Athens is the sixth-largest city in Georgia and is home to the University of Georgia, making it a bonafide college town. It is located along the Oconee River and below the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, making it a scenic city with beautiful, nature-filled views.
Athens’ downtown area is more urban, with bars and restaurants suited for the city’s college students. If you’re looking for a place to run, it’s safe to say that the downtown area might not be the most appealing. Luckily, numerous running trails in Athens will leave you feeling like you’re out of the city.
Sandy Creek Nature Center boasts a great running trail that leads you across boardwalks, over dirt paths, and below the park’s trees. The route is 4.1 miles long and flat, which is a great middle distance for a runner who is just getting into trail running.
Situated in the heart of the Five Points neighborhood, this trail is an optimal option for a short 1.25 mile run amongst nature. This is a fantastic trail for a trail running beginner since the path is short but includes small bridges and steeper sections for changes of terrain that are common in trail running.
The North Oconee Greenway is one of the more popular running trails in Athens since it is close to the city and ideal for middle or long-distance runners. The trail is 3.75 miles of paved road and shaded beneath trees, making it an easy run. If you finish the route and are feeling up to a long-distance run, you can continue onto Cook’s Greenway Trail, which begins at the end of the North Oconee Greenway.
For a quick 3 mile loop, the Botanical Gardens has a perfect trail for practicing your running. The running trail is enclosed and includes rolling hills on native soil, which are great for practicing on new terrains. Here, you can spot beautiful plants and local wildlife on your run. They’ve provided runners with a coded color system in the event you get lost along the way.
If you’re looking for a longer and more challenging route, Heritage Park is the way to go. It spans 9.5 miles, with twists, turns, and even some hills. This is an ideal spot for more skilled and experienced trail runners and is a great goal to work up to. The only downside is that it is located on Highway 441 and will take about 20 minutes to get to from Athens by car, but if you’re itching for a challenge, the drive is worth it.
Fort Yargo’s running trails are another great option for long-distance running with some elevated terrain as well. The paths are 12 to 15 miles long, but there are shorter options available. The terrain is single flowing, but the hills give a slight challenge to your run every once in a while. Fort Yargo is a highly customizable option that is good for both beginners and more advanced trail runners.
No matter what you’re looking for, there are undoubtedly several running trails in Athens that are sure to fit your needs. Hopping on any one of these trails for some exercise is a fantastic way to take a break from the city and perfect your trail running skills.