The Antebellum Trail Association was established in 1984 to welcome travelers into seven historic communities that were spared Sherman’s burning march through Georgia. If by design or coincidence, we are grateful that these towns still thrive today.
In addition to the wonderful architecture and preservation of these communities, the countryside surrounding them is as breathtaking as the towns are beautiful. Learn more about the tourism opportunities of the Antebellum Trail.
Rolling Along The Antebellum Trail Bicycle Route (ATBR)
“Share the Road” signs are in place inside the city limits of most of the Antebellum towns (especially the larger populated areas). The majority of the bike lanes on the route are in the city limits of Athens and Milledgeville due to the large number of college students who rely on bicycles for transportation.
Outside of the towns on the countryside roads, most of the street options will offer either a small shoulder or no shoulder at all. The route has been designed to include the lowest traffic roadway options in the region, with speed limits varying between 25 to 50 MPH.
PLEASE SEE SPECIAL NOTES REGARDING THE ROADS BETWEEN ATHENS AND WATKINSVILLE.
The typical motorists in “these parts” are considerate of bicyclists, and along a majority of the rural roadways you will only encounter a handful of cars per hour during weekday travel. The most desirable touring times are non-rush hour weekdays (between 9:30 am and 3:30 pm) and early morning weekends.
Bike lanes, wide shoulders, bike riders and considerate motorists are in abundance in the city limits of Athens. As you travel away from town, less bike infrastructure is available, but most motorists take careful consideration while sharing the road with bikes.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE ROUTE BETWEEN ATHENS AND WATKINSVILLE
Barnett Shoals is a popular bicycle transportation route for local experienced cyclists who are accustomed to riding on hilly roads with no shoulder and the occasional car or truck passing close and fast. Local cyclists who use this road, admit it is not for everyone — however, it is considered the first choice for the most seasoned local cyclists in need of getting between these towns. Without the proper skills and fortitude, the portion of Barnett Shoals Road (5 miles south of Athens and 4 miles east of Watkinsville) will prove to be stressful and potentially dangerous. If you do not fit the profile of “seasoned, strong, serious and thrill seeking”, we recommend you explore the Bicycle Loops (coming in July, 2014) and transport your bike between these towns. The cycling community in Athens is very strong and there is plenty to do on two wheels during your stay in Athens.
Just south of Athens, you’ll discover the quaint town of Watkinsville, also known as the “Artland of Georgia”. This friendly town is a thriving artist’s community, known for its small town charm, restaurants, and numerous galleries. Step back in time as you tour the Eagle Tavern Museum and be sure to visit one of the most unique antique stores in the area. As you ride south of Bishop you can catch a glimpse of the Clydesdales out running as you enjoy the scenic rolling countryside. Learn more about Watkinsville, GA.
South another 30 miles along the ATBR you will arrive in Madison, most known as the “#1 Small Town in America” by Travel Holiday Magazine and recently recognized in 2012 by Budget Travel Magazine as one of the “World’s Top 16 Most Picturesque Villages.” Madison has also been host to Bike Ride Across Georgia’s Spring Tune Up for well over 20 years and riders most boast on the vibrancy of the downtown and the beauty that abounds along the countryside routes.
Throughout the year, cyclists explore these scenic and low traveled roadways inside and surrounding Madison. With 4 house museums and old school house (open for touring year-round), 14 eateries, and over 160 boutique shops to browse while your stretching your legs, Madison will be sure to offer up that healthy dose of southern hospitality before heading to the next town. Learn more about Madison, GA
Continuing the ATBR south approximately 33 miles, you’ll travel over the gently rolling countryside and arrive at the beautiful town center of Eatonton, the hometown of authors Joel Chandler Harris and Alice Walker.
A highlight is The Uncle Remus Museum, located just three blocks from the courthouse. Eleven miles from the town center you will find Southern Manor Farms, the childhood home of Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple. The visitor center is a great place to discover Eatonton’s history and learn about other activities the area has to offer, including local dining and shopping on the town square. Learn more about Eatonton, GA.
Located 40 miles south from Eatonton in the heart of middle Georgia is the beautiful college town of Milledgeville, a welcome site for bike travelers. The terrain leading in and out of Milledgeville will prove to be the most challenging along the route, but it’s unavoidable as Milledgeville is quite hilly.
For many cyclists, the hills will be an exciting challenge. Once you arrive in Milledgeville, you will be thoroughly impressed with the town’s stately antebellum architecture, Civil War history, vibrant town center, nightlife, college culture and restaurants. Learn more about Milledgeville, GA.
Old Clinton and Gray
Riding 32 miles south from Milledgeville, you’ll discover the quiet towns of Gray and Old Clinton. During Sherman’s March to the Sea, the Right Wing of his army came down the surviving streets of historic Old Clinton, where you can still tour the one-room school house museum and a beautiful Methodist cemetery. Gray, established in 1908 as the county seat of Jones, has antique and collectible shops as well as local eating spots. Enjoy the peaceful-easy-feeling of these two countryside communities! Learn more about Old Clinton, Gray and the many activities available in Jones County here.
The southernmost point of the ATBR concludes at the Riverwalk Trail along the Ocmulgee River in Macon.
Learn more about Macon here.
Along the 170 miles of the ATBR, you will find beautiful gently rolling terrain, many flat stretches and some extremely hilly challenges. Please review the Ride with GPS elevation chart to determine which portions of the route that are best suited for your skill level.
We sincerely hope you will enjoy exploring the Antebellum Trail Bicycle Route. The friendly folks in these towns look forward to welcoming you into their communities.