Trails & Open Space

Looking for a fun outdoor activity? Enjoy a day at the park with a stroll along a walking path or trail. Leisure Services offers several choices of varying difficulties, including both paved walking paths and natural surface trails. There’s something for everyone, from families with small children to experienced hikers!

Please note:

Bicycle use is prohibited on all natural surface trails except the mountain bike trails at Trail Creek Park and the small hillside natural surface trail at Dudley Park connecting the lower parking lot with the Firefly Trail.

Dogs must be on a leash of 6 feet or less and under your control at all times.

All trails are open Sunrise to Sunset. 

Natural Surface Trails  

Ben Burton Park

Ben Burton Park is a 32 acre natural area that includes 1.4 miles of trail that traverses the upland forest and the Middle Oconee riverside.

Memorial Park Trails

The Birchmore Trail is a 1.25-mile trail that winds through an urban forest and is highlighted by the Great Wall of Happy Hollow, which was built single-handedly by Fred Birchmore while in his 70s.

Sandy Creek Park Trails

Sandy Creek Park boasts over 12 miles of hiking trails! The 8-mile Lakeside Trail follows the edge of 260 acre Lake Chapman through mature hardwood forest. The Buckeye Horse trail is a 4.2 mile in-and-out trail for hiking and equestrian use.

Sandy Creek Nature Center

The Sandy Creek Nature Center has several trails for you to explore. Learn more about the Sandy Creek Nature Center trails. Sandy Creek Nature Center offers an ADA accessible boardwalk trail.

Southeast Clarke Park

In addition to the paved walking path, Southeast Clarke Park offers a short 1.5 mile nature trail that connects the Lexington Road and Whit Davis sides of the park. 

Virginia Walker Park Trails

Virginia Walker Park Trails is Athens’ destination for mountain biking. The park includes 4.5 miles of mountain bike trails built in partnership with SORBA-Athens. Pedestrians and dogs on leashes are also allowed on these trails.

Paved Multi Use Trails

Oconee River Greenway

The Greenway currently consists of 8 miles of paved-multi use trail that follow the North Oconee River from Sandy Creek Nature Center to Dudley Park and beyond towards Barnett Shoals and the University of Georgia's School of Music. There are also multiple spur trails of the Greenway including the Pulaski Heights Trail, the Milledge Extension Trail, and the Trail Creek Trail.

Firefly Trail

The Firefly Trail currently spans 2.8 miles from downtown Athens all the way to Hancock Road and then begins again in downtown Winterville, continuing for 1.6 miles towards the Oglethorpe County Line. This trail, when completed, will form a continuous trail along old railroad lines from downtown Athens, GA to Union Point, GA.

Walking Paths  

Walking Path at Bishop Park

Paved paths wind through Bishop Park and offer a one mile loop or a half mile loop.

Walking Path at Memorial Park

A paved walking path that runs three-eights of a mile around the Memorial Park lake.

Walking Path at Southeast Clarke Park

This 0.6-mile walking path offers a picturesque walk through Southeast Clarke Park.

Walking Path at Virginia Walker Park

The walking path at Virginia Walker Park winds through the park and even provides a view of the University of Georgia campus skyline.

Tips for Trail Safety

  • Most trails do not have drinking water along the trail. Make sure to bring your own water.
  • Plan you route ahead of time and tell someone where you're going and when you plan to return.
  • Dogs are welcome, but must be on-leash and under control at all times. Please pick up after your pet.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Walk, jog, or ride with a companion.
  • Hide your belongings, lock your car, and take your keys and a phone with you.
  • Respect wildlife - do not approach animals or remove any flora or fauna.
  • Stay on designated trails.
  • If you ever feel like you're in danger, or see something suspicious, call 911 immediately.