Run or cycle the Silver Comet Trail in metro Atlanta. Flat, fast, paved and scenic, the trail’s first 20 miles make a great venue for a distraction-free, long-range run or bike ride.
LOCATION:in metro Atlanta, Georgia
PACK:our Osprey day pack and our hiking gear list
No cars. Few hills. And mile after blissful mile of paved, smooth trail that just begs for a long-distance workout.
The Silver Comet Trail is one of Georgia’s top trails for running, walking, cycling, or skating. It’s an epic-length, 61.5-mile trail that spans from the Atlanta suburbs in Smyrna to the Alabama border. The rail-trail follows the corridor of an upscale passenger railway that ran through this scenic swath of Georgia landscape in the mid-1900s.
Today, the smooth, paved trail follows a nearly level grade, thanks to the railway’s deep-cut channels, towering train trestles and shallow tunnels. Hills on the trail are gradual, and the trail runs nearly straight, following a beeline direction with gentle curves. Limited street crossings make for a great, distraction-free, long-distance run or cycle on the trail. And the sights are scenic, ranging from heavily-wooded forest to grassy farmland to suburban neighborhoods.
The trail’s first twenty miles are one of our favorite cycling trips in metro Atlanta: it’s a great, go-as-far-as-you-want, level ride. But with plentiful trailheads and unlimited turnaround points, it’s easy to customize a run or ride to any distance, short or epic.
The Silver Comet Trail: the first twenty miles
MILE 0 The trail’s official start lies at the Mavell Road Trailhead, mile 0. The asphalt-paved trail runs westbound, winding through a young forest and passing the Fontaine Road Trailhead at mile 1.2. It crosses a large metal bridge spanning the East-West Connector at mile 2.3.
The trail dives through a shady stretch of forest, tunneling between two rocky, steep-sided banks before reaching the Concord Road Trailhead at mile 2.6. The trail crosses Nickajack Creek over a long, high-elevation train trestle, catching views of the creek valley far below. This is one of the longest stretches of the trail in metro Atlanta without road crossings, so it’s often crowded, and ultra-popular with runners.
MILE 4.15 Just after passing the trail’s first road crossing (Hicks Road, mile 3.7), the trail reaches the Floyd Road Trailhead at mile 4.15. Floyd Road is a popular alternate starting point for cyclists and runners, and it’s home to Silver Comet Cycles, a bike shop that offers bike repair, gear, rentals, and refreshments.
Continuing westbound, the trail crosses through kudzu-covered fields, crossing the Olley Creek Bridge at 6.6 miles. The trail crosses the Noses Creek Bridge at 8.5 miles, just before reaching the Carter Road Trailhead.
MILE 8.7 The trail passes the Carter Road Trailhead at mile 8.7 and then dives through a short concrete tunnel at 9.35 miles. A side trail leads to the Sailors Parkway Trailhead at 9.5 miles, offering restrooms, water and concessions. The trail climbs over a large metal bridge at 10.4 miles, crossing Old Lost Mountain Road. The trail makes a short, moderately steep climb at 11.1 miles, crossing Atlanta Highway by an elevated bridge.
MILE 11.4 The trail reaches the Florence Road Trailhead at 11.4 miles. Boneshaker Bicycles (bike gear, rentals and service) is on trail right, opposite the Florence Road trailhead.
The trail crosses Powder Springs Creek at 12.1 miles before diving through a steep-walled channel of rock at 13.3 miles. Just after crossing an engraved granite Silver Comet Trail sign, the trail dips through a short concrete tunnel.
MILE 14.6 The trail reaches the Hiram Trailhead at mile 14.6, passing a railroad car on trail right. The trail crosses through a scenic, elevated, tree-lined stretch before crossing Mill Creek and a rail line over a tall bridge at 16.9 miles. The trail passes the Paulding Trailhead at mile 19.4, just before reaching the Dallas Trailhead at mile 20.2, the site of Tara Drummond Memorial Park.
MILE 20.2 Tara Drummond Memorial Park and the Dallas Trailhead marks the turnaround point of our favorite 40.4 mile roundtrip on the Silver Comet Trail near Atlanta. From here, the ride turns to retrace the trail back to the Mavell Road trailhead, following the outbound ride in reverse.
Water availability & trail etiquette
Water is sporadically available along this section of the trail. Pack plenty of water for your ride or run, and don’t count on the drinking fountains being operable at every trailhead.
The trail is ultra-popular, and one of Atlanta’s favorite workout destinations, especially on warm-weather weekends. Cyclists and skaters: remember to yield to runners and walkers, pass to the left, and politely announce yourself when passing (a simple “on your left” works well). Runners and walkers: keep to the right, don’t stop on the trail, and please don’t crowd the trail with large groups. A little courtesy from all trail users makes for a safer, more enjoyable workout for everyone. Follow these tips for good trail etiquette – and have fun out there!
Always leave no trace, pack out everything you pack in, and if you see trash, pick it up and pack it out.
Stay on the marked trail, tell someone where you're going, pack safety and wayfinding essentials, and don't rely on a mobile phone to find your way. Please always practice good trail etiquette. And before you go, always check the trailhead kiosk, official maps, and the park or ranger office for notices of changed routes, trail closures, safety information, and restrictions.
Free parking is available at multiple trailheads along the trail (green points on the map below).
33.841967, -84.518100 // N33 50.518 W84 31.086