Serene (and FREE) Biking On The Silver Comet Trail

This past weekend we took the boys to the Silver Comet Trail to ride bikes. The Silver Comet Trail is located 13 miles northwest of Atlanta. It’s free of charge, and travels west through Cobb, Paulding, and Polk counties. This quiet, non-motorized trail is for walkers, hikers, bicyclists, rollerbladers, dog walkers, and is wheelchair accessible – which means it’s perfect for strollers too.

silver-comet-trail

Photo courtesy of silvercometga.com

The Trail is over 61 miles long, and starts near Mavell Road in Smyrna, Georgia. It ends at the Georgia/Alabama state line, near Cedartown and Esom.

At the Georgia/Alabama state line, the Silver Comet connects to the 33-mile long Chief Ladiga Trail. Both the Silver Comet Trail and Chief Ladiga are fully paved rail-trails built on abandoned railroad lines. The combined Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga trail length is estimated to be over 100 paved miles from Smyrna, Georgia to Anniston, Alabama.

Silver Comet Trail: Floyd Road Trail Head

We went to the Floyd Road trail head because they have a bike rental shop. There is ample free parking and the ride is wooded providing shade from the sun. If you go south, you’ll hit a covered bridge and a couple of other bridges that take you over the highway, which is kinda fun.

Concord Covered Bridge District

A few hundred years south of the Silver Comet Trail is the historic Concord Covered Bridge. This bridge is open to vehicular traffic and has the highest traffic count of all the covered bridge in the state combined. For that reason alone, I wouldn’t recommend biking or walking through it, you can enjoy going through a covered bridge along the Silver Comet Trail a lot more safely. However, it may be worth getting off your bike and just taking a look from a safe distance.

The Concord Bridge was built in 1872 and goes over Nickajack Creek. While you are taking a break from  Silver Comet Trail, this area also has remnants of Ruff’s Mill, the site of a Civil War battle. The ruins of the dam can still be seen upstream from the bridge, as well as parts of the grist mill.

 

heritage park trail

Photo courtesy of Kate Gelsthorpe

Heritage Park Trail

Our Bad-Ass Ambassador Kate took her family on the Heritage Park Trail that begins at the Silver Comet. She was kind enough to give the scoop on that adventure. Read more here!

heritage park silver comet

Photo courtesy of Kate Gelsthorpe

The Heritage Park Trail in Smyrna is a 1.7 mile, well-maintained nature trail that takes you past the old Concord Woolen Mills, and connects to the Silver Comet Trail near Concord Road.

This trail is just down the street from our house, and it is most definitely one of our family’s favorites!

It’s really got it all — a newly-redone boardwalk over wetlands, an awesome trail along Nickajack Creek, a stunning site of old mill ruins, and two small break-off trails — one to the Silver Comet Trail, and one that leads right to one of the few covered bridges in Georgia.

There are two entrances to Heritage Park, which is a 105-acre nature preserve.  One is to park at the Silver Comet Trail parking lot on Concord Road, and walk 0.2 miles on the trail, just past the wooden Concord Road bridge.  Access to the Heritage Park trail  — no bikes allowed — will be on your right, just before you reach the metal bridge that crosses over the East-West Connector.  Entrance to Heritage Park here will take you right to the Concord Woolen Mills ruins (only about a 0.1 walk from here) — a definite site to see!

The second entrance, and the one my family uses most often, is located at the corner of Fontaine and Nickajack roads — where you will see a Heritage Park sign, and a nice picnic area.  The trail starting here takes you down a slight hill, and then almost immediately takes you on the boardwalk over the wetlands.  The boardwalk has been newly redone, and it just an absolutely beautiful and peaceful walk — or if my kids are with you, it’s a really nice place to race your sibling.

At the end of the boardwalk, you’ll reach dirt trail, which travels along Nickajack Creek.  There are plenty of visitor-made off-shoots leading down to the creek the entire length of the trail, which my kids love to explore.  Along the way, you’ll also pass a couple of covered picnic tables, which we always take advantage of, and then right about 1.2 miles you will see the old Concord Woolen Mills ruins.

heritage park

Photo courtesy of Kate Gelsthorpe

A quick internet search shows that the Concord Woolen Mills was built in 1847 before being burned by Sherman’s troops during the Civil War in 1864.  It was rebuilt, burned again in another fire in 1889, rebuilt again, but was abandoned for good by 1916.  What remains is some of the crumbling walls held up by huge steel beams — and it’s an eerily beautiful site.  My kids are fascinated by this place, and find something new every time we visit.

From the ruins, if you walk up the short trail above the mill, this is where you will reach the Silver Comet Trail very close to the Concord Road trailhead.  If you continue from the mills going forward, you will see a small, narrow trail that continues along Nickajack Creek.  This short part of the trail (about 0.25 miles) leads you right to the end of a driveway — but that driveway is right in front of the Concord Covered Bridge, a 131-feet long bridge that was built in 1872.  This bridge is open to traffic, and heavily used, so use caution if you’re trying to take a picture (and do not go in it — it’s busy, I promise).

This historic area was also the scene of a Civil War battle, and remnants of Ruff’s Mill can be seen here.  This is a residence, though, so just look from afar.

All in all, this place is a beautiful, peaceful reprieve from the sometimes-hectic Silver Comet Trail.  It’s got history, and lots of fun distractions along the way, making this a great trail to try with kids.  We often make a day of picnicking by the creek, taking turns trying to skip rocks, and exploring the ruins.  It’s a wonderful way to spend a day.

heritage park water

Photo courtesy of Kate Gelsthorpe

Kate Gelsthorpe is a former TV news writer turned stay-at-home mom blogger. She is a born and raised Georgia girl who grew up camping with her mom, dad and sister at state parks around central and south Georgia. When she’s not out exploring with her family, she’s having margaritas with her book club, which was founded strictly for the margaritas. She and her husband Kevin are the proud parents of a 5-year-old dinosaur expert and a 3-year-old outdoor-loving fashionista. They reside in Cobb County.

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