|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – February 2006
Hiking, climbing, and fishing in this New South boomtown.
It's home to the world's busiest airport and some of Dixie's tallest skyscrapers. But Atlanta's visitors aren't confined to CNN tours: There's granite to grab, brown trout to haul from an ice-cold river, and green patches ripe for hiking. Here's how to get your wild on in this New South boomtown.
Just 2 miles northeast of downtown, Piedmont Park provides Houdini-like escapes from the urban jungle. Try the 1.7-mile Park Loop Trail, which leads past the Circle of Trees, a living sculpture of hardwoods; 11.5-acre Lake Clara Meer, originally formed by a natural spring; and scores of historic stone balustrades. The North Woods's imminent expansion (it's presently off-limits) will increase the park's usable acreage by 40 percent. www.piedmontpark.org
Boat Rock hosted one of the nation's first climbing competitions in 1985; its pioneers now bring their teenage kids. More than 150 problems on granite await-only because locals saved them from developers' dozers. Warm up on Easy Crack, a 2-inch-wide rift extending up 15 feet with small holds (V0-). Then ramp up Paint Can Boulder, a 10-foot hunk with a sit-down start and dime- and credit-card-sized nubs. www.seclimbers.org
The 9,000-acre Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area lies along a 48-mile stretch of the nation's southernmost trout stream-one of just a few in the world to run through a major metro area. Starting this year, thanks to a change in fish-stocking practices, you can cast to a growing population of wild browns. Reach honey holes from near Bowmans Island and between Morgan Falls and Paces Mill. Or take a float-and-fish trip with River Through Atlanta. www.nps.gov/chat