Twenty years ago a trio of cycling enthusiasts had a vision for a network of bike trails around the Atlanta area. What began as a dream to provide Georgians with off-road trails to promote a healthy lifestyle has now developed into the longest paved bike trail in the U.S. Located 13 miles northwest of Atlanta, the Silver Comet bike trail travels west through Cobb, Paulding, and Polk counties for 62 miles. At the Georgia/Alabama border it connects with the Chief Ladiga Trail for another 33 miles, making for nearly 100 miles of car-free cycling serenity. Along with other trails in the Atlanta area, the Silver Comet Trail is maintained by the PATH Foundation, an organization dedicated to building a network of scenic greenways throughout the state of Georgia.
The Silver Comet Trail was built on the abandoned rail bed of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad which provided luxury passenger service between New York and Birmingham from 1947 to 1969. The name of that train was the Silver Comet. Cyclists can experience relics of the rail period including 3 trestles, a rail tunnel, and 2 train depots.
There are plenty of side trips to make along the trail including a stop at the Concord Covered Bridge (the only remaining covered bridge in the Atlanta area), a visit to the remains of a woolen mill, excursions to the proverbial charming town, and even single track mountain bike trails that jut off from the main trail. The Chief Ladiga Trail on the Alabama side is built on an abandoned CSX rail corridor and passes through more idyllic towns and scenic landscapes.
There is no fee to use the trail which is recognized as a National Recreation Trail by the National Park Service. The entire bike trail is quite popular so be courteous to other cyclists, pedestrians, and in-line skaters. The crowds do thin out the further west you go from Atlanta. The trail is mostly flat with a few more challenging hills near Rockmart. Plans are in development to connect with other linking trails to provide a continuous line from Atlanta to Birmingham. To plan a trip see BikeSilverComet.com. For more information about this and other trails in the area visit the PATH Foundation.