There’s no better way to enjoy the outdoors than at the Firefly Trail in Athens, GA. Located in the heart of Downtown Athens, this planned 39-mile multi-use trail is accessible to people of all ages and conditions.
Here’s everything you need to know about the amazing trail.
Where it all began
Built in 1841, the historic Georgia Railroad has a number of bridges above the North Oconee River and Trail Creek. These bridges connect directly to Downtown Athens. The corridor of the railroad’s Athens branch was eventually abandoned.
Then in 2008, Mary Cook was working as a planning and zoning administrator for Oglethorpe County when she was invited to a Northeast Georgia Regional Commission meeting. During the meeting, Cook floated the idea of transforming the historic Georgia Railroad into a multi-use trail for recreation, transportation, and tourism. The majority of attendees agreed and thus, the conversion of the old railroad began.
As part of the said project, a nonprofit organization called Firefly Trail, Inc. was created. Funds for this endeavor were sourced through local options sales tax, transportation tax, and grants. Firefly Trail, Inc. also hosted various fundraisers such as bike rides and fun runs.
Construction of the Firefly Trail began in 2017. At present, only the East Broad Street, Dudley Park, Poplar Street, Inglewood Avenue, and Old Winterville Road trail entrances have been opened to the public. Soon, there will be paths leading to several other small towns before ending at Union Point.
The Firefly Trail starts at Broad Street and ends at Old Winterville Road. Along the way, you’ll cross the North Oconee River and pass through Dudley Park, the North Oconee River Greenway, and S. Poplar Street. Visitors are invited to walk, run, bike, and go rollerblading along the trail. Pets are allowed on the trail, as well.
The highlight of the Firefly Trail is its magnificent bridge spanning over 500 feet in length and 40 feet in height. This bridge passes over the North Oconee River, giving visitors stunning views of the surrounding area.
Visitors using the trail will be greeted by open fields and abundant pastures. Wildlife such as deer, armadillos, opossums, and coyotes can even be spotted. Those in the Winterville portion of the trail can also check out the Carter-Coile Doctor’s Museum, a historic building that showcases health care in rural America.
Due to the trail’s convenient location, you’ll also find several nearby attractions that are worth visiting:
- Dudley Park – This 32-acre park boasts of grassy fields, numerous picnic areas, and magnificent hardwood trees. It is also connected to several trails, including the Firefly Trail.
- North Oconee River Greenway – Located along the Oconee River, this multi-use trail spans 3 miles and is 10 feet wide. The trail can be used for walking, jogging, biking, and rollerblading.
- Trail Creek Park – Just minutes away from Downtown Athens, the 113-acre park houses a playground, splash pad, fitness zone, and several picnic pavilions. Various games and tournaments are held in the park as well.
- Mama’s Boy – Once you get hungry, head over to Mama’s Boy on Oak Street. The restaurant serves reasonably-priced Southern food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
How to get there
Located in Downtown Athens, the Firefly Trail is adjacent to Oak Street and Oconee Street. If you plan on bringing a car to the trail, parking is available in Dudley Park and at The Classic Center.