On an early morning run at Sope Creek, you’ll feel you’re the only person alive. The woods are quiet, except for the occasional scrambling of squirrels as the sound of your footsteps quakes them from tree to tree when you pass. Many of the trails are shared with mountain bikers, so they are wide and the climbs are gradual. This is one of those trails that won’t wear on you, and it’s perfect for a long run, especially if you follow the trail to the south corner at SC 24 and tack on the Cochran Shoals trail system.
The main outer loop is 1.5 miles, where you can follow the perimeter of the trail across valley shelves and down across creek beds. In the summer or after rain, some portions of the trail can be muddy in these sections. You’ll find yourself cruising on the mountain bike portions of the trail, particularly if you travel counter-clockwise because it’s a steady decline. However the portions of the trails that are off-limits to mountain bikers involve single track and heavier, gradual climbs.
What Makes It Great
Right from the main parking lot, take the main mountain bike trail to Sibley Pond. Small in size, it’s an oasis for ducks, turtles and other forest critters. From Sibley Pond, a tributary runs east to Sope Creek, creating a valley on the west side of the trails. You’ll have an opportunity to cross this creek bed twice if you take the side trails.
As you run the shelves of the southern portion of the trail, you can see Fox Creek below you, especially when the trees are thinner in the winter. The water is typically a dull blue, providing a contrast from the brown woods around you.
Throughout the run, you’ve heard the gentle rush of Sope Creek, so be sure to make the diversion down to its banks from SC 27. Here you’ll see the X shoals where the stark contrast of white-washed rocks pops out from the rushing water. In the summer, turtles and wildlife are seen lounging on the banks, and a quick dip in the creek provides a reprieve from the heat.
Who is Going to Love It
The trail runner will find the main outer loop, similar to the mountain bike trails, to be easy on the legs both for terrain and hills. The steeper, longer inclines can be avoided by sticking to the perimeter of the trail. Bring your dog to Sop Creek’s banks where they can enjoy romping in the shallow waters.
For mountain bikers, Sope Creek’s trails are easy to navigate and are not very technical. The terrain is predominantly dirt and red clay, with minimal rock hopping. Still, you’ll find a few dips and creek crossings fun, and forgiving c-shaped turns.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Like the other trails in the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area, the $3 parking fee is necessary, and must be paid in cash-only. The gravel lot is easy to find and visible from Paper Mill Road in Marietta.