Rail-trails can now be found all across the state. Here are most of the existing paths, as well as some trails currently in the planning stage.
• Silver Comet Trail. West of Atlanta. Named for Seaboard's New York-Atlanta-Birmingham passenger train, a part of the railroad's famous "Silver Fleet." The 61-mile trail winds through much of Cobb, Paulding, and Polk counties on an abandoned Seaboard Air Line Railway corridor. At the state line it continues as Alabama's Chief Ladiga Trail. (Updated September 2013).
• McQueen's Island Trail. Between Savannah and Tybee Island. A 6-mile trail on the Central of Georgia's old Savannah-Tybee line.
• Columbus Fall Line Trace. NE side of Columbus. This 11-mile trail connects downtown with Columbus State College and Flat Rock Park.
• Moultrie Trail. South side of Moultrie. Also known as Tom White Linear Park, this 7.5-mile trail follows a route that passes through several pleasant neighborhoods.
• Atlanta BeltLine Trails. Atlanta. Downtown Atlanta was once encircled by "belt line" railroads, most of which have been abandoned. Construction has begun on a system of trails along these corridors, and a 2.25-mile section is now open (Eastside Trail from 10th Street and Monroe Drive to Irwin Street).
• Whetstone Creek Trail. Atlanta. Follows an abandoned rail spur that once ran from CSX's Tilford Yard to Marietta Boulevard.
• Trolley Line Trail. Atlanta to Decatur. Follows a former streetcar line built in the 1890s.
• Simms Mountain Trail. NW of Rome. A 12-mile trail on the bed of the Central of Georgia route to Chattanooga. Travels through a scenic rural area between Rome and Lyerly.
• Rome-Floyd County Heritage Trails. Rome. Included within this expanding network of trails are two short sections of the former Central of Georgia route through downtown Rome. The Heritage Park Trail begins at the Central’s bridge over the Oostanaula River (now called the Robert Redden Foot Bridge) and then runs alongside Heritage Park on the north bank of the Coosa River. The Silver Creek Trail begins at the end of East 4th Street and follows the abandoned Central bed across the Etowah River on another historic railroad bridge (now the Bob Moore Bicycle Bridge). The trail continues along the rail bed following Silver Creek to Silver Street.
• Tallulah Falls Rail-Trail. N of Tallulah Falls. Also known as the Shortline Trail, this paved route follows 1.7 miles of the former Tallulah Falls Railway in Rabun County. The trail begins on the north shore of Tallulah Falls Lake and proceeds north from there.
• Douglas Rail-Trail. Douglas. A 3-mile trail follows the route of the Georgia & Florida Railroad through town, passing beside the 1923 G&F depot.
• Waycross Downtown Rail-Trail. An 1,800-foot rail-trail on former CSX tracks in downtown Waycross is expected to be complete by the fall of 2014.
• S&S Greenway Trail. Statesboro. A planned 8-mile bike and pedestrian trail from Statesboro to Brooklet on the bed of the long-abandoned Savannah & Statesboro Railway. A section in Statesboro was completed a few years ago.
• Lula Lake Trail. Lookout Mountain. Follows about a mile of the bed of the Chickamauga & Durham Railroad, which climbed Lookout Mountain by way of the scenic Rock Creek canyon.
• Conasauga River Trail and Jacks River Trail. N side of Cohutta Wilderness. These back country trails follow logging railroads that were built deep into the Cohutta Mountains in the early 20th century.
Trails in Planning and Early Development
• Firefly Trail. Athens area. Named for an early locomotive on the Georgia Railroad line out of Athens, the proposed 39-mile trail would follow one of the state's oldest rail routes. More info on the Firefly Trail Facebook page.
• Central Georgia Rail-Trail. Milledgeville-Macon area. The Central Georgia Rail-to-Trail Association is working to create a 33-mile trail on the abandoned Georgia Railroad route between Macon and Milledgeville, passing through parts of Bibb, Jones, and Baldwin counties. More info at CGRTA's website and Facebook page.
• Harris County Rail-Trail. Pine Mountain area. This 21-mile rail-trail will become one of the state's most popular rural rides due to its proximity to Callaway Gardens and FDR State Park. The abandoned former Central of Georgia line once extended from Columbus to Raymond.
Rail-Trails Next Door
The trails listed below are in neighboring states, but nearby. All except for the Guild-Hardy Trail are on rail routes that once extended into Georgia.
• Chattahoochee Valley Railroad Trail. Valley, AL. A couple of miles across the state line from West Point, GA, this paved rail-trail follows the route of the Chattahoochee Valley Railroad through the old mill towns of Shawmut, Langdale, Fairfax, and Riverview.
• Chief Ladiga Trail. Anniston, AL, area. This 33-mile paved trail continues the route of Georgia's Silver Comet Trail from the state line to Anniston, AL.
• Blue Ridge Railroad Historical Trail. Walhalla, SC, area. About 2.5 miles of the ill-fated Blue Ridge Railroad can be explored at Stumphouse Tunnel Park north of Walhalla. This unpaved trail through rugged country gives the visitor an idea of the difficulties faced by the railroad construction teams. (About 17 miles from the state line at US 76-Chattooga River bridge).
• Little Tennessee River Greenway. Franklin, NC. A section of this 4.5-mile trail follows the route of the Tallulah Falls Railway.
• North Augusta Greeneway. North Augusta, SC. Named for former mayor Thomas Greene, this 7-mile paved path includes part of the former Georgia & Florida Railway line between Augusta, GA and Greenwood, SC, which opened in 1929. The trail lies just across the river from downtown Augusta.
• Savannah Valley Railroad Trail. West of McCormick, SC. This new rail-trail follows part of the old Charleston & Western Carolina Railway route between McCormick and Anderson, SC. A 2.2-mile section opened in 2010, and a total trail length of 35 miles is projected.
• Four Freedoms Trail. Madison County, FL. A 12-mile section of the former Georgia & Florida Railway south of Valdosta is now a paved rail-trail. It begins in the town of Madison, FL, and ends at the Withlacoochee River, which forms the state line at this point.
• Monticello Bike Trail. Monticello, FL. On US 19 about 5 miles south of the state line is Monticello, once a stop on the Atlantic Coast Line route between southwestern Georgia and Florida. The 2-mile rail-trail runs north-south through town, a few blocks east of the historic courthouse.
• Guild-Hardy Trail. Lookout Mountain, TN. Much of the route up the mountain carved out by the former Chattanooga & Lookout Mountain Railway is followed by the Guild-Hardy Trail. It is part of an extensive network of trails on the Lookout Mountain plateau, in both Georgia and Tennessee.
RailGa.com. Georgia's Railroad History & Heritage. © Steve Storey