The Silver Comet Trail stretches from Smyrna, a hipster suburb of Atlanta, all the way to the Georgia/ Alabama border. The whole thing is about 60 miles long. If you continue past the border into Alabama, the trail becomes the Chief Ladiga Trail and extends another 33 miles to its end in the town of Anniston. Both trails are part of the Rails to Trails project, an initiative to turn old, un-used railway lines into paved bike and hike paths. There are campgrounds along the way as well, so it’s possible to embark on a multi-day ride.
I would like to ride the entirety of both trails someday but, as is the theme with my life right now, I have to be content with a smaller section while my kids are young and I can’t take off on multi-day adventures. My son has really gotten into biking lately, and he said he would love to ride his bike all the way to Alabama. I’m working on putting together an overnight trip, just one night, that he and I could do together. With that goal in mind, I rode a small section of the trail this weekend.
I rode from the Hiram trailhead to the Tara Drummond trailhead, a very flat and easy section of trail that’s a little over 5 miles. I rode it out and back for a total of a little over 10 miles. But then I felt so good that I kept going! I ended up with a total of 12 miles for the day.
I’m used to hiking everywhere at 3 miles an hour, so distances that sound long to me are actually really quick and easy on a bike. I covered that 12 mile section in an hour and 20 minutes on the bike, and that included a stop at the restroom! I went out intending to do 10 miles and wondering if it would be hard. It wasn’t! This section of trail is super flat, no hills at all, so you can really cruise! If you’re just getting into biking, or out of shape and trying to ease into it, this section is perfect for you.
I started at the Hiram trailhead, next to Homer Leggett Park. There are restrooms and water fountains next door at the park. You also get to see the bright red train, a relic of the passenger train days.
This section of trail is mostly through the “green tunnel,” with overhanging trees on both sides. It’s wonderful because Atlanta is hot as blazes and the trees provide much appreciated shade. There are lots of cool rock formations and a few bridges to keep it interesting.
This section of trail is not very remote. Just off trail are roads, houses and apartment complexes. I felt very safe as a woman riding alone, but I should mention that this section of the Silver Comet includes the spot where a woman was murdered a few years ago. It’s sobering and eery to pass the small monument erected in her honor. It’s a good reminder to be cautious, but to enjoy your life because you never know how much of it is left.
The Tara Drummond trailhead has a clean restroom and water fountain. I stopped here for a minute for a water and potty break, then turned around and headed back toward the truck.
I started my ride at 8 in the morning and saw progressively more people as the day went on. Like I said, at no point did I feel unsafe or too remote. There was always someone around, or within screaming distance, but it wasn’t so busy as to feel crowded or claustrophobic.
If you’re in metro Atlanta you’ll definitely want to check out the Silver Comet. Maybe you’ll get ambitious and ride all the way to Alabama!