Had another great trip to Charleston Park in Forsyth County this past weekend for our second 10K (ish) race. We’ve also been to Charleston Park to do training runs several times over the past year. This is another great mountain biking trail, but going in the early morning or after it rains a bit and bikes aren’t allowed is a great way to avoid the crowds if you want to hike or run. There is a separate parking lot for the trailhead (MTB parking lot on Google maps), as the rest of the parking lot gets crowded with people using the boat ramp and picnic benches near Lake Lanier.
The trail is essentially two loops; A shorter loop close to the parking lot and then a loop farther out. The signage is great, and again, bikes and runners/hikers should go in different directions depending on the day. There are lots of switchbacks and some great views of the lake from some of the trails. Our friends got engaged at one of these views back in the fall! There’s also a bottomland section at the furthest point from the parking lot which is shady and has lots of roots. It’s pretty awesome and just a little other-worldly.
Be careful of roots and loose rocks, but as long as you’re paying attention the trail isn’t too technical and there aren’t any non-natural features put in for mountain biking like there are at some other trails. Most of our GPS watches clocked the whole course at 5.4-5.6 miles from the parking lot for those of you looking for specific mileage.
We went to Allatoona Creek Park a couple of weeks ago for a trail run. Running there reminded me how much I love to run on mountain biking trails when they aren’t crowded. This park was definitely worth the trek outside the perimeter here in Atlanta. It is north of Kennesaw Mountain by about 15 minutes.
The Park has copious parking, restrooms, large open fields, and tons of mountain biking trails. Mountain bikes have the right of way here, but hikers and runners are more than welcome. The park hosts numerous mountain biking events and some cross country races for high schoolers in Cobb County. As always with primarily mountain biking trails, we try to get out running early in the morning to get ahead of the crowds.
We only ran a couple of the trails: “Mumbo Jumbo” and “Voodoo” which are labeled as intermediate and advanced mountain bike trails respectively. I loved the work that volunteers and the county have put into these trails. There were copious rock features that had been constructed for bikes to play on, short wooden bridges, and lots of technical turns. The trails were a bit root-filled in some places, but the footing was decent as long as we were paying attention. There were also lots of switchbacks, but it was hard to see people ahead or behind because of the undergrowth.
I would definitely recommend leaving the headphones at home so that you can hear bikes coming. The trails we ran were twisty enough that bikes weren’t flying through and there was plenty of time to step off the trail for them. Just a note to pay attention to the direction of travel for bikes and hikers/runners so you don’t get caught unawares!
I definitely want to go back and see what the other trails have to offer!