Flat walking paths/walk options in Atlanta / North Fulton area?
April 19, 2021 6:24 PM   Subscribe

My SO had surgery last fall and has just finished a long-term course of physical therapy, but to keep up his recovery he needs to take regular walks. However, he can only handle short walks on flat terrain.

We relocated to the northern end of Sandy Springs right before the pandemic hit and are still not all that familiar with the area, but we drive around a lot. We've seen a lot of lovely parks in different towns but the terrain is so hilly around here it's been hard to find good flat options. (Also our neighborhood is very hilly, which rules out just strolling out the front door.) So far the Abernathy Greenway has been one good option, but we'd like to find more places to explore. We also don't know very much about the Atlanta Beltline -- any particularly flat stretches anyone could recommend?

SO can comfortably walk for about a quarter mile at a time, but with rest could go further, so a longer walk that has ample benches for rests is also good. Also, easy car/parking access -- if the walk from the car to the walking path is too long or too hilly, that would be a problem.
posted by leticia to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total)
Best answer: The Atlanta BeltLine is a former railway corridor so it is, by definition, very flat. I'm most familiar with the section starting around Krog Street Market, through Inman Park, up toward the Carter Center and the Old Fourth Ward, all of which is very nice and leafy and has lots of galleries, restaurants, and beer gardens along the way. It's very popular and can be a bit crowded at times, but I definitely recommend it for a nice walk.
posted by theory at 6:42 PM on April 19, 2021 [6 favorites]

Best answer: The Big Creek Greenway might suit.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:46 PM on April 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

The Botanical Garden may fit the bill in terms of flatness and proximity to parking. Over time your SO might be able to walk some of Piedmont Park -- the loop around the lake is the flattest, but it's further away from the lot.
posted by holgate at 7:21 PM on April 19, 2021

Not sure what the parking situation is these days, but the walk around Lullwater at Emory is pretty flat.
posted by deludingmyself at 9:34 PM on April 19, 2021

Seconding the Beltline. I'm most familiar with the section starting near Piedmont Park.

The Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve is also pretty flat. It may be a little trickier to find.
posted by Schmucko at 12:10 AM on April 20, 2021

Not sure what the parking situation is these days, but the walk around Lullwater at Emory is pretty flat.

If there is any public parking you can use in the VA hospital lot, then that is at roughly the same elevation as the lake, and of the path around it that you are thinking of. I think there may be some kind of paved path coming from the VA, that crosses the creek and then joins that lake perimeter path. Parking in the public deck of the Emory Clairmont campus (this would be my normal recommendation), or in a deck on Clifton Road or Haygood Drive, would entail walking downhill to reach that lake.
posted by thelonius at 4:19 AM on April 20, 2021

This photo (via Emory Historian blog) shows, beyond the (still partially-standing!) tower, the pasture where the VA Hospital was later built. I think there may be a path from this point to the VA parking lot too, although the one I was thinking of above would be on the other side of the lake.
posted by thelonius at 4:28 AM on April 20, 2021

Best answer: Close to you, the Roswell Riverwalk is lovely and very flat. It intersects several parks, so there are lots of places to stop and rest.

In addition to the Beltline, there are other rail trails in the area that are similarly flat. To the west, the Silver Comet Trail is now over 60 miles long, but you could pick any one of a number of short walks. To the east, they've just completed a lot of work on the Cricket Frog Trail.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:37 AM on April 20, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Atlanta Trails is a great resource — you can search specifically by trails marked "easy" which tend to be flat and paved, or you can use the map search to scope out what's nearby. Look for trails that note a river or lake as a feature, as they're more likely to be flat.

Cochran Shoals is a great starter option on the north side — it's mostly paved, with some gravel or dirt offshoot loops at a couple of points. It does tend to get busy on the weekends.

If you're willing to travel a bit further, there are more options to the south (further from the North GA mountains = flatter trails). Constitution Lakes is partly paved, partly boardwalk, and has a really fun off-road portion with the Doll's Head Trail artwork. Arabia Mountain's trail is really lovely and might be a good option as your partner progresses, because the elevation changes are very gentle.

Not mentioned in Atlanta Trails or other comments:

Olmsted linear park, which is mostly in Decatur. Mostly paved and has flat portions.

The PATH trail system is all paved, though it exists in chunks throughout the city so putting a loop together can be tricky.
posted by fifthpocket at 6:59 AM on April 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Murphey Candler Park has a trail going around the lake - the lake parts are flat. The back part of the loop is a little less flat but he could just turn back.

A bit further afield, Suwanee Greenway or Ivy Creek Greenway.

A non-recommendation that might turn up in your search: Brook Run Park in Dunwoody has a nice walking path but it's pretty hilly.

Seconding Atlanta Trails as a good resource for this sort of thing. It looks like they have a running trails section which will probably be less hilly than the "hiking" trails.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:05 AM on April 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: As hydroscope mentioned, ABSOLUTELY check out Roswell Riverwalk. It is exactly what you're looking for- close by and one of the few local options that is truly just flat. The best part is the westernmost section on the alltrails linked map; you're on a boardwalk walking over wetands and it's very scenic. This whole section is relatively new (less than 10 years old) and there's easy parking not far from where Azaela drive bends heading towards Wileo.
posted by andruwjones26 at 1:46 PM on April 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Update: after getting all this great feedback here (thanks!!), the Roswell Riverwalk, Murphy Candler Park, the Silver Comet Trail, and the Big Creek Greenway were all on the short list to check out. We started with the Roswell Riverwalk and it was such a hit we've been there half a dozen times and haven't tried out any other others yet. :)

We also discovered that in addition to parking on Azalea Dr at Azalea Park (about a .25 mile walk to the actual boardwalk part that veers away from the road), we can also drive to Willeo Park (near the rotary at Lower Roswell Rd) and park there for access to the part of the trail that is boardwalk but goes alongside Willeo Rd. The Azalea Dr access is nice because part of the walk is away from the road; on the other hand, from the Willeo Rd access there are more resting spots with benches, which is good for someone who needs to take breaks.
posted by leticia at 1:02 PM on May 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

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