Near the Georgia-Alabama line, between Atlanta and Birmingham, Rockmart is a small town with big connections. There are three pet-friendly restaurants in Rockmart, and with an animal hospital right in town, your pups will get plenty of care.
Rockmart’s doggy hot spot is the Silver Comet Trail, with one trailhead just south of the Historic District and another at Nathan Dean Park in northwest Rockmart. This 61.5-mile converted railway is now one of western Georgia’s most pawpular destinations for biking and hiking. The trail starts in Smyrna near the Atlanta perimeter and ends at the Alabama state line, where it intersects with the 33-mile Chief Ladiga Trail. Whether you decide to head east or west from Rockmart, be sure to bring waste bags and plenty of water.
You’ll never run out of trail in this part of Georgia. The Pinhoti Trailhead in Cedartown offers a much more remote setting and rugged hike. The trail itself spans for 335 miles, although your pups will likely wear out long before you reach either end. The trail’s website reminds visitors that this is “NOT the Silver Comet” because it is much less heavily trafficked and has fewer amenities, so bring plenty of water and make sure you stay on the marked path.
Rockmart has a friendly Southern charm, so grab a leash and go meet your neighbors! Explore the lovely Rockmart Historic District on foot; not only are the sidewalks wide and comfy, but the district is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The neighborhood comprised of Beauregard, Water, Elm, and Marble Streets features two century-old churches as well as historic commercial and agricultural buildings that date from the community’s roots as a mill town. As long as you’re immersed in history, try the peaceful walking paths of the historic cemetery on Elm Street. Just a block away is the dog-friendly outdoor seating at local eatery, the Knucklehead Cafe.
Cartersville is 18 miles from Rockmart, and three furrific parks are clustered among the community’s rolling green hills. Sam Smith Park offers the lovely 2.6-mile Etowah Riverwalk, which is paved and easy on tender paws. If you or your furry friend is in training, you can download a certified 5K course map on the park’s webpage. Just next door to Sam Smith is Dellinger Park, connected via the Riverwalk. Dellinger has two walking paths and trailside exercise equipment to amp up your workout, but the gravel surface of these trails may be tough on paws. The Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site features massive earthworks created by Native American tribes between 1000 and 1550 AD, and while pets can’t join you in the interpretive museum, they are welcome to join you on trails throughout the site as long as they stay on-leash.
The Pettit Environmental Preserve in Dallas is 19 miles from Rockmart. This 70-acre wilderness protects century-old trees, and the walking paths welcome your on-leash friends. The longest is the 1.7-mile loop trail that circles the lake, and regulars love that it has deep shade during summer. There is a rock amphitheater and a waterfall on the far side of the lake, perfect for taking a break or maybe a picnic during your walk. You can also add length to your journey with several shorter side trails that connect to the loop. Remember water and waste bags, and don’t be surprised if you cross paths with a gaggle of schoolkids: the Pettit Preserve is a popular field trip destination.
Rome, Georgia is about 20 miles from Rockmart and home to beautiful Berry College. Though it has a small student population, the wooded campus with a working farm sprawls over 27,000 acres. With more than 40 miles of hiking trails, Berry will keep you coming back weekend after weekend. Get a full trail map on the Berry website: there are trailheads on both the main campus and rural mountain campus, connected by the 3.5-mile Viking Trail. The 8-mile Snow Loop Trail is the most challenging, while the 0.3-mile Longleaf Trail is the shortest. Leashed dogs are welcome to join you for a furrific adventure.
Red Top Mountain State Park is almost 1,800 acres and the gateway to 12,000-acre Lake Allatoona. Water-loving dogs will want to stay forever: whether you paddle out in a canoe, splash on the shoreline, or just enjoy a sunset over the water, your on-leash pups are welcome to join you. The park has 15 miles of trails. The short paved trail behind the visitor’s center leads to a historic homestead, while the 4-mile gravel Iron Hill Trail has wonderful views of the water. The 1-mile loop White Tail Trail, though, comes with a bonus: it’s part of the Georgia State Park’s Tails on Trails Club. If you and your furbaby hike seven of the state’s best park trails, including White Tail, you can earn a matching t-shirt and bandana. Just pick up a club booklet at the ranger station and get it stamped at each of the seven parks.