Lodging and other itinerary ideas for bicycle tourists who are planning multi-day endurance rides on the Silver Comet and adjoining Chief Ladiga Trail
Many people outside of the road-cycling community would be surprised to know how many cyclists travel 100 to 200 miles, or more, by automobile to ride their bikes for two or three days on this continuous paved path that stretches from the suburbs west of Atlanta all the way to Anniston, Alabama.
Coming from Tennessee, the Carolinas, south Georgia and beyond, you’ll see individuals and you’ll see couples. You’ll see SUVs full of riding buddies, and you’ll see large groups sometimes complete with their own support personnel. Some do this kind of thing once a month. For others, it’s a bucket-list biking vacation.
Combined, the Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga provide about 94 miles of smooth, mostly shaded path.
It’s surprisingly common for some of these visiting endurance athletes to start on one end of the trail, ride the entire distance — stay overnight — then ride back to the other end the next day for a total of up to 188 miles. Breaking it up into shorter rides is also common, and this trail — which is, in most areas, atop a flat former railroad bed — is the ideal place for the big ride that many have been training for.
While they’re in the region, many of the bicycle tourists stay in hotels, vacation rentals, bed-and-breakfasts or other lodging options for one, two or even three nights. They will frequent local restaurants for two or three meals per day.
If you’re like me the most important things for a trip like this — besides a well-prepared bike — are a good bed, peace and quiet, a good place for a long shower, good air conditioning, and good food. Here’s a breakdown of the best hotel options near the Silver Comet Trail and the Chief Ladiga Trail.
From east to west: The best hotels near the Silver Comet Trail
If you plan to start a multi-day ride at the Georgia end of the path, there are several dozen good hotels within a half hour of the Silver Comet Trail. I’m sure cyclists stay throughout the Atlanta area. There are certainly more post-ride opportunities for dining, shopping and nightlife in the suburbs than there are in the small cities that the trail passes through to the west. There are also a large number of hotels near the other end of the trail in the Anniston/Oxford, Alabama, area.
For this article, I emphasize accommodations that make it possible to safely ride your bicycle a short distance to the trail. Here are the choices offering easy access to the eastern terminus of the Silver Comet:
It’s an uphill half-mile bike ride from this Red Roof PLUS+ & Suites to the Silver Comet Connector. Or drive to the busy Mavell Road Trailhead from the hotel which is just off I-285 at exit 16 in the Smyrna/Vinings area.
The Mavell Road Trailhead (map) is where the original Silver Comet Trail eastern terminus was found, but now the Connector takes it further into the densely populated suburbs.
This Red Roof Inn features free breakfast and an outdoor pool. Nearby, a small cluster of hotels at I-285 exit 15 would also be within about 1.5 miles of the connector or 2.1 miles of the Mavell Road Trailhead. Those include:
All three of them feature indoor pools, free breakfast and pretty high bedding and cleanliness standards.
ITINERARY IDEA: If you’re looking for post-ride activities, the Smyrna/Vinings area hotels above are less than six miles from Truist Park, the home of the Atlanta Braves.
The Holiday Inn Express near Powder Springs is an excellent choice for bicycle touristshttps://www.ihg.com/holidayinnexpress/hotels/us/en/austell/atlps/hoteldetail?
Found seven miles west of the Mavell Road Trailhead, this Holiday Inn Express is only 0.7 of a mile from the beloved path. But, you can’t go directly to and from the trail unless you’re a bird. For riding your bike, the shortest route is 1.4 miles, and that takes you 0.8 of a mile down a busy highway and through an apartment complex that has its own trail connector. I’m sure you can get away with riding on the lightly used sidewalk if the highway traffic is too treacherous at the time of your visit.
At least a dozen restaurants are fairly near including a Zaxby’s that sits just outside the hotel’s front yard. A no-brainer for those who want to accumulate IHG Reward points, the hotel has an outdoor pool and free breakfast. Few hotel brands have higher bedding and cleanliness standards than IHG, so you can be confident in the comfort you’ll enjoy. Check the latest prices.
Three nice hotels in Hiram are near the Silver Comet Trail
Not very many years ago, Hiram was just a small village. Now it has shopping and dining options that stretch for about two miles along the busy U.S. Hwy. 278. It also has a trio of good chain hotels that are near enough to the trail for connecting by bicycle.
On the west side of all the shopping centers, the Country Inn & Suites by Radisson sits just 0.8 of a mile from the Silver Comet. Your short ride will be along roads that still feel rural. Across the four lane and a little to the east, the Best Western Inn & Suites is adjacent to a shopping center that’s anchored by a big sporting goods store and Hobby Lobby, putting it about 1.4 miles from the Silver Comet.
Over on the east side of the shopping centers that stretch along Hwy 278, the Sleep Inn & Suites (Choice Hotels) is only about 1,600 feet from the Silver Comet Trail. But the trail sits above Metromont Road on a steel and concrete bridge, and you can’t get up there without climbing. You can ride your bike from the hotel to the sidewalks on Bill Caruth Parkway where you’ll find a short spur that leads to the trail. That route is only 0.7 of a mile (map).
If you prefer to drive to an official trailhead, the Hiram Trailhead (map) has parking on each side of the Silver Comet and is within 1.5 miles of all three hotels. In addition, the Florence Road Trailhead (map) is only 2.7 miles from the Sleep Inn.
20 miles to the next name-brand hotel
Continuing to the west along the Silver Comet Trail, it will be more and more rural as you move away from the Atlanta metro area. You’ll find some of the most beautiful miles of trail starting near the city of Dallas. There will be less people on the trail, and the hotel choices will naturally grow thinner.
Currently, there are no nationally-known hotel chains in Dallas, but the area does have some of the trail’s best features including the 700-foot long Pumkinvine Trestle bridge, the Paudling Forest Wildlife Management Area and the 800-plus foot Brushy Mountain Tunnel.
West of the forest, you’ll find Rockmart, a small city with three hotels. I feel good about recommending one of them, the Econo Lodge Inn & Suites (Choice Hotels).
It has an outdoor pool and is located 1.8 miles north of the city’s historic downtown where you’ll find the Silver Comet Trailhead (map).
Relatively near to the midway point of the Silver Comet/Chief Ladiga, Rockmart is about 40 miles to the Georgia trail end, and about 55 miles to the Alabama end. That makes it a good choice for your multi-day bike trip basecamp.
There are four or five restaurants in the historic downtown, and it’s common for long-range cyclists from Atlanta to turn around here. You’ll see cyclists enjoying lunch at the deli, the barbecue restaurant, the Italian restaurant and the pizza joint on the other side of a creek that divides the downtown area while providing some great scenery.
Cedartown is another small city near the midway point
It’s 14 miles from the Rockmart Silver Comet Trailhead to the Cedartown Welcome Center (or Cedartown Depot). Both are among the best places to start a ride. The area between these cities has some nice scenery — both pastural and wooded. In that span, the trail is not on the railroad bed and you’ll find yourself dealing with some hilly places, particularly as you pass near to the Grady Road Landfill.
The actual midway point of the combined Silver Comet/Chief Ladiga path is near the landfill, which is a little closer to Cedartown than it is to Rockmart.
The Cedartown Depot is 50.6 miles from the Mavell Road Trailhead and 42.7 miles from the end of the Chief Ladiga Trail in Alabama.
Like Rockmart, basing a two-day trip from a hotel in Cedartown would be logical for those planning a pair of long out-and-back rides like going from Cedartown to Jacksonville one day, and from Cedartown to Hiram the next.
You can safely ride your bike right down Main Street from the Cedartown hotels to the depot. It’s less than two miles, and the historic downtown is beautiful. The best hotel choices are:
Both provide free breakfast. The Econo Lodge, which was once a Holiday Inn Express, features a heated indoor pool.
To learn more about the city, see my article: The historic Main Street business district steals the show in Cedartown.
It’s 10 miles from the Cedartown Depot to the state line, and the span features some more beautiful trail scenery. Once you’re in Alabama, you’ll be on the Chief Ladiga Trail, and most of the next 10.2 miles to the west are in, or adjacent to, the Talledega National Forest.
About three miles west of the forest, the Chief Ladiga Trail takes cyclists through the quaint small city of Piedmont which has a neat historic downtown and a popular trailhead known as the Eubanks Welcome Center.
The City Heart Inn & Suites has a good review rating on Google and a mixture of good and bad reviews on sites such as Travelocity, but you have to consider the expectations of those staying at an independent hotel.
It’s location allows for an easy bike ride or drive to the trail of just under a mile.
In addition, The Roberts Home Night-in-the-Museum Hotel offers an opportunity to stay in one of the Piedmont Historical Society’s museums, a 130-year old house that has been restored and moved to Southern Blvd., just two blocks from the Chief Ladiga Trail. (Google map)
For more about the city, see my article, Piedmont’s historic downtown in pictures.
The best hotels near the Chief Ladiga Trail
Hampton Inn Jacksonville is the best choice in Alabama near the trail, especially for Hilton Honors Reward members. Hilton’s high standards for bedding and cleanliness are enough to convince me. The hotel features free breakfast and a nice outdoor pool. Check the latest prices.
It’s a good hotel for those who want to ride their bikes directly from the hotel to the trail, or those who would rather drive a short distance to their choice of trailhead parking lots.
From the Hampton Inn, there are four good trail access points within two miles with light traffic:
- 1.5 miles to the Chief Ladiga Landing Trailhead (map)
- 1.5 miles to a trail spur behind the Jacksonville Community Center (map)
- 1.75 miles to the Jacksonville Train Depot, which has been restored to serves as a trail welcome center and event venue (map)
- 2 miles to a trail connector in front of Kitty Stone School (map)
Budget choice. If a low price is more important than earning Hilton Honors points, the nearby University Inn is typically about half the price. It’s only 1.4 miles from the University Inn to the trail spur in front of Kitty Stone School (map).
The Hampton Inn sits back in a grassy setting about 685 feet from Pelham Road, which is the city’s main street. The University Inn is found on the same thoroughfare.
Several restaurants are nearby. Huddle House, Captain D’s and Bojangles are all within a few yards of the Hampton Inn. The college town’s top restaurants include Effina’s Tuscan Grille, Struts, Jefferson’s, The Rocket, Yamato’s Steakhouse and Cooter Brown’s Rib Shack.
When you stay in one of the Jacksonville hotels, you'll be six miles from the end of the Chief Ladiga Trail and there will be about 88 miles of trail between you and Atlanta. That makes it a good choice for those who are riding the entire distance and then back again, or those planning an overnight stay following a one-way ride.
Anniston hotel choices
The trail ends just inside the northern edge of the Anniston city limits at Michael Tucker Park. Nearest to the park are five old independent hotels that were built between the 1950s and 1970s. Four are about two miles from the trailhead, another about 3.2 miles away. All five have some good and bad reviews on Google.
Finer, more expensive hotels are also found within driving distance. Hotel Finial, Best Western Premier Collection is 5.27 miles from the Michael Tucker Park trailhead. The unique hotel offers the choice of staying bed & breakfast-style in a hilltop c. 1888 historic house or hotel-style in a modern 3-story building.
Hotel Finial, BW Premier Collection, in Anniston
In addition, a cluster of six hotels is located about 9.5 miles away at I-20, exit 185, and another with no less than 10 hotels is located at exit 188 which is about 10.8 miles from the trailhead.
Camping or renting a cabin near the Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga Trail
In addition to the clusters of hotels near each end, and those hotels found in the small cities in between, there are also a couple of nice campgrounds for RVs or tents — one in Georgia, and two in Alabama. Plus, a small, wooded tent-camping area known as Camp Comet is found in Georgia at the base of a ridge between Rockmart and Cedartown very near to the Don Williams Trailhead. Here are some maps to help you pinpoint the camping options:
- The Beautiful Rock Campground, RV, and Music Park in Georgia (map)
- Chief Ladiga Trail Campground in Alabama (map)
- Michael Tucker Park camping (at the Chief Ladiga terminus in Anniston)
- Camp Comet map
In a small, lovely valley within view of the paved biking trail, the Chief Ladiga Campground boasts a beautiful setting in the Talladega National Forest complete with a creek and access to the Pinhoti Trail. Only 7-miles from Piedmont and 17 miles from Cedartown, it’s a place where you can park your RV — or put up your tent — then ride your bike, kayak and hike into an amazing forest full of ridges and wildlife — all in the same morning, if you please.
You can set up your tent or RV alongside Terrapin Creek at the Chief Ladiga Trail Campground
In regard to vacation rental cabins and houses, naturally there are more Vrbo and Airbnb options in the Atlanta suburbs that are convenient to the trail than you will find in the rural areas to the west. Sample Vrbo and Airbnb listings:
|Vrbo.com: Cottage on the Chief Ladiga Trail|
The driveway and trail intersect in front of the house!
Sleeps up to 10.
|Airbnb.com: Search "Manor at Becks Lake"|
|Airbnb.com: Jacksonville search|
Overnight accommodation choices are good for those planning two- or three-day rides on the Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga Trail. Put plenty of thought into the place where you’ll sleep, and you’ll rest better and hopefully be able to ride farther and faster if you wish.
Whether you’re a solo rider or part of a large group, or something in between, the scenery and the 94-miles of smooth pavement will provide plenty of memories for your bicycle adventure.
This article is the second of three parts of the Silver Comet/Chief Ladiga Trail trip-planner. For a larger version of the map, trailhead details and more photos, go to part 1: Biking the Silver Comet Trail and the Chief Ladiga Trail.
For detailed answers to frequently asked questions, see part 3: The Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga Trail: Everything you need to know before you go.