Just 22 miles from Downtown Atlanta, Stockbridge is a bustling suburb with a lot of creature comforts. There are a pet supply store and three veterinarians in town, a 24-hour emergency vet less than half an hour away in Fayetteville, and a wide range of specialty pet boutiques and vet care nearby; your pups will have their every need met.
Doggy Date Night should include a nice meal, don’t you think? There are six dog-friendly restaurants right in Stockbridge (and hundreds in the metro-Atlanta area). We recommend the comfy covered patio at Benchwarmers Sports Bar and Grill. You know how hot it gets in a Georgia summer, and Benchwarmers has ceiling fans plus a staff happy to bring your fur family some ice cold water.
If date night dining turns into love handles, never fear: Stockbridge is a great access point for some hardcore hiking. Running from Panola Mountain in northeast Stockbridge north to Lithonia, the Arabia Mountain Trail is a 12.5-mile converted rail line that now offers a smooth, well-maintained trail for on-leash dogs accompanied by their favorite humans (plus bikers and hikers and other people). Moving through hillier terrain, the 33-mile PATH trail system (which also connects to Panola Mountain through a spur trail) is a winding route through forests, meadows, and wetlands. PATH trails are maintained by a local nonprofit that obviously loves dogs almost as much as we do, and you can download a trail map from their website.
Let’s start with the bad news: Stockbridge city bylaws prohibit pets in city-run parks. (Kind of seems like they missed the point of parks, right?) Here’s the good news: There are two excellent exceptions to that rule. The first — and probably your fur-baby’s favorite — is the off-leash dog park in Clark Community Park on Davis Road, with spots for big dogs and big-at-heart dogs to play separately. The park provides human restrooms, poo bags, and water. The regulars say that the park is usually busy and full of new friends. Second, just a few blocks away is the Reeves Creek Trail. These three paw-friendly paved miles stretch from Memorial Park to the trailhead on Flippen Road (where you’ll also find a cute little book exchange).
With a Stockbridge mailing address but operated by the Henry County government, the 115-acre Hidden Valley Park welcomes on-leash dogs for a day of play. The park has a paved walking/jogging track for working off some energy, plus grassy areas for frolicking around the playgrounds, ballfields, athletic courts, picnic areas, and senior center. You know what all that human activity means? Nonstop petting by random people who want to tell your pup what a good boy he is. (And he really is. And who doesn’t like nonstop petting?) Human restrooms and water fountains are available, but bring a doggy water dish and waste bags.
The northeastern edge of Stockbridge is home to the 1,600-acre Panola Mountain State Park, part of the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area. This geologically significant area features two of metro-Atlanta’s three monadnocks (a funny-sounding word for isolated rock mountains like Panola and Arabia, and also Stone Mountain about 30 miles northeast, that rise sharply above the land around them). You can ponder the beautiful rock formations while your fur family sniffs out the unique local eco-system including five endangered species — so please keep your friends on-leash and on the trail. Panola Mountain has 25 miles of hiking trails for you and your on-leash buds, and there's a paved walking path that is perfect for tender paws. Or, rent a canoe and take the pups out for a dog-paddle on the lake.
Just 9 miles from Stockbridge near Morrow, the Reynolds Nature Preserve is a four-legged hiker’s paradise. Though dogs are required to stay on leash, they are welcome at this 146-acre sanctuary from the city’s hustle and bustle. You’ll have more than three miles of trail to bark at, winding through wetlands and hardwood forest to peaceful spring-fed ponds — like wilderness, just a lot closer. There’s also some local history in Morrow that your dog will find just as interesting as you will: the birthplace of that oh-so-Southern delicacy, Chick-fil-A. Truett’s Grill was the original family restaurant that spawned a drive-thru classic, and their six dog-friendly outdoor tables will give your fur family a taste of the good life!
If your dogs want a real urban day out, consider the new Atlanta Beltline. This converted railway/urban park will eventually encircle the entire downtown. For now, the Westside and Eastside Trails are both open for your pack to walk off a week’s worth of stress. While there are many pretty stretches of natural beauty along the Beltline, it’s the views of the skyline, the food vendors, and galleries that will keep you coming back every weekend. All the friendly neighbors and interesting smells will keep your on-leash friends as entertained as you. There is a convenient access point to the Eastside trail about 17 miles from Stockbridge on Memorial Drive at Reynoldstown.