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: Southeast of downtown Atlanta, three short trails that travel around Browns Mill Golf Course, the old Lakewood Fairgrounds and Swann Nature Preserve.
Parking: There’s a PATH parking lot off of Browns Mill Road, and one near Lakewood Avenue at the other end of the trail. You can also find parking on side streets.
About the PATH: The Southtowne Trail is short — the longest chunk, about 1.5 miles, is around the Browns Mill Golf Course. The other two sections are less than a mile each. Although the three sections aren’t connected, you can easily walk between them.
The area/what you’ll see: I stuck to the section around the golf course, doing two round trips for a six-mile total. The course itself is beautiful — well-manicured and lush, and it’s surrounded by the back sides of nice homes and apartment complexes. It was kind of fun to peer into people’s backyards as I ran past, until a little overzealous beagle with a big bark behind one yard fence made me regret my wandering eye.
Hills: The golf course part of the Southtowne Trail is almost entirely flat, making it ideal for beginning runners or those who are planning to walk the PRR course. However, that same flatness can also be a hindrance for more serious runners — the back and forth to get a 10k is nice the first time, but can be a little monotonous the second time.
Where to eat post-run: There’s a lot of fast food spots in the immediate area (Chick-fil-A, Checkers), but if you’re looking for something more substantial, there’s Sweet Potato Eatery on Jonesboro Road and Walter’s Express Soul Food on Cleveland.
My take: I hadn’t been to this area of Atlanta before, so I didn’t know what to expect, but the Southtowne Trail was a very pleasant surprise. It’s probably not the right trail if you’re looking to increase your speed or work on your hills, but it’s perfect for a slow, easy run or a twilight or dusk walk. It’s clean, quiet and pretty — and everyone I passed on the trail smiled and said hello, which is a nice bonus on any run.