If you’re a runner, you know it’s not just a fabulous way to sweat out stress, boost endorphins and strengthen your quads, but also a great way to get the lay of the land in an unfamiliar town. Why not burn some calories while you scope out spots to stuff your face with cheese grits later in the morning?
Lace up your sneaks and check out these scenic jogging routes in Atlanta’s fun-loving and tree-centric Intown (metro-area) neighborhoods:
Atlanta Beltline Eastside Trail
When the city began construction on this urban walking path, Atlantans couldn’t have been more excited — and for good reason. In a city with abundant traffic, a dedicated trail for walking, running, biking and skating is no small thing.
It doesn’t hurt that delicious food spots with outdoor patios, coffee shops, parks and art installations line the trail. Plus, it’s the yellow brick road from one amazing food hall (Krog Street Market) to another (Ponce City Market).
The Route: Start at Krog Street Market in the Inman Park neighborhood. Check out the food hall before you take off, as you may want to return later for dumplings or falafel. Also note the beautifully restored Victorian houses nearby; they’re the heart and soul of the Inman Park neighborhood. Now cross Irwin Street to hop on the Beltline trail and start jogging north.
The 1.9-mile stretch between Irwin Street and Piedmont Park is marked by native wildflowers, skaters flipping their boards at the Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark, the looming and epic Ponce City Market, restaurant patios and Ultimate Frisbee players.
The reward at the end of your two miles is Piedmont Park, a lush green space filled with oaks and set against the backdrop of the gleaming Midtown skyline.
Piedmont Park Trail
If you’d like to extend your Beltline Eastside Trail jog (or go for a separate loop inside the park), a paved path winds through the park, taking you by its picnic-worthy meadow, an enormous dog park, duck-friendly lake, artistic playscape designed by renowned sculptor Isamu Noguchi and a running track.
Piedmont Park is meticulously maintained and an ideal locale for a romantic picnic or a barbecue with friends. It’s also the site of many festivals, concerts and a Saturday morning farmers’ market — so plan to return for more fun.
Atlanta Beltline Northside Trail
While portions of the Beltline trail have been built, others are under construction — and still others are in planning stages. So although it will eventually make a complete loop around the city, right now you can only enjoy it in sections, such as the 1-mile-long (1.6-km) Northside Trail in Atlanta’s affluent Collier Hills area (just north of Midtown).
To find the trail, take Peachtree Road and head west on 26th Street, then hang a right on Goodson Lane.
The Northside Trail is a bit more zen than its Eastside counterpart; it takes you through the quiet Tanyard Creek Park, under a historic train trestle, along historic Bobby Jones Golf Club and through an area dubbed Cathedral Woods. If trees are your thing — it’s certainly Atlanta’s — then this is your Intown jogging trail.
Freedom Park Trail
The long and skinny Freedom Park lies just east of downtown, and features vast swaths of perfectly mowed grass throughout its 200 acres (81 hectares). Its paved path takes runners by the Carter Center (and its Saturday Freedom Farmers’ Market) and is close to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. It can also be used to access the Beltline Eastside Trail — perfect if you’d like to combine it with your Eastside Trail and Piedmont Park runs.
At the west end of the park trail nearest to downtown, be sure to check out the panoramic view of downtown Atlanta on the Jackson Street Bridge and the Homage to King sculpture. At the other end of the trail you’ll find a red sculpture called Tree of Life and a bird and butterfly garden, as well as the lovely neighborhood of Candler Park.
North Highland Avenue
This is a road route, rather than a designated trail, but one that will give you a front-row seat to the beautiful Craftsman bungalows found in this area.
The route is simple, relatively flat and involves one road: North Highland Avenue. Start at Morningside Village (at the corner of North Highland and University Drive), where you’ll find a small cluster of shops and restaurants as well as another Saturday farmers’ market.
As you continue south for 2.5 miles (4 km) on North Highland, you’ll jog by alternating rows of lovely homes and clusters of shops and restaurants through the Virginia-Highland, Poncey-Highland and Inman Park neighborhoods, until you reach the trendy Inman Park village at the intersection of North Highland and Elizabeth Street.
If you want to extend your run, you can hop on the Eastside Trail (it’s right here!) and keep on on jogging.