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DO IT: Hiking - Alpharetta Big Creek Greenway

Alpharetta Big Creek Greenway - Alpharetta

The Alpharetta Big Creek Greenway is an 8.3-mile linear trail that runs along Big Creek through the City of Alpharetta, GA. Beyond the city limits, the trail reaches the cities of Roswell to the south and will eventually connect with existing sections in Forsyth County.

In Alpharetta, the trail runs from Mansell Road/Big Creek Park in the south to Marconi Road in the north. The Greenway continues into Roswell to the south past Mansell Road and Big Creek Park.

The Greenway is popular for residents of Alpharetta and nearby areas, accommodating activities like hiking, walking, running, dog-walking, biking, and inline skating. The Greenway is 12-feet wide in most sections, has no at-grade road crossings and is either paved or boardwalk, making it ideal for wheelchair or stroller access. It is open from dusk until dawn daily.

Biking is a popular activity on the Greenway and several trail entrances have Zagster Bike Share Stations. Bicyclists should know that the maximum speed on the Greenway is 15 mph. The mixed used nature of the Greenway makes speed riding difficult and potentially dangerous. Greenway regulations also state that cyclists and skaters must wear helmets while on the trail.

There are restrooms at the Alpharetta Family YMCA and Kimball Bridge parking areas (Rockmill Park) and at the southern end of Big Creek Park. Users will find a few nature trails as side excursions; however, those trails are not calculated in total linear mileage. Since the Greenway was constructed along the Big Creek habitat, many animals can be seen from the path including wild turkeys, green herons, and deer.

Because the trail encompasses several marshy areas, flooding can occur, making certain sections of the trail inaccessible during rainy periods. Check the trail’s website for condition updates.

With so many great access points along the Alpharetta Big Creek Greenway, it was hard to pick a favorite. Rock Mill Park, which sits just off Kimball Bridge, is roughly the halfway point of the trail and has plenty of amenities for you and your group to access before, during, and after your time on the Greenway.

Besides plentiful parking, Rock Mill Park has public restrooms, which a must for family groups and will help start your trip off on the right foot. Rock Mill also has a pavilion and picnic table to enjoy the scenery, have a meal, and catch your breath after a nice ride or walk on the Greenway. If you’re visiting or don’t want to lug your bike to the trail access, adult bike rentals are available at this site through a Zagster Bike Share Station.

The trailhead access for this recommended section of the Greenway is on the northeast side of the parking area adjacent to the restrooms. Navigate the access trail to the pathway and turn left, heading north.

This initial section of the trail is on the west side to Big Creek and traverses the lowlands, a good distance from residential areas compared to other sections of the trail. Even in the middle of a city, you can still find a peaceful slice of nature. There is also a slight incline in this section, although it may be too gradual to even notice.

It’s about 1.8 miles from the start at Rock Mill to the underpass of Old Milton Parkway and it’s another 0.5 miles to the Alpharetta Family YMCA. Users traveling in groups, especially groups with small children, should consider a water/restroom break and assess the group’s ability to continue the remaining distance on the recommended pathway. Remember, this is an out and back trail, so the distance you cover on the way out is also traveled on the return trip.

After the YMCA stop, the Greenway turns left and takes a more northerly bearing as it passes Alpharetta High School a good distance west. During the summer, this highly forested section is well-shaded. In 0.7 miles, the Greenway reaches Webb Bridge Road, running parallel to the road for 0.2 miles before passing under.

The final 0.8 miles require a climb of 125 feet to reach the Big Creek Greenway Marconi Drive access. It is 4.0 miles to the Marconi access; riders, walkers, or runners will return the way they came to complete the out and back trek.

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