South Peachtree Creek Trail is one of the more splendid trails I've explored recently. You have the option of trekking the 1.8 miles and returning on the same 1.8 miles, with a new view, all of which is boardwalk or paved—a nice bit of exercise, in the beauty of nature—at 3.6 miles total. There are a some of softer paths, too, if you'd like to explore a little off the main trail, and want to add to your total mileage, if you're going for distance or steps like I was initially.
|South Peachtree Creek Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor|
The South Peachtree Creek Trail is available to locals and visitors through a partnership with DeKalb County and the PATH Foundation. It's incredibly maintained and has a few surprises along the way...the good kind, of course.
The above photo is a relic from the Old Decatur Waterworks. This particular water tower is mentioned a lot in earlier articles about South Peachtree Creek Trail, usually noting it being covered with urban art, or graffiti. Today it's mostly covered with undergrowth, but you can still see a little of the art on the back. This is near the 180° turn on the boardwalk, pictured below.
Three Creeks Trail, an off-shoot of South Peachtree Creek Trail, takes visitors through the Old Decatur Waterworks. There's quite a bit on that trail, so I've decided to share that in a separate post.
The boardwalk goes treetop at this point where there's a 180° turn on the trail. This is a dismount zone for cyclists. You'll see walkers, runners, and cyclists on the trail. And you'll see some regulars, if you find yourself going multiple times.
This is one of the best marked trails I've been on, which includes distance markers, so you know how far you've hiked and how much you have left. There are also signs specifically for those on bicycles indicating curves and that boardwalks can be slippery when wet. I would feel safe biking here, for the excellent signage alone.
There are multiple places along the trail where you can enter. The times I've been, I park at Medlock Park, which has ample free and SHADED parking! This is also the starting point for the distance markers along the trail.
This is definitely a wildlife habitat and one of the signs you'll see kindly reminds us:
PLEASE DO NOT HARM NATIVE CREATURES
YOU ARE A GUEST IN THEIR HOME
Some kids who were biking with their dad came across this little guy and they were totally fascinated with it. They were, of course, respectful and cycled around him.
You're likely to see a wide array of wildlife ranging from turtles to many species of birds and perhaps even some deer.
About half way to the end of the trail at North Druid Hills Road (the turnaround point) you pass by Mason Mill Park. There's signage, but if you miss that you'll see (or hear) the tennis courts.
I did not realize it when I visited, but the author I've mentioned on other hikes, the one whose book, Hiking Atlanta's Hidden Forests, has been a great resource, is a Ranger at Mason Mill Park. Although not available during the pandemic, Ranger Jonah McDonald leads nature programs and coordinates volunteer activities in the 120-acre forest around the park!
There have not been a lot of art installations on the trails I've been exploring—nature is so beautiful on its own that I haven't missed seeing public art. These colorful birdhouses are fantastical fun! I did not see a placard near them, so I don't know the creative genius behind them, but whoever did them created a spot of joy that you can't help but smile at when you pass by.
On my first visit, I explored some of the side trails. One took me along the creek for a short distance, another took me along nearby train tracks, and one took me to where they intersect.
This railroad trestle, operated by Seaboard Air Line Railroad, was used to transport construction materials to the Old Decatur Waterworks site, which dates back to the early 1900s.
I love how clever they were with seats in unexpected places, like the one above. There are additional benches, some quite stylish, along the trail, too.
This is a destination for all generations! I've never seen a trail bring so many different people. There are kids and teens, young professionals, families, moms-with-strollers, middle-age folks, and lots of senior citizens. It was refreshing to see so much diversity.
This stone bridge, today part of South Peachtree Creek Trail, is from the 1907 Old Decatur Waterworks, which was abandoned in the 1940s. The Waterworks was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 2006.
Just beyond this bridge on the left are remnants of a stone fountain that once graced the grounds of the former Decatur Waterworks. I had no idea what it was when I first saw it, but later found maps of the waterworks that had the fountain on them.
Just beyond that, also on the left, is a pylon with informational placards about Three Creeks Trail (which I'll write about in another post), a trail within a trail. This loop trail takes visitors through the ruins of the Old Decatur Waterworks and beyond.
There's also a branch of the trail that leads to Emory University Clairmont Campus. I have not traveled that one, but perhaps next time. It's entry point is well-marked and an obvious fork in the path. This is a big deal because it connects numerous neighborhoods with Emory University. I hope we see lots of examples of this for other colleges and universities around town.
You might not believe that you're inside the perimeter (inside I-285) while you're power-walking or meandering the South Peachtree Creek Trail. This trail, which offers quite a bit of shade (but still wear your sunscreen!), natural beauty, and it showcases a variety of ecological environs. Enjoy!