Imagine smooth road riding under towering pines, over bridges and between rock cliffs uninterrupted by traffic. That’s the beauty of the Silver Comet Trail, a 61.5 mile paved trail that stretches from Smyrna to the Georgia/Alabama line in Cedartown. It’s one of the longest multi-use bike and pedestrian paths in Atlanta.
The Silver Comet Trail was previously a rail line service from 1897 to 1989, when it was abandoned until Georgia DOT purchased the land to turn it into the path it is today. Construction was completed in 2008.
What Makes It Great
Uninterrupted cycling is hard to find in Atlanta, so this is a welcomed treat for those looking for a long ride. The pavement is well maintained, smooth and generally free of tree branches, unless you go right after a heavy storm.
A minimal two percent grade gives you some gradual gain and rolling hills on the way out, making you feel a little faster on the return route. The path is 12 feet wide, so while there is room to ride two deep, it is advised to cycle single file so that traffic can flow easily in both directions.
For the first 10 miles, there are many street crossings where cyclists will need to slow down and potentially stop for traffic. The trail has several places where you can stop and rest at picnic tables, check your bike at a shop or purchase snacks.
The first of these trailside hubs is at Floyd Road where you’ll find a worn brick building that houses the Silver Comet Cycles bike shop. They offer bike rentals for youth bikes, hybrids, carbon fiber road bikes and full suspension mountain bikes. Basic bike shop snacks like energy bars and gels are found here.
Once you pass mile 11 at Florence Road, the road crossings thin out and crowds become sparse. Now you can focus on the views of red clay cliffs, railroad tunnels and shaded pines. The stretch from mile 22 to mile 33 is rural and journeys through the Paulding Wildlife Management Area, with no road crossings or amenities, so make sure you are prepared with water.
After this bare spot, the town of Rockmart from the Coots Lake trailhead to Nathan Deal trailhead is a thriving hub, where you’ll find plenty of parking areas, dining options and restrooms. The Riverwalk Trail curves through this part of the Silver Comet Trail and foot traffic heavily increases, but the river adds to the scenic brick bridges and statues. If you’ve made it this far, stop at Frankie’s Italian restaurant, a rustic, family-owned eatery that will satisfy you with filling selections of pastas, 8-inch subs or the classic Italian chicken Parmesan meal.If you ride the whole 61.5 mile trail, you’ll have passed through three counties- Cobb, Paulding and Polk- and you’ll have ridden from Georgia to Alabama.
Around mile 8, Wildhorse Creek is visible after traveling under one of the Silver Comet railroad trestles. There is a 2 mile wooded trail if you want to detour to overlook the wetlands of Wildhorse and Noses Creeks. A parking lot is available here at Carter Road. 3 miles down the path is the Lucille Creek Trail, another short one-mile detour off the main trail.
Just before the remote stretch in Paulding, a last reprieve is the Rambo Road trailhead in Dallas. 0.7 miles west is the Pumpkinvine Creek, where a 750 foot long trestle has benches to rest.
After Coot’s Beach Trailhead in Rockmart, you’ll ride under the 800-foot railroad tunnel at mile 35. Coot’s Lake Beach is a modest inland beach, and to cyclists who have peddled this far, it’s an oasis for a refreshing dip. The lake is open to swim from Memorial Day to Labor Day for $5 per adult.
And you know how we said it’s a minimal 2 percent grad? That changes after mile 45. Surprise Hill, aptly named, is a steep hill that rises 300 feet. This primes you for rolling hills for the next 5 miles, where you’ll ride the path beside Georgia’s red clay mounds.
Your journey ends at Esom Hill Trailhead, where the arch for Chief Ladiga trail begins at State Line Gateway. This 0.3 mile trek allows you to continue onto this 33 mile trail, if you desire. The combined trail distance is 94.5 miles one way.
Who is Going to Love It
Riders of all levels - the choice is yours how far you want to pedal.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The official trail begins at the intersection of South Cobb Drive and the East-West Connector in Smyrna, however the trailhead is where you’ll find free parking, restrooms and drinking water. It is located off Mavell Drive, tucked behind Nickajack Elementary School. From I-285, take South Cobb Drive, turn left on Cooper Lake Road and left onto Mavell Road.
The trail is open from dawn to dusk. Due to the seclusion and lack of lighting, the buddy system is recommended for early morning and evening workouts.