When spring arrives, it’s not just a welcome sight for us humans — Fido has been waiting all winter to run around outside, too, to stop and smell (and pee on) the roses. And since Atlanta is a dog-obsessed town, we know an afternoon isn’t complete without spending time with little Spot. On that note, and with inspiration from my golden retriever barking to go outside and David York from Barking Hound Village, we’re highlighting some of the best dog-friendly trails throughout Atlanta.
1750 Mount Vernon Road, Lithia Springs, GA 30122
Take I-20 West for about 25 minutes to get out of the hustle and bustle of downtown Atlanta and into one of the nicest hiking trails, Sweetwater Creek. Besides working on your fitness, your pooch will get exercise, have a chance to investigate every smell ever left on a leaf/flower/twig and perhaps meet a friend or two along the trail.
Take the wooded trail that follows the stream to the ruins of a textile mill burned during the Civil War (used in the movie Hunger Games’ Mockingjay), where you can gaze upon the rapids below. I know every breed is different, but Archie is OBSESSED with any body of water, so when it comes to watching water fowl and perhaps catching a frog, he’s definitely all in.
Here’s the best part: Throughout the year, the park offers Bark in the Park dog hikes at scheduled times, including one this Sunday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m! Hikers meet at the visitor’s center and enjoy a guided hike by a park ranger. Just keep in mind that dogs and their owners must make a reservation by calling (770) 732-5871 and pay $5 for admission and $5 for parking.
Archie’s thoughts: Don’t forget to pack a towel unless your owner likes the car smelling like wet dog!
2020 Lenox Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30306
If you’re not fortunate enough to live in the adorably sweet neighborhood of Morningside, you can still make a trip to the area by visiting Morningside Nature Preserve. There are more than 30 acres of walking, running, biking and just plain socializing trails throughout the park, including some rad bridges to really up the adventure and make your dog feel like he’s a swash-buckling pupirate (get it?).
So what makes Morningside Nature Preserve such a happy place for the four-legged crowd? There’s a dog beach! Obviously not a true beach, but the trail feeds into South Fork Peachtree Creek nestled behind wide, sandy shores (i.e. “the beach”). This is THE spot for dogs to play, swim, roll around and just be utterly adorable with each other. Once your dog has put in a few laps, take a walk on the wooden suspension bridge arcing over the creek that leads to even more hiking trails.
Archie’s thoughts: After a long day hiking along the trails, relax on the beach with a fruity “dogquiri.”
932 Akers Ridge Drive SE, Atlanta, GA 30339
Take your pooch to the ‘hooch … the Chattahoochee River that is. The river is a long, winding landmark that runs through the city of Atlanta. Though much of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area’s 48 miles is picturesque and would make a great place to spend a day, we like the West Palisades Trail to spend an afternoon with your pup. This trail, accessed by Akers Drive in Vinings, offers a four-mile loop to keep you and your pet in shape and in a great mood.
Pay $3 for a daily park pass and you can spend a fun day letting Spot wet his paws in the rushing water,
chase admire the local wildlife and get in touch with his outdoorsy, wild side. If you’re really brave (and trusting of man’s best friend), rent a canoe and sail the Chattahoochee with the world’s furriest first mate.
Archie’s thoughts: We golden retrievers live for the water, but if you’re just a beginning doggy paddler, stay close to your parents and avoid any rapids.
3787 Klondike Road, Lithonia, GA 30038
Arabia Mountain has a distinct look and feel, set within the granite mountains of Lithonia, that will center your mind and perhaps get your dog to reconnect with his inner puppy. Leashed dogs are allowed to explore this magnificent work of Mother Nature, through various hiking trails leading through the mountain and preserve, as well as the pedestrian-friendly PATH that encompasses more than 30 miles of walking/hiking/cycling space.
This area is rich in history — once home to a set of Native American tribes before settlers moved in and quarried Arabia Mountain for its abundant granite. And though your dog might not appreciate the hundreds of years of history, I’m positive he’ll enjoy inspecting the bubbling creeks, colorful wildlife and lush woodlands.
Archie’s thoughts: I sure was pooped (wocka, wocka) walking through this nature preserve — good thing my mom packed a blanket so we could take a pit stop for some much needed R&R.
Whether you hike up Arabia Mountain or take a dip in the Chattahoochee, make sure you pack appropriate supplies not just for you, but your dog as well. That means carrying enough drinking water for the both of you, avoid using a retractable leash (not great for controlling your dog on the trail), a few snacks to keep Fluffy happy and a first-aid kit to keep him healthy. Also, make sure his collar has up-to-date tags. Hit up an outdoors store like Half Moon Outfitters in Virginia-Highlands before you go to get some good hiking advice, supplies and a few recommendations about enjoying the great outdoors.
We hope you and your pet have a great time on these dog-friendly trails and make sure to snap a few shots and share them with us on Instagram.