The City of Atlanta Tract is owned by the city of Atlanta and co-managed by the Department of Natural Resources and the Georgia Forestry Commission. Originally the site of a proposed future Atlanta airport, as well as a former defense contractor aviation research facility, the tract is now a popular recreational area, with trails available for hiking as well as trails specifically designated for horseback and mountain bike travel. ATVs and ORVs are not allowed. Camping is available on the tract as well, and a parking/trail user fee is charged.
The Atlanta Tract can be accessed from various points, and hiking, biking, and horseback trails crisscross the entire 10,000+ acres. From the south, the easiest access point begins by heading west off Georgia 400 at Dawson Forest Road, just south of the North Georgia Premium Outlets. Continue on Dawson Forest Road until you enter the forest and the network of maintained gravel roads leading deep into the tract. Trails and old roadbeds are numerous and obvious parking spots are plentiful. Trails that run alongside the Etowah and Amicalola Rivers and Shoal Creek are popular routes, but scores of trails and miles of backcountry are available for the nominal $5 parking fee, paid on the "honor system" at collection tubes near designated parking spots. The northern entrance is best reached off Highway 53 at Sweetwater Church Road. Take a left and proceed south on Sweetwater Church Road, passing through an area of private homes before reaching the entrance to the tract. Trails and old roadbeds are also plentiful on this side of the WMA. A gradual increase in elevation from the south to the north end of this tract offers significant changes in surroundings as river flats give way to low ridges and rocky outcrops, and laurels, hemlocks, and other mountain species begin to replace lowland species such as red oak and short-leaf pines.