New trail to link northeast DeKalb neighborhoods to Emory and parks

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New trail to link northeast DeKalb neighborhoods to Emory and parks

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Ty Tagami/AJC

In much of Atlanta, you can’t get there from here, at least without a car.

That’s changing fast, though.

While the popularity of the BeltLine has been turning heads in the core of Atlanta, other car-free paths that shortcut the city and its clogged and dangerous roads have been arriving quickly. There’s the half-built PATH 400 through Buckhead, with a new link that opened around the New Year and more coming in the months and years ahead.

When complete, the PATH400 Greenway Trail will bisect one of metro Atlanta’s busiest job corridors, slicing through or flying above the gridlock. A final link, perhaps a decade out, will tie this new trail to the BeltLine near the I-85 bridge disaster.

And in a few weeks, there’ll be the extension of the forest boardwalk between Mason Mill and Medlock parks.

The new boardwalk will connect that existing trail -- and eventually Emory University and the BeltLine -- to neighborhoods in northeast DeKalb County.

Currently, that residential area is cut off from the two parks -- and their playgrounds, ball parks, tennis courts, library and other amenities -- by heavily-traveled North Druid Hills Road. The quiet neighborhood streets north of that artery don’t align with those to the south, forcing joggers or anyone on a bike to risk a run or ride along North Druid Hills Road to get to the other side.

Few try, since there is no right of way, and cars fly down that stretch.

Enter the PATH Foundation. Ed McBrayer, executive director of the foundation, said that in late June, the group, which has been building paths all around metro Atlanta, will open its latest boardwalk. Phase 4 of the South Peachtree Creek Trail is a new boardwalk that will connect Spring Creek Road, via crosswalk across North Druid Hills Road, to the well-used Mason Mill-to-Medlock trail.

This will open the parks to access without cars.

The new stretch covers a scenic half mile route above a creek and bogs. It’s easy to forget the nearby roar and fumes of traffic.

The South Peachtree Creek Trail extension from Mason Mill Park to North Druid Hills Road opens in late June. Ty Tagami/AJC

About a year from now, the foundation hopes to add a link from the boardwalks to Emory University, a major employer for the area. This could make commuting to work without a car a more reasonable option for many, especially as the traffic jams worsen in that fast-growing area.

And, said McBrayer, there’s more to come.

“Once Emory completes a bike route through the campus,” he said, “PATH plans to connect Emory to the Freedom Park Trail and the Atlanta BeltLine from Emory village.”

With PATH 400 eventually linking to Dunwoody, and maybe even crossing the Chattahoochie River to Roswell, you actually will be able to get there from here without a car.

The new extension of South Peachtree Creek Trail connects to a crosswalk on North Druid Hills Road, and the residential areas to the north. Ty Tagami/AJC
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