Gentle breezes set the leaves dancing in the canopy of trees overhead. You smoothly cycle along, appreciating the serenity of nature all around you. Walkers and runners exchange friendly nods and a young family waves as you pass. And then there is the warmth of the sun and the company of family and friends. Life is sweet.
Dallas – Sounds too good to be true, right? But it is true. You can enjoy all that with a day trip on the Silver Comet Trail, especially the portion that stretches through Paulding County.
Built on an abandoned rail line that dates to 1897, the Silver Comet Trail is named for the passenger train that ran those tracks from 1947 to 1969. Today, the trail offers nature-lovers and exercise-seekers 61.5 miles of cycling, running, walking, horseback riding, inline skating, dog walking (leashes, please), bird watching, stroller pushing and picnicking. It is paved and wheelchair accessible; motorized vehicles aren’t permitted.
The trail was created by a public-private partnership established by the PATH Foundation, a nonprofit organization on a mission to create a system of interconnecting trails in Georgia. The Silver Comet Trail runs from Smyrna to the Georgia/Alabama state line, where it connects to Alabama’s Chief Ladiga Trail, which can add 34 miles or so to your journey, if you like.
Family-friendly treasure spot
Running through Cobb, Paulding and Polk counties, the family-friendly recreational treasure annually attracts 1.9 million users who want to access nature and pursue good health. Four of the Silver Comet’s 18 trailheads and some of its most scenic spots are in Paulding County.
In spring and again in October, the trail hosts running events ranging from a 10K to a full marathon. However, its most consistent users seem to be walkers and riders.
Mike Harris, co-owner of Cycology Bike Shop in Hiram, rides the Silver Comet Trail frequently and often uses it as a quick way to get to work. An avid cyclist who rides five to six days a week, Harris uses the paved trail, city streets and the Silver Comet Side Trail, a mountain bike trail that runs alongside the paved trail through Paulding County.
“The Silver Comet Trail puts you relatively in touch with nature. It’s quiet and pretty, parts of it are pretty remote, and then you ride through a community and you get a little urban feel,” Harris says. “The side trail is not like that. The side trail, you generally can’t see anything but trees and rocks. It’s a different kind of ride altogether.”
The paved trail is a great ride for beginners or mid-level riders, Harris says. They don’t have to worry about traffic and it’s an easy pace.
Silver Comet Trail is also well patrolled by the Paulding County’s Sheriff’s Office. Cpl. Lee Hurley, the supervisor managing trail safety, says his team hasn’t reported a serious crime in the five years he has been assigned to this duty. Mostly, they deal with collisions.
“We have 19 miles of trail we’re responsible for and we take it seriously. The trail is patrolled every day from dawn until dusk, so people should know that we are here and watching out for their safety,” Hurley says. Patrol units use Smart Cars, dirt bikes, an all-terrain vehicle and bicycles to ensure the safety of citizens.
PATH Foundation co-founder and CEO Ed McBrayer recalls that Paulding County was the first of the local governments to embrace the idea of the trail and how it could dovetail with the county’s recreational programming. “They just got it,” he says.
You’ll come back for more
Kendall Smith, Dallas town manager, says the Silver Comet Trail is a great benefit to Dallas and to the whole county. “The local B&B (The Ragsdale Inn) hosts many travelers from the trail monthly. I know of a group of about 10 cyclists that venture off the trail on the weekends to visit Dallas for a rest and bite to eat,” she says.
Smith has been on the trail several times and knows the route. “It’s full of shaded flat stretches, beautiful views and heart-pumping hills that will make you want to come back for more,” she says.
Along the trail in Paulding County, Harris says, many people enjoy the scenery at the Pumpkinvine Trestle, which bridges a picturesque ravine near the Rambo Road Trailhead in Dallas. Another favorite scene is the Brushy Mountain Tunnel near Coot’s Lake Trailhead in Rockmart. The tunnel cuts through the mountain on the path of the original passenger train.
Which of the Silver Comet’s many offerings moves you? No matter your answer, you will find other enthusiasts out there. See you on the trail!
Need more info about Silver Comet Trail?
Chief Ladiga Trail (Alabama)
More about Georgia’s trails?
Need to rent a bike for the Silver Comet Trail?
Boneshaker Bicycles, Powder Springs
Silver Comet Cycles, Mableton
Smyrna Bicycles, Smyrna
What to bring for the trail?
Mike Harris of Cycology Bike Shop in Hiram recommends:
- Plenty of water (fountains may not be working)
- Snacks, if you’re out for a long time
- Tire kit to mend a flat, if you’re riding
- Your helmet (a must-have for riders)
If you’re out with young children?
- Wet wipes and hand sanitizer
- A mini first-aid kit
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