Alpharetta, GA

Walking From Avalon to Alpharetta is a Breeze on the AlphaLoop

Bebe Nicholson

The first segment of Alpharetta's dynamic pathway system is a taste of good things to come.

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The walking trail across from Avalon is clearly marked:photo by author

The AlphaLoop, first introduced in 2016, is an Alpharetta city project many residents have followed with interest. As a hiker, I love the idea of interconnected sidewalks and greenways.

The trail system, with its hefty price tag of $20 million, seemed years away from completion when city council members initially approved a draft plan. Designed to eventually connect multiple trails that will carry travelers all the way to the North Point commercial area close to the popular Big Creek Greenway, the project was interrupted but not sidelined by Covid-19.

With such an ambitious vision, described as one of the “most transformative, dynamic projects” Alpharetta has undertaken, I didn’t expect to walk on the trail any time soon. So you can imagine my excitement when I found out the first full segment has been completed.

I was even more excited when I discovered this part of the trail makes traveling from Downtown Alpharetta to Avalon a walkable reality.

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Bridges and sidewalks connect Avalon to Alpharetta on the picturesque trail:photo by author

Alpharetta’s downtown has been reinvented in the past 10 years, with shops, cafes, greenspace, and pedestrian walkways transforming the area into a vital business and entertainment hub.

Avalon, an upscale mixed-used development with over 500,000 square feet of retail space, a greenspace that becomes a skating rink in winter, and more than 100 single-family luxury homes, held its grand opening in 2014. It has since become an event center, gathering place and go-to spot for entertainment.

Connecting Downtown Alpharetta with Avalon is a walker’s dream come true, and I was determined to try it out.

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The downtown part of the loop begins at this crossing:photo by author

My first attempt at walking the AlphaLoop was unsuccessful. I started out in Alpharetta, parking my car near the library and heading across the city park toward the first trail sign. But I went a block too far, ending up at an impassable construction zone.

I gave up and went home, determined to try again another day.

That day came this week. Tropical Storm Fred had swept through the day before, dumping several inches of rain. When the next morning dawned sunny and bright, I decided I had been housebound long enough and wanted to walk the AlphaLoop. Only this time, I decided to start at Avalon.

I knew where the Avalon segment of the trail began, so I parked in the shopping center close to the sidewalk and headed across the street, toward Thompson Road.

Be sure to use the crosswalks when crossing Westside Highway. There are stop signs and pedestrian signals, and the crosswalk takes you directly to the trailhead.

It’s an easy, clearly marked path to follow, which was relief after my initial efforts. The first part of the Loop takes you on a sidewalk along a residential area. A short distance later, signs direct you to the trail, which follows a picturesque, winding path across a bridge and through a shaded grove flanked by white hydrangeas.

Fifteen minutes after starting out, I reached the wooden platform walkway I had bypassed before. It was the Downtown Alpharetta entrance to the AlphaLoop; a network of walkways skirting a new townhome development.

Since the walk had been so short, I decided to explore the downtown area before heading back to Avalon.

The Alpharetta Library and City Hall, along with the city park and the Alpharetta amphitheater, are across the street from the walkway. Benches and artwork are interspersed throughout the park, and people took advantage of the benches, resting or reading in the shade.

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splash fountain on Alpharetta city green:photo by author

Another block, and I reached the greenspace where children in swimsuits cooled off in the splash fountain. Music from an Indian restaurant, along with the mouth-watering aroma of Indian food, wafted through the air near the splash fountain and people filled the café chairs lining the sidewalk.

I ducked into the library for a bit of air conditioning and to pick up some local papers and activity pamphlets. Even during this season of Covid-induced social distancing, there were free outdoor activities to take advantage of.

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In addition to walking, you can find other free things to do:photo by author

Flowery blouses and gauzy dresses drew my attention to the shops in the business district, but I figured it was time to head back. I was sweaty and hot from the walk, and shopping could wait for another day.

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The downtown shopping area is only a block from the AlphaLoop:photo by author

I found the trail head easily this time. Now that I know where it is, I will probably park downtown in the future. Parking is generally easy to find since city planners had the foresight to build parking garages.

Now that I’ve walked this first segment of the AlphaLoop, I look forward to more of the trail being completed. With work on the 3.3-mile inner loop well underway, maybe work on the 5.5-mile outer loop will not be far off.

In the meantime, I can enjoy a leisurely stroll from Avalon to Alpharetta, and then continue my adventures in the city.

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I've worked as editor, newspaper reporter, freelance writer, and book publisher. My writing includes lifestyle, humor, travel, relationship, family, politics, faith and health articles, along with three published books. In my various careers, I've been a journalist, retail manager, nonprofit director, flight attendant, freelancer and mom. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and Medium.

Alpharetta, GA
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