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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