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Duluth Massage

Big Creek Greenway Alpharetta
Georgia Trails

Trail Length: 7.5 miles Type of trail: In and out
County: Fulton County, GA Our rating: E
Features: river, paved, handicapped, fishing, bathrooms, 60hikes Your rating:
Usage: Heavy Added on: December 15, 2000
Last hiked: October 04, 2015 Updated on: November 29, 2015
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Additional Trails
Hiking trails in Fulton County, GA

Directions to Big Creek Greenway Alpharetta

Original entrance to Big Creek Greenway
Synopsis: Big Creek Greenway features 7.5 miles of 8-foot wide concrete track, a 0.4 mile wood chip path, and a combination mountain bike and hiking trail, all of which meanders through a flood plain formed by Big Creek. With less than a 100 foot gain over the course of the trail, this hike is pretty much level. It is paved, with the exception of the hiking trail, the mountain biking/hiking trail, and the "boardwalk", a section of Greenway between the original Northpoint entrance and the original end of the trail about 600 feet north of Mansell Road. Bikes are not permitted on the boardwalk section.

Today, Alpharetta's Big Creek Greenway stretches from Marconi Drive off Windward Parkway to Beaver Creek Road near GA 400 south of Northpoint Mall. The exact measurement of the distance is 7.49 miles, but there are many alternate mileages.

History of Big Creek Greenway

Enjoying a stroll on the Greenway
In a single day thousands of cars streamed by an obscure driveway just north of the Ethan Allen store at North Point Mall. For those that did stop Big Creek Greenway offered peace and quiet from a hectic day at the office or a tranquil moment after a couple of hours of power shopping.

Rob Warrilow, engineer for the city of Alpharetta, visited his son in college in Colorado in 1995. He saw a local trail and recorded a video to show the city council what he wanted to do in the 100-year flood plain of Big Creek behind Northpoint Mall. Members of the council enthusiastically supported his idea and he was off making plans and seeking funding. A 2.3 mile section of Big Creek (basically behind Northpoint Mall) opened in 2002. Both Roswell and Forsyth County quickly jumped on the bandwagon and began studying ways to extend Big Creek Greenway into their communities.

Roswell's section of the trail connected to the original trail in 2010 and Alpharetta continued upstream along Big Creek in three sections, the final section (to the Marconi Road entrance) completed in 2011. Forsyth County's Big Creek Greenway starts at McFarland Road and travels upstream to the Bethelview entrance. The fourth phase of the trail was completed in 2015.

Natural History

Bird house on Big Creek
Large wildlife still call Big Creek Greenway home. We have seen deer (bucks and doe), wild turkey and copperheads from the paved path and many smaller mammals from the wood-chip path that runs through a swampy marsh. Along this area a number of houses have been built, designed to attract wild birds of the area. During the summer the marsh is alive with songbirds. The winter tends to attract finches, bluebirds and an occasional cardinal.

This wide trail is well maintained and normally passable even after heavy rains, although appropriate footwear should be worn. Since this is a marshy area, be careful with young children and dogs because snakes may be a problem.

Overview of sections

Big Creek Greenway Alpharetta Section 1

Section 1 begins at the Marconi Drive entrance to the park, quickly joining the river after a easy downhill section. After joining the creek be sure to note the large trees in the riparian zone of the river. These will continue to the end of the trail at Beaver Creek Road. Highlights of Section 1 include the Webb Bridge Road underpass and the hike/mountain bike trail. It ends at the Alpharetta YMCA on Preston Ridge Drive.

Big Creek Greenway Alpharetta Section 2

Section 2 begins at Preston Ridge drive and follows Big Creek southwest to the Mansell Road underpass before passing under the Northpoint Community Church Bridge. Section 2 ends at Rock Mill Park.

Big Creek Greenway Alpharetta Section 3

Section begins at Rock Mill Park, passes under Kimball Bridge Road and enters an area surrounded by housing and commercial developments that only occasionally intrude on the peaceful serenity of Big Creek Greenway. South of Haines Bridge the trail joins the original section of greenway. Section 3 ends where the side trail from Northpoint Mall (the original entrance) joins the Greenway

Big Creek Greenway Alpharetta Section 4

Section 4 extends from the original entrance to the Mansell Road underpass, then on to the current end of the trail at Beaver Creek Road.

Cattails in the riparian zone of Big Creek
The path continues to a wide, elevated bridge over the area, permitting excellent views of the flora and fauna of the swamp. Leaving the bridge, birdhouses can be spotted to right. The path skirts the northern end of the swamp, across a storm drain from the shopping center next to the park, then cuts back through the center of the marsh. This area of the trail can be muddy at times. From here the path joins a small tributary of Big Creek that drains the swamp. Shortly the path comes to a staircase that rises to the paved path.

Flowers, Big Creek Greenway
From this point there are three options. To the right, the path rises slowly to Mansell Road. It is an easy climb. Ahead the path crosses Big Creek and follows the south bank of the creek back to the center of the park. To your right a boardwalk returns you to the southern edge of the swamp, following the northern bank of the river. Half-a-mile on either trail and the paths meet at a second bridge across Big Creek.

Take a couple of minutes to view the creek from the vantage point of the bridge crossing. Strewn with logs to the point of being impassible the creek creates an unusual scene just a few feet from a popular north Georgia mall. Returning to the 4-way intersection from the bridge the paved path to the right takes you towards Haynes Bridge Road, now continueing some 5 miles north from Haynes Bridge to Webb Bridge Road.

After you pass under the bridge the path to the parking at Haynes Bridge comes off to the left. The path continues, winding through the low marsh near the river. As you approach Kimball Bridge Road the footpath curves, running parallel to, but not next to this main road. The path rises to the street, crossing at a traffic light. From the road it returns quickly to the river.

From Kimball Bridge to Old Milton Parkway (1.6 miles) the Big Creek floodplain widens and the amount of birds and mammals increases. The path passes under heavily travelled Old Milton Parkway and continues north past a series of apartment homes. The distance between Old Milton and Webb Bridge Road is 1.2 miles. At .3 miles north of Old Milton is the parking lot for the north end, which is really along the side of the street. As you pass the YMCA building, above you on the left, the park once again becomes a more tranquil, less used setting. At .75 miles north of Old Milton an unmarked path comes off to the right, just after a bridge. A brief walk down the path is a trail head with map and directions for enjoying an off-path experience. This combined mountain bike-hiking trail is enjoyable and feature a quick climb up a rise.

The trail currently ends at Marconi Road, south of Windward Dr., however the city of Alpharetta intends to expand it further north to connect with the Forsyth County Big Creek Greenway.

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Big Creek Greenway Alpharetta Section 1
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