Oakland Cemetery: running in Atlanta’s historic garden cemetery

Run or walk Atlanta’s historic Oakland Cemetery for a photo-worthy, historic urban adventure with beautiful skyline views.

trail info

1.8 miles
(round trip)
paved
Dog-
friendly

LOCATION:in Atlanta, Georgia (maps & directions)

GEAR: Mizuno Wave Rider running shoes, Canon 6D Camera

Historic Oakland Cemetery blankets a 48-acre expanse of planted gardens, shady pathways and gently rolling trails, nestled between Atlanta’s charming Grant Park and Cabbagetown neighborhoods. It offers visitors a glimpse of Atlanta’s historic southern charm, beautiful architecture, museum-worthy statuary and an enormous diversity of plants and trees staged in a Victorian-era garden cemetery.

Urban adventure: walk or run Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta through historic gardens with skyline views

Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery: the run

Beauty. Tranquility. History. Architecture. Oakland is a cemetery, but so much more: it’s a museum of Atlanta’s past, it’s Atlanta’s third-largest green space, and it’s a gorgeous garden. And it’s free. We left wondering why we hadn’t visited before – and we bet you will, too.

Miles of pathways and trails wind through historical terraced walls shaded by over a thousand trees, some nearly 200 years old. Some stretch tall into the sky, their canopy broad and shady, while some drape toward the ground, their leafy branches blowing like mourning shawls in a breeze. The trails are a fantastic destination for a walk or run in any season: it’s open (and beautiful) year-round. But the cemetery especially visit-worthy in springtime, when blooms erupt throughout the gardens, a beautiful contrast to a graveyard’s ordinarily solemn tone.

Atlanta's Oakland Cemetery is on the  National Register of Historic Places, and a vibrant gathering place for everything from picnics to guided tours, festivals and events and even a cemetery run

Founded in 1850 as the Atlanta Cemetery, the grounds were later renamed for an abundance of oak trees across the acreage. It’s now on the National Register of Historic Places, and a vibrant gathering place for everything from picnics to guided tours, festivals and events, and even a cemetery run, the Run Like Hell 5k.

This place’s visual beauty is full of contrast – between old and new, life and death, natural and architectural, simple and opulent. Architecturally-notable, extravagant and ornate crypts, statues and monuments are as numerous as simple, weather-worn grave markers on the grounds. Potter’s field, on the cemetery’s eastern edge, is home to 7500 unmarked graves in a gently-sloped grass-covered field. And the towering, modern Atlanta skyline towers on the near horizon, a modern backdrop to the cemetery’s history.

Run Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta's historic garden cememetery filled with blooms, statues and history

Thousands of Confederate soldiers (and a handful of Union) are interred at Oakland Cemetery, their straightforward markers arranged in military-like, geometric rows.

Thousands of Confederate soldiers (and a handful of Union) are interred at Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta

And in the Confederate memorial grounds, the Lion of Atlanta, an 1894 monument to 3,000 unknown Confederate soldiers on these grounds, depicts the lion of courage mortally wounded by a spear over the battle flag of the Confederacy. Nearby, a towering obelisk pierces the sky, a monument to Confederate soldiers. When it was built, the obelisk was, incredibly, the tallest structure in Atlanta.

A towering obelisk at Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta pierces the sky, a monument to Confederate soldiers

And the horticultural beauty of Oakland Cemetery is just stunning. Volunteers maintain the gardens, and the cemetery’s manicured beauty is a testament to their work and dedication. As it once was in the Victorian era, the cemetery is now again a place for gardening, gathering, reflection, and community – and a beautiful, green backdrop for a great run, walk or a relaxing day in the outdoors. It’s a must-see for visitors and Atlanta residents alike, and worthy of a visit in every season.

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Oakland Cemetery Running Trail Map, Directions & Details

Oakland Cemetery Running Trail Map
Oakland Cemetery Running Trail Map
This map is not a substitute for official trail maps or topographic maps.

Driving Directions


Parking

Free, but limited, parking is available in a small, unpaved Oakland Cemetery lot on Oakland Avenue. On fair-weather weekends, expect to street park in the surrounding neighborhoods, or take public transportation.

GPS Coordinates

33.748071, -84.375153     //     N33 44.884 W84 22.509

Please Remember

Always leave no trace, tell someone where you're going, pack safety and wayfinding essentials, don't rely on a mobile phone to find your way, and follow these trail etiquette tips.

Elevation Profile

Oakland Cemetery Running Trail Elevation Profile
Eric Champlin is a writer and photographer who loves to hike, run, backpack, kayak and cycle the southeast. He’s the editor and founder of Atlanta Trails and Asheville Trails, online magazines that cover the South’s best outdoor adventures. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.