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Come, Experience a Purely Hypothetical Jog on PATH400

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The first segment of PATH400 will be opening to the public in January. Ground broke earlier this year on the path, which will ultimately stretch 5.2 miles through the heart of Buckhead along Ga. Highway 400. While the Beltline is recognized as the golden child of Atlanta's more pedestrian-oriented transformation, PATH400 is no less important, and is coming to fruition much faster than its big brother. The trail, taking an amenity viewed for so long as singularly for automobiles, will connect seemingly disparate parts of Buckhead and ultimately tie the booming north end into the greater metro area via the Beltline's Peachtree Creek Spur. But let's not get ahead of ourselves; with pavement in place, and more than a month until we can go enjoy it, we sought to answer a burning question on many people's minds: So what would it be like, hypothetically speaking, to go for a run on PATH400 right now?

The portion of the trail slated to open in the first phase runs half a mile from Lenox Road north to Old Ivy Road. Imagine our hypothetical journey beginning at Lenox, where the road has been realigned to provide a commodious sidewalk alongside the new giant-ass Buckhead sign. While there are plans for a barrier between the path and the 10-lane dragway of Lenox, that has yet to materialize, leaving our roving renegade trending toward the left, pressed against the wall, warily eyeing the proximate crazy drivers as they speed down the road.

From Lenox, the hypothetical runner could then cruise up an embankment and look out over Ga. Highway 400 as he crosses onto the new trail. With no threatening signage or barriers to speak of, it would be an easy endeavor for this pretend explorer. From the embankment, the path leads down a small hill, running between trees and the highway, providing an unobstructed view over the sound barrier. The juxtaposition of nature and Ga. 400 would be really awesome, and the runner would be able to catch a view of the King and Queen buildings in Sandy Springs as he passes by an old home which sits very close to the trail. The path then dives down a massive hill with large drainage ravines on both sides. The theoretical trail-blazer would have to navigate between orange construction barrels which currently stand in as temporary guard rails.

At the end of the big trail, the errant urban explorer would follow the trail as it takes a sharp right and encounter a front-end loader meant to dissuade people from using the path. Undeterred, he might continue on the concrete strip as it becomes a sidewalk passing underneath Ga. 400, which now towers over our imagined intrepid adventurer. In only half a mile he's gone from high above the road to underneath it; the massive beams above offer an interesting perspective for the pedestrian. Unfortunately, with no sidewalks along Old Ivy Road and phase two still very much under construction on the north side of Old Ivy, the weary runner would be forced to turn around, duck under the boom of the front-end loader, and run up the hellish hill he had just run down, which would totally make his calves ache later. Probably.

While the hill is severe, the reward at the top — a panoramic view of the Buckhead skyline — would be hugely satisfying. If that person were doing it at night (which would be ill-advised as there are no lights on the trail), the view would be spectacular! The runner might even think the neighbors along the trail are very lucky to be so close and that the home being built alongside the trail at the top of the hill will tout its adjacency as a selling point.

However, not all are enamored with this new neighborhood amenity, which has yet to be tested. NIMBYs concerned about people using the trail at night advocated for no lighting and few security cameras — because that is not a recipe for total disaster — in order to discourage night usage. As we all know: If there are no lights, not only law abiding citizens, but also those bent on nefarious activities, will avoid the trail. Just like our hypothetical runner.

Of course, all of this is a flight of fancy (or a run of fancy?), as the trail is not open yet and using it would be reckless, dangerous and probably trespassing. But come January, PATH400 seems like it will be a major amenity for the more than 5,000 residents within a five-minute walk of the trail, and the greater Buckhead community.

· Grand Opening Events for Phase I of PATH400 Trail Planned for Early January [Buckhead Patch]
· With Pavement, PATH400 is Starting to Exist Like a Boss [Curbed Atlanta]
· Blasting Buckhead [Curbed Atlanta]
· Goats, Roadwork & Cranky Homeowners: A PATH400 Update [Curbed Atlanta]