7 Ways to Get Outside in Atlanta this Fall
The crispness of fall comes as a welcome relief to the summer heat in Atlanta. Autumn is a time when the weather is perfectly moderate and the air feels amazingly fresh in this city. Take advantage of the break from Georgia’s intense temps and get outside — and often. Here are seven great ways to have fun outdoors in Atlanta and nearby while the forecasts are nothing but calm and cool.
1. Hike Stone Mountain.
Amazing views from the summit of Stone Mountain make this trek worth the effort. (📷 Eric Epps)
The massive carved monadnock and the 3,200 acres around it remain one of Georgia’s most popular outdoor attractions. Most locals remember riding the cable car as a kid and can name at least a couple songs in the soundtrack to the longstanding nighttime laser show at Stone Mountain Park. Climbing up the mountain itself is basically a rite of passage. There are six trails of varying difficulties and lengths to get you to there. On the 2-mile Songbird Habitat Trail, you’ll hear the chirping of Eastern Bluebirds and Northern Cardinals. The shorter Nature Garden Trail is especially scenic in the fall and connects to the 5-mile Cherokee Trail, the longest of the Stone Mountain paths.
2. Traverse the Chattahoochee River.
Catch the changing fall colors from a different perspective as you paddle down the Chattahoochee River. (📷 Alan Cressler)
There are a few ways to run the length of the Chattahoochee River and several spots to enter. Start around Azalea Park in Roswell where you can rent a kayak, stand-up paddleboard or canoe for your adventure. It’s important to note that there are rambunctious stretches with Class I and Class II rapids further up north at Island Ford, but most of the river is calm and allows for long looks at the changing colors of the landscape around you.
3. Follow the Silver Comet Trail.
Run, bike or hike your way along the Silver Comet Trail. (📷 Flickr user 7263255)
Built on abandoned railroad lines, the fully paved Silver Comet Trail clocks in at a whopping 61.5 miles and runs from Smyrna to the Alabama state line. This is a peaceful trek, and the trail passes over creeks, through small towns and by a restored railroad depot. The trail is for non-motorized activities and is great for anything from zooming on a Rollerblade to biking, running or walking. Around the Dallas area, there are even farms that rent their horses for riding on the grassy stretch alongside the trail.
4. Gauge your hiking guts at Tallulah Gorge.
The Sliding Rock Trail at Tallulah Gorge State Park will even have the hearts of thrill seekers pumping. (📷 Alexa Lampasona)
Within two hours of the city is a hike that is absolutely not for the faint of heart: the Sliding Rock Trail at Tallulah Gorge State Park. The Tallulah Gorge in northern Georgia has plenty of offerings for folks of all levels, but thrill-seeking hikers will go nuts for the strenuous 3.4-mile Sliding Rock Trail challenge. In fact, you have to take a safety class before you get a pass to head out on it. To start, you must brace yourself along a skinny, swaying suspension bridge, then descend more than 600 stairs to the gorge floor 1,000 feet below. The trail isn’t clearly defined, which leaves a bit of room for interpretation, but there’s no doubt you’ll crawl through slippery, rocky waters, then climb over boulders and through crevices along the way. You know you’ve succeeded in conquering the trail once you reach the giant sliding rock.
5. Explore the Atlanta BeltLine.
The popular Atlanta BeltLine is a great way to get outside and enjoy the cool air of fall. (📷 Daniel Lobo)
The Atlanta BeltLine is a project that is still in the works — it ultimately will hit 33 miles and link 45 in-town neighborhoods — but there already are four fully accessible trails perfect for running, walking or biking. The Eastside Trail is hands-down the most popular and runs from Piedmont Park to Inman Park and Old Fourth Ward. If you’re looking to get the most fall colors on the BeltLine, though, try the Northside Trail through Tanyard Creek Park, which you can enter on Collier Road between Peachtree Street and Northside Drive. The trail was designed to preserve historic growth, so you’ll see plenty of beautiful fall foliage along the way.
6. Hike the Cascade Springs Natural Reserve Trail.
A hike along the Cascade Springs Natural Reserve Trail makes you feel like you’re miles away from the city when you actually haven’t even left it. The natural oasis of Cascade Springs on the city’s southwest side has 120 acres of green space and contains some of the oldest forests in Atlanta. In addition the area is home to the babbling Utoy creek, multiple small streams, impressive boulders and, ultimately, a rumbling waterfall surrounded by beautiful English ivy. Deer, birds and turtles populate the whole reserve and make this trail one of the most genuine and special outdoor trail experiences in Atlanta.
7. Spend an afternoon (outside the perimeter) at an Alpaca Farm.
Awww…how can you resist visiting an alpaca farm and petting this cute face? (📷 Aden Davies)
The number of alpaca farms just outside the perimeter of Atlanta is a bit bewildering, but a lot of fun. Fewer than two hours away from downtown — many closer to just one — are havens for the fluffy llama-like creatures. At family-run businesses like Macon’s Yellow Rock Farm and Southern Estate, visitors are encouraged to pet and even smooch the gentle, undeniably adorable alpacas.
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