Olmstead Linear Park is a road running haven in the center of the city. The paved path ribbons over grassy knolls and winds through towering oaks, detached from the cars hurrying down Ponce de Leon Avenue. Start at Springdale on the west end of the park, and you’ll cruise through five sections in this island of green space, each divided by low traffic cross streets. Deepdene, the longest and final section, offers the opportunity to get off the pavement as you run on a wooded tract among a steeper, cushioned landscape. At The Mead, turn around for a four mile loop.
What Makes It Great
Running the roads in Atlanta can often result in cracked, uneven sidewalks or dull views running by house after house. Olmstead Linear Park varies the view: it acts as a park-type island between Ponce de Leon Avenue and the stately mansions and school of Druid Hills. The path itself is so smooth, you could chance at running blindfolded (not recommended though). The lush green grass blankets each of the rolling sections from Springdale to Shadyside, all of which have just enough of a rise from “zero elevation” to make things interesting. When the oaks, maples and dogwoods are full of leaves in spring and summer, you’ll find that most of the run is shaded and the vegetation is beautiful with pale pinks, purples and reds. Be sure to cut into the woods of Deepdene, where you can run alongside a modest stream.
Who is Going to Love It
Road runners, particularly those training for longer distances can find plenty of options to tack on extra mileage. In the Deepdene section, you have a chance to venture into a wooded trail, tucked in its own valley. While not long in distance, it provides a nice reprieve from the pavement. Continuing out of Olmstead Linear Park after you pass Deepdene’s The Mead circle, you can follow Ponce de Leon Avenue on the sidewalk into Decatur. Or going the other direction, form a loop by tacking on the Stone Mountain Trail. This is accessible between Brightwood and Shadyside Park, off Lullwater Road. Run to Freedom Parkway for paved, steady running without traffic.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Olmstead Linear Park is just on the outer cusp of Midtown and Virginia-Highland, and from the east, Decatur. There is no real parking lot for Olmstead Linear Park, but street parking is abundant along any of its side parallel roads, except for the main artery of Ponce de Leon Avenue. At the west end of the park, snag a spot along S. Ponce de Leon Avenue or Springdale Road. If parking at the east end, N. Ponce de Leon Avenue or Barton Woods Road offers street parking. All parking is free, just adhere to the signs for special parking permits.