Trail Training: Allatoona Creek Park

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!

Trail Training: Chicopee Woods Trail System

This past weekend we did our long-ish run (8 mi) in the Chicopee Woods Trail System up in Gainesville, GA. This is part of the Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve, which also contains the Elachee Nature Center and the Chicopee Woods Mountain Bike Trails. There is a $5 daily fee ($50 annual fee) to get into the area and use the trails and dogs are not allowed anymore. There is also a fee if you want to go through the small natural history displays and museum at the Nature Center when it is open. They have a great native reptile and amphibian collection that is great for kiddos.

The hiking trails are well maintained and the scenery runs from lovely forested hills, to creeks, to bottomland, and then to a large lake on the other side of the property from the nature center. There are trails with options of 3 mi and 5 mi loops, and several shorter trails that wind around the nature center. It’s beautiful and if you get there before 10 am you’re not likely to see many folks in the winter time. In the summer, the trails get a bit more crowded and the Nature Center has summer camp programs that bring people to the area.

This is one of the more difficult sets of trails that we have experienced in the greater Atlanta area (minus the hike to the top of Kennesaw Mountain). The trail parking lot starts at a high point and all trails head downhill toward the lake. Some of the trails follow streams and are relatively flat along stretches and then climb up and down switchbacks as it follows the mountain contours. There are several areas with stairs set into the trail to facilitate uphill climbs. We tend not to run this trail very often right after all the leaves drop in the fall because it makes roots hard to see, but in all other seasons it’s easy to avoid tripping.

Highly recommend a trip up here to hike, run, or mountain bike!