Not too long ago, Mableton, Georgia was a small agricultural community and railway stop. While the town still retains some of its Southern charm, Atlanta’s suburban sprawl has brought a lot of hustle and bustle into Mableton’s daily life. At over 37,000 residents not far outside the I-285 perimeter, it remains the largest unincorporated community in the metro area. Mabletonians can get to Downtown Atlanta in just over 20 minutes, at least if traffic is kind.
There’s plenty of creature comfort to be had near Mableton. Your pup can stay in top-dog shape with one veterinarian in town and two more in adjacent Austell, where you'll also find three pet supply stores. A quick trip up the East-West Connector lands you in Vinings at the Whole Dog Market, and your pups will be so entranced by their locally-sourced rawhide treats and wide range of premium foods that they might not notice the self-service dog wash stations. There are two off-leash dog parks off South Cobb Drive in nearby Smyrna: the Lake Court Dog Park is open late, but the Burger Dog Park has separate areas for small and large dogs.For some on-leash exploration, try the Heritage Park Trail along Nickajack Creek just past Concord Road on the East-West Connector; it winds through the historic mill area near the Concord Covered Bridge. Thompson Park has a wooded picnic spot near the pond for a quick stretch, and neighborhood parks in Austell and Smyrna are easily accessible in every direction.
The Silver Comet Trail is a paved converted railway that is now the area's most pawpular hiking and cycling route. Open to leashed dogs and horses but closed to motorized vehicles, the trail can be so quiet that you forget you’re in the middle of a metro area of 4 million people. There’s a trail access point on Floyd Rd. in Mableton, at the trail's 4.2-mile marker. For a quick 8-mile round trip, head towards the eastern trailhead in Smyrna. But if you really want to get out of town, just walk west. The 61-mile Silver Bullet Trail intersects with the 33-mile Chief Ladiga Trail at the Alabama state line, so you can walk your way to Anniston, AL if Spot is up to the challenge.
Sweetwater Creek State Park in Lithia Springs is just over 8 miles from Mableton — practically your backyard — but that’s just the beginning of your adventure. Sweetwater Creek is part of the Tails on Trails Club of the Georgia State Parks system. Pick up your puppy passport at the ranger station, and hike either the 2-mile Red Trail or the 5-mile loop White Trail, both of which lead to the ruins of a historic mill. If you and your furry friend collect ranger stamps at seven participating state parks for completing some of the state’s most scenic hikes, you’ll receive a free t-shirt and Spot will get a matching bandana. Don’t rush off to the next stop, though: at over 2,500 acres with a 200-acre lake, Sweetwater Creek has plenty more fun to sniff out.
For an urban adventure on foot, make a beeline to the Atlanta BeltLine, the mixed-use trail network that encircles the city for several miles. More than a trail, the BeltLine is also a string of parks, green space, shopping, food vendors, and art galleries built along converted railway tracks. A major investment for Atlanta government, business, and conservation groups, the BeltLine is a source of major civic pride. The Westside trailhead in Washington Park is just 12 miles from Mableton, and with so much to see and taste — and so many neighbors to meet and sniff — your pack could come back every weekend.
16 miles from Mableton, the Kennesaw National Battlefield Historic Site is both beautiful and nerdily fascinating. There are 18 miles of interpretive trails. You’ll learn about the local flora and fauna, and, of course, the 1864 Civil War battle where General Sherman faced off with Confederate Forces on his march to Atlanta. (It was a setback for the Union, but if you’ve seen Gone With the Wind, you know how things worked out.) You can also hike up Kennesaw Mountain, a right-of-passage for every weekend hiker in the area. Pets must stay on-leash, and remember that it gets hot in Georgia; water is not available on the trails, so be sure you bring plenty for you and your fur family.
The (hopefully) half-hour ride to Piedmont Dog Park is an absolute must for any suburban dog. The park has three fenced acres for off-leash play with separate small- and large-dog enclosures, plus human bathrooms and benches, and even weekend concessions with doggy pupsicles for hot summer days. All of this is set in the beautiful landscape of Olmstead-designed Piedmont Park, 189 acres of winding paths and rolling lawns for your on-leash exploration. With 10 dog-friendly restaurants with outdoor seating within three blocks of the park, you can spend a whole day in one of Atlanta’s most pup-friendly neighborhoods. If you want to learn more about its rich history, you can even bring Spot along on the Atlanta Historical Society’s walking tours.