Summertime is tough on even the most dedicated exercise aficionado, with Georgias double-whammy of high daily temperatures and stifling humidity. But if you're determined to maintain your outdoor routine despite the summer heat, trading shaded paths for your usual walking, running or riding route may be the answer.
A natural canopy of thick leaves will block the sun, drop the temperature and hold in some of the natural, cooling moisture. That combination can deliver improved exercise conditions as compared to environments exposed to direct sunlight. Plus, it's likely you'll benefit from better oxygen levels to feed your lungs in a plant-and-tree-rich environment.
Here are a few of our favorite shaded walking, running and riding paths in the area northwest of Atlanta:
Allatoona Pass Battlefield Park. This former railroad route is flat, offers a leaf canopy, plus places to dip your feet (or more!) into Lake Allatoona. Plus, a deep cut through the largest hill will provide some natural air conditioning, thanks to geothermal effects.
Noses Creek Trail. This shaded walk through a less-traveled area of Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Park offers a few different options, depending on your fitness and curiosity. The main trail from Burnt Hickory Road to Dallas Highway is a wide, shell-covered, gradually-sloping 3.0-mile round-trip route shared by hikers and horses. Side trails will take you deeper into the surrounding woods, but also require more up-and-down travel.
East and West Palisades. Part of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, these forested preserves straddle Interstates 75 and 275 in southern Cobb County. Our favorite paths follow the Chattahoochee River, offering frequent views at riverside. A bamboo forest also is a hidden surprise at East Palisades. Stick to the riverside routes if you want to avoid the more challenging terrain.
Silver Comet Trail. This multi-use, hard surfaced recreational trail feels like a forest tunnel, with hills often rising at your sides and thick canopy overhead. You'll find shaded walks near virtually every trailhead. If you start at Concord Road Trailhead at mile 2.6, it's a short walk to Nickajack Creek, where a long, high-elevation train trestle offers views of the creek valley far below. Similarly, starting at the Rambo Road Trailhead at mile marker 22.2, it's a 0.7 miles walk west to the 126-foot-tall Pumpkinvine Creek trestle one of the most iconic landmarks on the trail.
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