Calhoun is just over an hour northwest of Atlanta and less than an hour south of Chattanooga — too far for city stress or traffic, but close enough to access plenty of creature comforts. When you’re ready for a day of urban adventure, the dog park and 185 acres of Frederick Olmstead-designed landscape with Midtown skyline views await you in Piedmont Park in Atlanta. Or, hit the 10-mile walking path on the Tennessee Riverpark in historic Downtown Chattanooga.
With four veterinary practices in Calhoun (two of which open early for pre-commute visits), your pups will stay in tip-top shape. Though sidewalks are inconsistent, many well-kept neighborhoods have light traffic and are safe to explore by foot. The affluent new subdivisions just north of Calhoun Elementary School are pawticularly comfortable and easy to reach from the school parking lot.
Park-ing is easy in Calhoun. The city’s dog-walking hotspot is the 125-acre Calhoun Recreation Park — “The Rec” in local lingo — and especially the paved trail around the perimeter. With the park’s ballfields and playgrounds on one side and the shady shores of Oothkalooga Creek on the other, you and your buddy don’t have to choose between people-watching and peace and quiet. You’ll also find neighborhood pocket parks downtown and on River Street: the landscaped BB&T City Park is a pawpular picnic spot, and Palmer Memorial Park has a playground with grassy lawns.
The New Echota State Historic Site lies on the northern edge of the New Town neighborhood of Calhoun, 4 miles from downtown, and allows leashed pets on trails and in outdoor areas (but not inside buildings, please). This landmark was the capital of the Cherokee Nation before serving as the launching point of the tragic Trail of Tears. During its early-19th century peak, the town produced the first Cherokee-language newspaper and served as the center of tribal government. You and your buddy can stroll among the 12 historic buildings on the site and venture into the surrounding forest on the park’s nature trails. Remember the waste bags: Given the historical and cultural importance of the site, it’s especially important to clean up any messes.
The Johns Mountain Wildlife Management Area sprawls for 25,000 wilderness acres just west Calhoun. Since the preserve is as popular with hunters as it is with hikers, use caution during hunting season and add bright orange to both your outfit and your buddy's. With danger comes reward: Johns Mountain provides some of the best views available of Georgia’s Valley and Ridge geographic region. For a challenging hike, park at the upper Johns Mountain lot and hike the steep 3.6 mile Johns Mountain Loop Trail. Or, summit via the 1.8-mile loop Keown Falls Trail, which also features overlooks of the seasonal waterfall. Shorter and easier trails dot the WMA, so check out the interactive map on the GA Department of Natural Resources website. When hiking in such remote country, always bring water, a strong leash, and emergency supplies to keep you and your buddy safe.
At 364 forested acres, Salacoa Creek Park is a dog-friendly destination only 13 miles from Calhoun, just northeast of the tiny town of Ranger, GA. The park’s lakeside campground welcomes pets, and the 1.5-mile nature trail is free to use for on-leash fun. Though pups may not be welcome at the human beach area, they can still get their splash on in the 126-acre lake. Additional hiking is available around Carter’s Lake to the northeast of Ranger. The Talking Rock Nature Trail is a 2.1-mile moderate journey with outstanding views of the lake and woods, just hard enough to really wear your puppies out. Note that the trailhead gate is locked at 5 pm, so plan your return accordingly.