Piedmont Park is Atlanta’s iconic park. It is recognized by locals and visitors as one of the city’s treasures. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy activities ranging from road running to track work to swimming, and many other outdoor recreation activities.
If there is any outdoor park that you’ll remember from Atlanta, whether you’re a local or visitor, it is most likely Piedmont Park. Atlanta’s common grounds since 1904, the park is 185 acres. There is more than 5 miles of paved terrain to discover around the park, not to mention that it connects to the Atlanta Beltline at the southeast end of the park.
Run the whole park for a 2.5 mile loop. Begin at the 12th Street gate and run clockwise First you’ll trace the northern exterior of the Active Oval. As you reach the tennis courts, take the path to the left of the tennis courts and you’ll pass by the SAGE parking garage and welcome center. This path will lead you past the Promenade, where you’ll descend the ramp at the northern end of the park. Turn right to run south as you follow the path under a bridge. Stay to the left to take the upper path. After passing the dog park, run under the second bridge (Park Avenue) and you’ll come upon the Lower Meadow. Here you’ll be on the eastern edge of the park, and this where you’ll get some good views of activities happening in the Lower Meadow. As the loop turns west up a small incline you’ll reach the Lake Loop’s wider road. The Charles Allen gate should be on your left, so cross this wide road and hop onto the Oak Hill path. You’ll ascend a brief hill and then run parallel to 10th Street. Make the first right turn todescend back toward Clara Meer and the Lake Loop. Keep to the left at the intersection by the Dockside building, and you will end up back at the 12th Street gate.
The park has several other running paths. The Lake Loop follows the wide road around Clara Meer over a constant grade for a 0.97 mile loop. The Active Oval is a 0.52 mile gravel loop, perfect for speed work or interval training. You’ll often see many sports teams playing in the center ofthe field. Along the exterior are a few sets of fitness structures, such as a pull up bar and sit-up bench.
What Makes It Great
Any time of year, any season, the path around the Lower Meadow offers stunning views of the Midtown skyline. In early mornings, you’ll sometimes see fog clinging to the tops of the buildings.
Oak Hill on the south section offers the most elevation forrunning. This trail departs from the main loop to parallel 10th Street as it circles around a sloping meadow, before rejoining by the Charles Allen gate.
Another hidden spot is “Six Springs Wetlands. It’s west of the dog park, is a short section that takes you through a wooded area of the park. Follow this north over the boardwalk to the Northwoods, a paved trail that will lead you through towering trees. The side of trail slopes off steeply into a creek bed.
Who is Going to Love It
The real question is, who won’t love it? For walkers and runners, the paved paths around the park are free of motorized vehicles and offer plenty of space, so you can easily get in a workout even during crowds.
For dog owners, Piedmont Park has two fenced-in dog parks that are nearly 3 acres: one for small dogs, one for big dogs. You can unleash your dogs, just make sure they are friendly with other dogs, because it gets crowded, specifically on evenings and weekends. You’ll find water and pet waste bags in the parks.
Piedmont Park is smack-dab in Midtown, wedged between 10th Street to the south, Monroe Drive to the east and Piedmont Avenue to the northwest. The park is free to visit, however you have to pay additional feesto gain entrance into the aquaticcenter. The park is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., but it is advised to leave at dark.
An insider tip: check for street parking before paying. The best roads to search on the south side are Orme Circle, Park Drive, Elm Circle, Amsterdam Avenue, Cresthill Avenue, Coolidge Avenue, Kanuga Street and Virginia Avenue. On the north side, 12th Street, 13th Street, 15th Street and The Prado (all closest to Piedmont Road) are the best options.
For the closest access, and the best option on crowded weekends, park in the SAGE parking deck. The cost is free for the first 30 minutes, $1 for every additional 30 minutes and the maximum daily rate is $15.
There are several restroom facilities around the park: near Greystone, Noguchi Playscape, Magnolia Hall, the dog park, at the Charles Allengate, and at the tennis center. Restrooms are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
It is best to avoid the park during certain festivals, such as Music Midtown, The Atlanta Dogwood Festival, and the Peachtree Road Race.