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Georgia is one of the best states in the South for recreational biking. Offering everything from rural countryside, to pristine coastline, forested hillsides, historic sites and vibrant Atlanta at its cultural center, there are destination trails all over the state.
For outdoor enthusiasts, the pairing of Georgia's Silver Comet Trail and Alabama's Chief Ladiga Trail is about as close to perfection as you can get in an off-road route. With a combined 94 miles, this Rail-Trail Hall of Fame winner provides a tranquil riding experience with beautiful natural surroundings within easy reach of Atlanta. History buffs will especially enjoy the Cedartown Depot, which houses an exhibit on the route’s railroad past, and the 750-foot-long Pumpkinvine Trestle built in 1901.
In a city once known as Terminus, the Atlanta BeltLine trail network is a re-envisioning of its railroad past for a new wave of pedestrian and bike-friendly urban design. The developing paved pathway, which will eventually span 33 miles and connect more than 40 neighborhoods, is currently built in a few short segments, like the Eastside Trail, which connects to Piedmont Park, the crown jewel of Atlanta's park system.
The Chattahoochee Riverwalk is an absolute jewel in Columbus. Skirting the banks of the Chattahoochee River, the paved pathway begins north of the city in neighboring Bibb City and winds south from there for 15 miles to Fort Benning. Along the way, you pass Woodruff Riverfront Park with its playground and splash pad, the National Civil War Naval Museum, the National Infantry Museum, and many interesting parks and attractions.
On Georgia's southeast coastline, the Jekyll Island Trail provides a scenic outdoor adventure. The 24-mile trail system loops around the island, largely within a state park, providing opportunities for exploring beaches, forests and the Historic Landmark District. Campgrounds and bike rentals are available, along with golf courses, shops and restaurants.
Located about 20 miles southeast of Atlanta, the Arabia Mountain Trail offers a natural escape spanning just over a dozen miles between Lithonia and Panola Mountain State Park. The paved pathway winds its way through giant rock outcroppings, past rushing streams and plunging waterfalls, and rolls along picturesque farmland and fields of wildflowers.
Beginning in the heart of Augusta, the 7.5-mile, mostly packed-dirt Augusta Canal Trail runs through wooded areas as it rolls northwest out of downtown, tucked between the historical canal and the Savannah River. Originally constructed in 1845, the waterway itself is the only unbroken, accessible industrial canal in the South. Its textile heritage is preserved in several existing period structures, including ornate Sibley Mill and a Confederate-era parapet.
Big Creek Greenway offers 20 miles of paved trail connecting the cities of Cummings, Alpharetta and Roswell, located north of Atlanta. The pathway traverses parks and forested areas, so be on the lookout for wildlife, like wild turkeys, green herons and deer.
About an hour north of Atlanta, Noonday Creek Trail provides a town and country experience. It's northern end offers shopping, restaurants and city amenities, while its southern end winds quietly under the trees along Noonday Creek. The paved pathway ends at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, a nearly 3,000-acre park that provides Civil War history and hiking opportunities.
On the east end of Savannah, the McQueen's Island Trail offers a salt-air excursion for nature lovers and history buffs alike along a 6-mile stretch of the former Savannah & Atlantic Railroad. Built in 1887, the railroad carried passengers from Savannah to Tybee Island, a popular turn-of-the-century beach resort. The gravel pathway parallels the South Channel of the Savannah River, a major shipping route and entry point to the city's port. Short bridges spirit you across saltwater marshes, and interpretive signs list the native wildlife you might see, including the American alligator, bobcat, osprey, red-tailed hawk and brown pelican.
The Rockdale River Trail offers a lovely ride of nearly 10 miles through Rockdale County, just southeast of the Atlanta metropolitan area. The paved trail is hilly and winding as it goes through heavily forested areas and rock outcroppings, and crosses several creeks and wetlands. As the route heads southeast, it passes through the Alexander Lakes region and Panola Mountain State Park, where recreational opportunities abound. The pathway ends at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, a community of monks founded in 1944, which is one of the most popular attractions in the county.
"Virginia is for Lovers" is the tourism slogan for the state, but for outdoor enthusiasts, you could also easily say that "Virginia is for Trail Lovers."
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