City Escape: Atlanta, Georgia

Text: James T. Parks • Photography: James T. Parks

Escape Atlanta’s sprawling urban landscape by taking a series of secondary roads to the unique, picturesque Little River Canyon National Preserve in Alabama, and then return via rural roads in the foothills of the southern Appalachian Mountains. Charming, historic settlements along the way include the Georgia towns of Dallas, Cave Spring, and Rome. The lunch stop may not look like much on the outside, but the tasty offerings inside are well worth your time and money.

Length

Approximately 210 miles

Meetup Spot

Marietta Diner, 306 Cobb Pkwy S, Marietta, GA

Lunch Stop 

At Rim of the Canyon Cafe, the cheeseburgers, barbecue, and daily plate lunch specials are favorites. Find it at 477 SR 35, Fort Payne, AL, (256) 845-6402.

Scenery (4 out of 5)

The scenery is spectacular, particularly from overlooks into Little River Canyon and in the Appalachian foothills.

Difficulty (3 out of 5)

This route is not difficult, except for the road around Little River Canyon, which is exceptionally curvy with mostly blind corners due to heavy forestation. 

Road conditions (3 out of 5)

Overall, the roads are well maintained and in good condition.

Points of Interest

  1. Cave Spring, GA
    The town’s name is derived from a limestone cave and spring in the center of town, which was a significant gathering place for indigenous peoples. In the early 19th century the town was on the path of the Trail of Tears during the Cherokees’ forced-march to Indian Territory. The town’s residential historic district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 
  2. Little River Canyon National Preserve
    Alabama SR 176 snakes its way through dense forests and along the high cliffs of Little River Canyon National Preserve. Overlooks provide panoramic vistas into the 600-foot-deep canyon’s narrow, lush environs, which include an unusually diverse array of fauna and flora.
  3. Rome, Ga
    Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Rome, GA, similar to its namesake city in Italy, is spread across seven hills. Although the area was originally inhabited by Native Americans, Rome was founded by European Americans in 1834. Riding through town today, visitors are easily captivated by the historical ambiance, inviting eateries, and friendly people.