This paved trail ribbons along Rottenwood Creek for an uninterrupted 4-mile out and back rolling hill run in Vinings. The run is ideal for a short, mellow nature run without the worry of typical trail terrain.
A runner finds joy in a paved trail run-off the sidewalk, away from roads- allowing for the sheer simplicity of movement. You only need to focus on moving your feet and steadying your breathing. That’s the kind of run you’ll experience on the West Palisades trail.
The Rottenwood Creek trail and Bob Callan trail link together for a total distance of 4 miles out and back. By beginning at Paces Mill Boat Ramp, the Rottenwood Creek trail is flat, giving your body a chance to warm up. During fall and winter, it can seem as if you’re running on off-road terrain, because a layer of packed leaves span across the trail. Deciduous trees speckle shade across the path for a welcome relief in the warmer months.
At mile 0.8, a series of steeper inclines unfold before you, steadily carrying you higher above the creek and out of the shade of the trees. The climb fizzles out into a gradual decline toward Akers Mill Drive. At mile 1.6 a trail sign notifies you of the transition to Bob Callan trail, under the Cumberland Parkway bridge. Continue on this paved path to the 2-mile turnaround point at Akers Mill parking lot.
What Makes It Great
At mile 0.4, you have the option to run off-road on West Palisades’ dirt trails. The trail begins as a lollipop formation, but a long stem from WP 4 to WP 8 dart you to the back half of the trails, where you’ll find a short loop and figure 8 trail. Another parking lot, at Akers Drive S.E. is here, as well as bathroom facilities. Follow WP 7 to WP 11 to cling to the Chattahoochee River’s shore, where you’ll see paddlers navigating through the shoals.
Rottenwood Creek offshoots from the Chattahoochee River and flows beside the trail for a majority of the run. The pristine natural beauty of its gentle waters radiate to the path you are running on, releasing stress as if it were the moisture steaming from the pavement after a summer storm. The banks begin to slope steeply as the trail elevates, but to your right you can see the creek carve out a valley.
You’ll traverse over multiple bridges leapfrogging back and forth over Rottenwood Creek. One of the more scenic bridges is shortly after mile 1; you can see the bridge from the crest of your first hill, and as you glide downhill toward the bridge you’ll see the makings of a miniature creek waterfall formed by rounded rocks. The trail also ironically dips under a Cumberland Parkway’s traffic bridge swiping in a sharp “C” shape, where it turns to Bob Callan Trail. On the return trip, back as the hills ribbon to carry you back toward the creek’s banks.
Who is Going to Love It
The casual day walker, stroller moms and dog walkers flock to this trail for its serene natural beauty and smooth, paved surface. During lunch hour, sometimes you’ll even see business employees out for a quick stroll.
For the runner, the trail is marked intermittently with distances and uninterrupted for the first 2-miles out, so it is easy to incorporate a speed workout into your run.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
This portion of the paved trail can be accessed in two locations: south at the Paces Mill Boat Ramp and north at Interstate North Parkway.
Ample parking is available at Paces Mill, and a $3 parking fee is required, which can be paid in cash or credit. Bathrooms are available here. This is the lot closest to the off-road trail portion of West Palisades.
If you park at Akers Mill, the lot is small with no more than 10 spaces, but the benefit is that you will get out of the parking fee. There are no bathrooms at this trail head. Parking is easy to come by during the weekday late mornings and early afternoons.