There’s a creek running alongside busy Interstate I-85 in Metro Atlanta, but you may never have known it. Now, with the creation of “The Model Mile” of the Peachtree Creek Greenway multiuse path alongside the creek in the city of Brookhaven, you can start to see a whole new way of traveling at the speed of bike both for that previously-harrowing commute to work as well as for other utilitarian and recreational purposes. The Peachtree Creek Greenway holds the potential to eventually run 12 miles long through four cities (Doraville, Chamblee, Brookhaven, and Atlanta) and unincorporated DeKalb County, eventually connecting to the northern arc of the 22-mile Atlanta Beltline loop.
If you don’t live nearby it and would be accessing it via car, it is a true find — an oasis, really — for a quick ride when driving home from somewhere else (I keep a bike in my car at all times and often stop to ride all over Metro Atlanta if I’m out driving somewhere). You park down that side street where REI is if you enter from the Clairmont Road direction, or via a little side road off North Druid Hills Road if you enter from that direction. There’s also a parking lot by Corporate Square off the I-85 service road, and several MARTA buses have routes nearby as well (note that you may take a bike on a MARTA bus at any time that room is available in the front carrier, which is equipped to carry up to two bikes). Fun fact: All trail heads have free-to-use bike fix-it stations.
I rode the Peachtree Creek Greenway for you twice recently, with different bikes — a road bike (since sometime paths are super hilly — hello Suwanee, PATH 400, and Arabia Mountain!) and an upright 7-speed to see how easy it is to ride re: elevation, and it’s a breeze (I’d say three gears would cover it just fine). I think I might have said wow about 50 times during that one little mile (1.3 miles, to be precise). It is stunning, and has attributes that many other multiuse paths in the region do not:
(1) It has lights and is open from 6 AM to 11 PM, thereby setting the stage for it to be a true commute option during those times of the year when it is dark during traditional commute hours and for those whose school or work hours don’t align with the sun;
(2) It has mostly clear and open sight lines (including on the wide custom-built bridge pictured above), making it more welcoming to women and teen girls than other isolated, wooded paths (I did, in fact, see a young teen girl with a backpack riding it alone, which you really don’t see that much nowadays);
(3) The seating options are so thoughtful, from bump-out bench areas exactly where you would want them to large rocks that make immersing-in-nature inviting;
(4) It has numerous little sand bars alongside the creek in certain areas, which with my powers of imagination enabled me to feel like I was on vacation (or back home again on Long Island in NY), which is no small thing during this seemingly-endless pandemic;
(5) It will eventually showcase the City of Brookhaven’s new municipal building (currently under construction) right there on the path! (Note: until that happens, there are no restrooms.)
(Warning: It IS in a floodplain, so you may run into flooding after heavy rains.)
My recommendation is to ride the entire Model Mile round-trip, starting at the Briarwood entrance (which is what is reflected on my Ride Spot route map). You can even wander up the spur trail next to the Salvation Army mural. (If you go right at the road at the top of the spur trail, you’re faced with an offer of bibles and books at the Salvation Army’s southeastern headquarters; if you go left, the Pink Pony strip club greets you, with a place named Lips for dining-in-drag just around the corner.)
Then, back on the greenway, after completing the 2.6 total mileage roundtrip, make a left at Briarwood Road and bop up (on the left-side sidewalk, which widens into a multiuse path in just a short while) to the Northeast Plaza shopping center nearby on Buford Highway, where you will find stunning murals (such as the one below) celebrating the current (and currently threatened) diversity of the community (plus, there are some places to grab a bite and use the bathroom). See more photos on Ride Spot.
I recently interviewed the head of the Peachtree Creek Greenway advocacy group and did some additional research, and I will be doing a story about that soon here on Traveling at the Speed of Bike.
Bottom line? This path seems special, if it can continue to be a public place for all. See the Peachtree Creek Greenway website here.
As a People for Bikes Ambassador, I am creating and sharing self-guided bike tours that are low-stress and welcoming. My listed tours include:
- Most Diverse City in the USA while Traveling at the Speed of Bike
- Downtown Decatur while Traveling at the Speed of Bike
- “Women on the Walls” Street Murals while Traveling at the Speed of Bike
- Tiny Doors to Tony Doors while Traveling at the Speed of Bike
- Mural Bike Racks while Traveling at the Speed of Bike
- McDaniel Farm (and Other Trails) while Traveling at the Speed of Bike
- “The Model Mile” (Peachtree Creek Greenway) while Traveling at the Speed of Bike
- Dunwoody’s Painted Picnic Tables while Traveling at the Speed of Bike
- Castleberry Hill while Traveling at the Speed of Bike