Cycling Through Decatur, Clarkston, & Stone Mountain

BikeDeKalb - ClarkstonWhile cycling the well-maintained Stone Mountain PATH from Decatur to Stone Mountain, in addition to all the leafy trees, you’ll see cyclists of all types, from riders zooming purposefully on carbon fiber bikes to families pedaling slowly and joyfully on hand-me-down bikes.

Most of the 25-mile route is off-road and separated from motorists, and where it isn’t, the trail developers have posted PATH signs to enhance the safety of bikers on the multi-use trails. On your return, there is an option to leave the multi-use path and explore some friendly neighborhoods. Because the trail occasionally overlaps with business properties and various cityscapes, riders should expect and be prepared for a bump when crossing all driveways. Be sure to slow down and proceed carefully when crossing all streets.

Just east of Decatur, riders roll through a residential area known as Lake Claire, where the “Share the Road” signs and bike lanes will keep motorists a safe distance from bikers.

While approaching Decatur, the PATH is parallel to and adjacent to the MARTA line, Atlanta’s public rail system. Bicycles are allowed on all MARTA trains and buses are equipped to transport bikes, so cyclists can use the system to get to and from various points along the journey.

The bike-friendly city of Decatur is well worth a stop. In addition to bicycle shops, the city has many restaurants, shops, galleries and parks. Be sure to stop at the Decatur Visitor’s Center to learn about fun and exciting events offered year-round.

On the east side of Decatur, just after the Avondale MARTA station, the PATH route snakes through an industrial area. If you’re a foodie, check out the DeKalb Farmer’s Market on Laredo Drive, a short hop off the official trail, where you’ll enjoy culinary delights from around the world. Not far from the market, just off Laredo on Rio is Southern Sweets, home of Atlanta’s legendary desserts.

Along the PATH from Decatur to Clarkston, you’ll begin to see giant tangles of the broad-leafed kudzu, a.k.a. the vine that ate the South. This stretch of the route is a bit less developed, with some sections very cracked and bumpy, so cyclists may opt to pedal on the road.

Just before the 2nd mile shortly thereafter, the multi-use trail ends at Laredo Drive. You will make a right turn over the railroad tracks and make a left back onto the trail. Many riders lose site of the path at this intersection, so try to be particularly alert here. For the next 2.5 miles you’ll find quiet, shaded and a gently rolling path before arriving just outside the Clarkston City limits.

Just beyond the 4th mile marker, the path ends and bikes must use the roadway and bridge that goes over I-285. Although motorists are accustomed to seeing bikes along this route, please proceed with caution. This crossing is one lane in both directions, so cyclists should take the lane rolling over the bridge.

Rolling into Clarkston, the PATH signage is two blocks down on your right just BEFORE the car wash. You’ll be riding on residential and low-traffic commercial streets until the multi-use path resumes on the other side of town. Take your time here, enjoy the culture of the neighborhoods; it’s a great way to really discover the ins-and-outs of a place!

BikeDeKalb DeKalb Farmers MarketClarkston, where many employees of the DeKalb Farmer’s Market live, is truly an international city. The home to immigrants and refugees from around the world, you are likely to hear the sounds and see the sights of Africa, Asia, Europe and South and Central America in your journey.

Once you’ve made it to the east side of Clarkston, it’s time to reconnect with the multi-use path. After that, it’s a straight shot to the mountain. The path parallels a busy main thoroughfare, but not to worry, you’re protected and it’s flat! What more could a cyclist want?

You’ll pedal past several cemeteries and a few major intersections, now. Part of the route includes a lovely leafy tunnel, with trees providing shade during hot months and a spectacular show of color during autumn. You’ll also see the ruddy spectrum of Georgia red dirt along this section, ranging from pale peach to rust to deep crimson to a sunset purple.

At mile marker 16, labeled “Charles ‘Chuck’ Burris Memorial Bridge,” the official PATH route narrows to a single lane, accompanied by a warning to yield to oncoming traffic. Be especially cautious on this bridge, and do not attempt to get onto it if another bike or pedestrian is already there.

Not too long after the bridge goes the path end. The ending will be a 5 way intersection at E Ponce de Leon and James B. Rivers Drive. Immediately to the left is the beautiful and historic Silver Hill Cemetery where, as the marker text indicates, “Here sleep, known but to God, approximately one hundred and fifth Confederate soldiers, most of whom died of disease or wounds in the Confederate hospitals that were located near this spot.” The simple, gray granite headstones provide an appropriate prelude to the larger monument in the park.

We recommend entering the Village of Stone Mountain via Ridge and West Mountain, just like its indicated on mapping. This roadway provides an almost traffic free experience, rather than Main Street that can often be very congested.

It’s best to plan your trip to Stone Mountain to arrive between the hours of 10:00 – 3:30, when traffic is lighter at this main thoroughfare for the area. As you can imagine, it’s very busy with motorists during rush hours.

Once you have explored the shops and restaurants of Stone Mountain Village, pop in and say hello to the friendly folks at Aztec Bicycles! Just next door, is the

Stone Mountain Visitor Center and the PATH that will lead you directly into the mountain. If you pedal into Stone Mountain Park, instead of driving, you don’t have to pay the entry fee!

BikeDeKalb Stone Mountain Park3Stone Mountain Park has created a great place for cyclists to ride. The route around the mountain offers a bike lane rolling in one direction and the freedom to use the car lane going in the opposite direction. If you felt the ride was too flat going to the mountain, your experience is about to change! The mountain offers climbs that challenge and downhill rides that will thrill! The tree-lined roads of Stone Mountain offer an autumn spectrum of crimson, gold and yellow, along with the perpetual green of the Georgia pines and magnolias. In the park, you’ll see playgrounds, picnicking families, nature trails, and lakes along with plenty of cyclists, walkers and joggers of all types.

When you are ready to return to Decatur, you can back track along the path for a motorist-free experience. Along mile marker 22, you may choose to venture out for an “on-road” experience through some friendly Decatur neighborhoods. Although this route intersects many major thoroughfares, these roads are primarily residential streets offering wide shoulders. The typical motorist traveling in “these parts” extend a sense of Southern hospitality to the biker and honor the “3-foot passing law” here in Georgia.

DeKalb County is a gorgeous place to ride your bike, and the ride we’ve mapped out for you here is particularly delightful. There are so many wonderful little neighborhoods and restaurants and shops that you’re able to explore. Georgia’s culture and history is so rich, we can’t wait for you to see it and ride through it!