trails to make a day trip out of.
This roundabout trail is a commitment. There is no short version of this trail, so you either have to go the whole way around or stop and turn around. Either way, you get an excellent view of the Chattahoochee River.
7. Cascade Springs Nature Preserve–10 miles
If I could describe this trail in one word, it would be “magical.” This place is what you would imagine if Walt Disney designed a nature preserve. There are opulent little structures, beautiful small waterfalls and hanging plants.
I don’t mean to make it sound like it might have featured in “Fantasia,” but it’s certainly one of the more pretty nature walks around Atlanta. Located near Cascade Heights, this trail borders the South Utoy Creek.
8. Sope Creek Trail—15 miles
Located near the Chattahoochee river, north of East Palisades Park, this trail is interesting because of its history. The trail has been drawn around a group of paper mill ruins which were created when the mill was destroyed by the Union armies during the Civil War.
The park is also provides a great vantage point to the Chattahoochee river, and features as one of the Chattahoochee River Hiking Trails.
9. Johnson Ferry Trail—17 miles
Another metropolitan hiking area, this small trail sits at the trough of two hills and runs right beside the Chattahoochee river again.
Because it’s so close to river level, this trail can sometimes get flooded and become impossible to walk in because of all the water and mud. Also, this trail is precarious. There are slippery rocks that you need to be able to walk over to get to the other side of some creeks, and there are thin trails at the tops of a few of the hills.
This trail is not recommended for uncoordinated people or people hiking alone. So be careful when taking your pooch on this trail
10. Stone Mountain Trail—20 miles
There are two options with Stone Mountain: up or around. Up is rather grueling, as it involves climbing a steep granite rock uphill for a little over a mile.
If you choose to go around, you will see a lot of historical buildings like plantations, mills, and meeting houses. The around trail is mostly level as well, so you don’t have to sweat as hard as you would if you were traveling to the observation deck on the top of the mountain.
That’s a list of just 10 of the trails inside the Atlanta perimeter I think are worthwhile. If you’re interested in taking your dog for a hike, but none of these trails interest you, don’t worry! There are more.
If you want a broader list, here are 10 Dog-Friendly Hikes around the United States.