I recently set out to route several long distance, bike-friendly routes near and around North Atlanta to support my urban Atlanta training for a 100 mile century. Google Maps painted me a hopeful picture with clusters of miles upon miles of green bike-friendly trails, roads, and even dedicated lanes around the metro Atlanta region. The reality? I was pleasantly surprised.
In all, I was able to patch together a 45+ mile mostly bike-friendly course starting in Brookhaven, heading north towards Roswell, turning back through Vinings, then heading east through north Buckhead to end back in Brookhaven. Let’s start with the positive.
3 Best Things about Bicycling North Atlanta
1: 60% of dedicated bicycle lanes
North Atlanta has come a long, long way in terms of dedicated bike lanes in the past decade — it was surprising to see how many miles of road had designated bike lanes, and signage to “Share the Road”! Sure, all of the bike-friendly sections required traversing some not bike-friendly roads, but Atlanta must have been in a good mood today because I only had bad encounters in one area (You suck, Vinings).
A tip of the hat to Lower Roswell Road — not only do you have well-groomed, designated bike lanes running both directions, but you have a sidewalk and wide asphalt pedestrian path. Remarkable, Roswell!
2: Bob Callan PATH trail
Just north of Vinings was a two-mile scenic surprise with the Bob Callan PATH multi-use trail. It meanders along the Chattahoochee River and Rottenwood Creek waterways. It ends/starts in the Paces Mill / West Palisades park; I recognized starting ‘Shoot the Hooch’ tubing here as a kid. The PATH was plenty hilly, and even had two “speed ramps” one one hill, which I used to joyfully ramp my bike into the air, hooting and hollering like a kid again. I plan to return to walk the trail and take some of the hiking trail spurs.
3: Mt. Paran Country Store
As we cycling along the neighborhood-heavy Mount Paran road, out popped this old looking wood paneled building. A sign out front read “Mnt Paran Country Store, Established 1906″ — and boy did it feel like something out of the country! Outside were two gas pumps — I didn’t see the price per gallon. I headed inside and refreshed myself with some soda water and shared a peanut chocolate bar with my wife while we talked with a neighborhood lady about our shared fondness for Buddy scooters, one of which she had parked outside.
3 Worst Things about Bicycling North Atlanta
1, 2, and 3: Vinings
What is wrong with the drivers in Vinings? After 45 miles of road time, I had multiple bad experiences with drivers around there. The worst was coming up a Paces Mill Road SE, which is a challenging but short hill with no shoulder or sidewalk on the uphill side. Car after car whizzed by us giving us what felt like one foot. I responded by taking up more of my lane — a legal action — to which cars would illegally pass around blind bends in the road (see photo below).
Even as we drove away from Vinings down Paces Ferry Road — again, no designated bike lanes — the drivers would speed by without giving the legal three feet. Vinings, you suck for not having bike lanes, and many of your drivers are douches.
North Atlanta Bicycle Route (45 miles and up)
Linked below is the route I took. You could modify it to easily and add hundreds of mile by taking Lower Roswell across to Big Creek Park, which connects to a protected greenway that extends 25 miles north, ending just shy of Cummings, Georgia. Or, you could head west to connect with the Silver Comet PATH and cruise 90 miles into Alabama.