The AJC Peachtree Road Race is approaching, and you need nice places to train. There’s no better place to start than with Atlanta’s PATHs, a trail system that travels throughout metro Atlanta. Over the next few weeks leading up to July 4, we take a look at the miles of paved paths that form the PATH trail system and tell you what you need to know about using them to get ready. For more information on the PATH Foundation and to check out all the PATH trails in metro Atlanta, visit pathfoundation.org.
Location: Freedom Parkway through Candler Park (MAP)
Parking: Parking lots on various access points throughout the trail, including one at Martin Luther King, Jr. Center off of Jackson Parkway; Carter Center off of Freedom Parkway; City of Decatur parking lot off of Sycamore Street between Mile 7 and Mile 8; and Stone Mountain Park.
There is also often parking on side streets close to the trail — I found parking for this chunk of the path on John Wesley Dobbs Avenue, one block south of Freedom Parkway.
About the PATH: The 19 mile-long Stone Mountain Trail begins at Piedmont Ave in downtown Atlanta and ends at Stone Mountain affording access to Stone Mountain Park.
The portion I did — about a 6-mile loop — starts at Boulevard and Freedom Park, goes south on Freedom Parkway to Moreland Avenue, runs through Freedom Park, past the Candler Park Golf Course, past Veritas Church, onto Ponce De Leon NE, onto S Ponce De Leon NE and back past the church.
The area/what you’ll see: The Freedom Parkway is a nice blend of greenery and grittiness. If you’re a city mouse, you’ll like the first and last quarters of the run down the Freedom Parkway, complete with views of the traffic, a funky mural just south of Highland and some questionable characters hanging out under underpasses (don’t worry, they’re harmless).
The middle half of the run will give you a brief reprieve from urban-ness, with the nicely manicured green spaces of Freedom Park and flowers planted along the golf course.
Hills: Lots of rolling hills throughout the course, with some rough ones coming back north through Freedom Park. Not for the beginning runner.
Where to eat post-run: Lots of good spots along the route you can use to motivate yourself to get the run over with so you can dig into something tasty. In addition to Condesa Coffee on Boulevard, which is great for post-run coffee and sandwiches, there’s a cluster of delicious options on Highland, inlcluding Highland Bakery, Across the Street, Jack’s Pizza and Wings and P’Cheen.
My take: This is one of my favorite 10K routes in Atlanta for its mix of grass and concrete, and the variation in the scenery. It can get crowded on the weekend, and you’ll have to share the trail with cyclists, but dodging people can actually prepare you for the AJC Peachtree Road Race.