Living in Atlanta, cycling routes are hard to come by. A combination of heavy traffic, stoplights, and a lack of respect from motorists prevent cyclists from clocking much enjoyable time in the city. But not far from the Atlanta city limits are plenty of backroads ribboning their way over rolling hills, past farmlands, and through scenic southeastern landscapes. These country rides will amp up your heart rate and help you find your cycling cadence. Whether you’re in the saddle just to build up miles or you’re prepping for the next century, let the scenery unfold on these distance rides without worrying about the stop-go nature of the city.
1. Silver Comet Trail
Total Distance: 61.5 miles
This paved trail couldn't be simpler and it makes for one of those great “zone out” weekend rides. The trail stretches west and ends at the Georgia/Alabama line near Cedartown. The ride is predominantly flat, however the first 15 miles of the trail are often crowded with recreational cyclists, walkers and runners, as well as street crossings almost every mile. Once you gain some distance, you’ll be able to build up your rhythm and enjoy the path, shaded by trees and secluded from traffic.
2. Silk Sheets
Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia
Total Distance: 44 miles
There is a reason this ride is called “Silk Sheets.” Gentle, rolling hills over well-maintained roads greet you in the Chattahoochee Hills countryside. Combine that with sprawling views of farms and low traffic, and you’ll see why the roads are populated with clusters of cyclists. Cycling groups like Atlanta Cycling meet at Campbellton United Methodist Church located at Campbellton Fairburn Road and Church Street. If you’re planning on a bike/run brick workout or want to plan a picnic after, another starting option is Cochran Mill Park .
Refuel: Take a trip to the “Old South” and enjoy a Southern buffet at the Historic Green Manor, just ten miles from the church. On Sundays, from 11:30 to 5 pm, the restaurant has an $18.50 buffet with home country cooking like mac n cheese, cornbread, baked chicken, barbecue ribs and candied yams. Perfect for replacing all those calories you lost at Silk Sheets.
3. Budweiser Plant Ride
Total Distance: Up to 100 miles
A popular fall cycling race is the Beautiful Backroads Century , but any weekend in Cartersville’s backcountry offers routes of 14 miles, 31 miles, 48 miles, 66 miles and 100 miles. Each route is well marked, and the Budweiser Plant offers free parking to cyclists on weekends. The ride is low traffic, leading cyclists through sun-speckled patches of wooded scenic roads that alternate with open sky riding next to expansive fields. Elevation gains peak to 140 feet in rolling sections, giving you a chance to soak in your surroundings as you catch your breath.
4. Stone Mountain Trail
Stone Mountain, Georgia
Total Distance: 38 miles
Beginning from Piedmont Avenue in downtown Atlanta, you can take the “Stone Mountain Trail” all the way to Stone Mountain . While the traditional out and back route is a solid 39 miles, you can tack on hilly laps around the base of the mountain. One loop is about five miles. Begin on the street for about four miles, weaving through neighborhoods in Candler Park and Clarkston before hopping on the Freedom Parkway trail. Be wary of other recreational cyclists, runners and walkers on the trail, because while you are separated from traffic, the path is still narrow.
Refuel: On your return trip, stop in the Decatur Square around mile 26 to enjoy a mid-ride beer at Brickstore Pub. The draught list offers a variety of international brews. If your legs aren’t too tired, climb the stairs to the Belgian Room for a menu full of Belgian-inspired choices.