Skip ahead to the paragraph starting "Anyhoo" if you just want the lowdown on McDaniel Farm Park. These first few paragraphs talk about Metro Atlanta multiuse paths in general.
There are piles of paved multiuse trails around Metro Atlanta, and I’m lumping them all together in this one post as they all have some similar attributes. This includes the Big Creek Greenway, the Dunwoody Trailway, the Silver Comet, the Suwanee Greenway, the Arabia Mountain Path, the South Peachtree Creek Trail, and the Roswell Riverwalk Trail (all of which I’ve ridden). I haven’t ridden the Carrolton Trail yet, but I plan to do so soon. And although the Atlanta Beltline and the Freedom Parkway PATH are multiuse paths as well, they are really different beasts and have been featured elsewhere in my tours (and will continue to show up in future themed tours). You can search the names of each of these trails and find out more about them online.
So, the big things these trails have in common:
They are mostly wooded, separated from motor vehicle traffic, and best used for recreational purposes because most of them do not currently connect to anywhere you would actually want to go as a transportation destination (although most Metro Atlanta cities do seem to include them on their transportation master plans). Most people drive to these places, unless they live close enough to walk or ride there. (Okay, Suwanee is a bit different because it’s easily accessible from the new master-planned downtown, where there’s food, city hall, and more — but that is a VERY hilly ride, as is the Arabia Mountain Path although that connects to a nature center, library, monastery, and more. I just rode the Suwanee Greenway again this week with my friend, Caryn and I’m not comfortable recommending it for general use, although we loved it, unless you have an ebike. Carrollton may be the winner as I hear it actually connects the entire city, and the Big Creek Greenway in Alpharetta will eventually be connected to the new Alpharetta Loop. Stay tuned for more on that in the future.)
Some people do use these trails for transportation purposes by cobbling together routes that include non-accessible-for-all segments (or riding on the sidewalk, which is now legal for people of all ages in the City of Dunwoody, which means a suddenly-available 65 miles of de facto multiuse path), but note that all of these trails are closed from dusk to dawn, thereby making them legally unusable during traditional commute hours (for both work and school) at certain times of the year and nontraditional hours for shift workers (which means people who use them can be ticketed/arrested, which raises risks for segments of the population more likely to be stopped by law enforcement). Do note that a number of them include segments that are boardwalks that can be slippery when wet and can be a little rough on a thin-tired road bike, and they are also often built in floodplains and frequently become unusable after heavy rains.
They are beautiful, however, and the isolation is lovely for really feeling like you escape for an hour or two (and there are often enough other people there that you don’t feel stuck if you need help). Recognize that this potential isolation-by-design could present specific dangers to girls and women (who have, in fact, been murdered on the Silver Comet Trail) so I am lukewarm about recommending these trails (although I do frequent some of them in my travels as I always keep a bike in my car and am always looking for a place to knock out a ride if I’m driving somewhere). I do not like to recommend routes where the answer I get from officials when requesting more escape points, sight lines, lights, call boxes, etc. is “you should not go alone” as I do not believe anyone should require escorts to ride a bike safely in the United States of America (especially if using the trail as a transportation corridor — do you typically take a friend to go with you to run an errand?). But, hey, that’s just me.
Anyhoo . . . I want to shine a light on McDaniel Farm Park in Duluth, Georgia (where I stopped while driving home from Winder, Georgia yesterday, where the newest ghost bike memorial in the USA was dedicated in honor of a 17-year-old girl killed while riding her bike home from her job at a supermarket). This repurposed old farmstead has a lovely multiuse trail that takes you past the old farmhouse, “tenant” shacks (hmmm), a huge historic barn (both a quinceinera and a wedding party were having photos taken by the barn yesterday), a food garden (locked), fields of row crops (there were none when I rode yesterday, but last year there was a field of cotton), an orchard (and scattered fruit trees, such as the native persimmons that are hanging heavy with fruit right now — do not pick them until they are fully ripe and falling — trust me on this one!), a cute farm-themed playground, picnic areas, unpaved walking paths, meadows, small bridges over a creek, and more.
The cue card shows just one little .7-mile trail, but it actually includes more than that. I somehow managed to rack up 4 miles yesterday, including getting lost and re-looping several times. It’s a fun kind of lost, however, not a “will I ever see my home again?” kind of lost. And yes, it’s hilly, but again in a fun kind of way (and if you need to walk a bit here and there, just walk). You could go with people of varying abilities and easily accommodate everyone. For instance, maybe everyone does one loop (or part of one) but then those who have had enough set up the picnic area while those who want to do so can explore a bit more.
If you drive there with your bike, take Duluth Highway back toward downtown Duluth (not far) afterwards. It’s a super-cute downtown (Stars Hollow, anyone?) with a woman-on-the-wall mural (see also my “Women on the Walls” Street Mural tour of Atlanta) and a mural bike rack (see my “Mural Bike Rack Tour of Atlanta as well). I bought a nice triple chocolate ice cream cone at the candy shop (and they even allow kids sizes for adults, if you just want a small portion) and ate it at a socially-distanced picnic table in that centrally-located park while listening to live music and watching trains go by. Things could be worse.
Buildings that are part of the old McDaniel Farm homestead include this big barn, a few smaller buildings, and the original white clapboard house. There are signs providing historical context throughout.
Here is a map of the homestead/park. It really packs a lot of punch in not that big a space.
Native persimmon trees are hanging heavy with fruit. These will eventually turn bright orange and taste like orange Pixiestix. You absolutely do not want to eat them before they literally fall to the ground. I wrote an article about why not years ago, that you may enjoy (note: this is the only online link left of it and the photos are gone, plus some of the formatting is weird — I don't own it and can't change it): https://www.thefreelibrary.com/Pucker+up+for+persimmons!+Pattie+Baker+shares+her+shocking...-a0175441910
Here is the vegetable garden, with some history about it. It is, unfortunately, locked so you can't wander through it. Separately, there is also an orchard and a field for row crops.
Don't worry — there are lovely, modern bathrooms so you don't have to use this old outhouse!
And yes, of course I left you a book in the Little Free Library :)