Murphey Candler Park is a popular neighborhood green space — and a hidden treasure for those who don’t know about it yet.
This is a 135-acre green space that offers multiple ways to enjoy being outdoors. You’ll find trails, scenic views, a lake, playgrounds, picnic facilities, and plenty of open space away from crowds. There’s also a sports complex, pool, and tennis courts.
The nature trail and boardwalk over marshland are the highlight of the park. Why not plan a walk in the woods today?
This is a new series. Our idea is to find and share info about “secret” pockets of nature close to home, so we can all enjoy them more often.
As we explore parks and trails throughout metro Atlanta, we’ll share our experiences with you. We encourage you to follow in our footsteps and check out a place you’ve never been.
With so many cancellations, we’ve had to shift our focus away from free and cheap events — so our goal for 2020 is to help you connect to your city in new ways. Get out and explore!
Take a video tour of the park and trail
6 things we love about Murphey Candler Park
Bonus: the park is especially family-friendly, and leashed dogs are welcome!
1. The woodland trail. When you’re tired of the BeltLine’s pavement, MC Park offers you a true walk (or run) in the woods. Find more details about the trail below!
2. The lake. Because who doesn’t love to be near water? In landlocked Atlanta, it seems like a special treat. You can even fish for fun, and throw back your catch.
3. The wildlife. There are always ducks and Canada geese at the southern end of the lake. If you come often, you can watch families of ducklings and goslings grow to maturity right before your eyes. (Please don’t feed them!) On a warm day, you’ll see turtles sunning themselves. You may even catch a glimpse of deer or beavers.
4. Accessibility. The park is crazy-easy to get to, and you don’t have to plan a day trip around it. Pop in on your way home from Perimeter Mall, over a lunch hour, or anytime you want a quick nature fix on-the-go. If you’re nearby and have ten minutes, it’s a no-brainer.
5. A touch of public art. The storm water access points are painted like animals (see photos below)! While it’s not the splashy full-wall murals you see in town, it’s fun and whimsical.
6. Amazing playground. The A-frame of the swing sets look like rough-hewn timber, and the slide passes over a wall of boulders.
Getting there & getting around
Murphey Candler Park is located inside the Perimeter, in Brookhaven, near the Dunwoody city line.
It’s 16 miles from downtown Atlanta, and just two miles from Perimeter Mall.
This park is easy to get to from I-85, I-285, and GA-400. And it’s worth the trip — even if you’re coming from another part of town.
If you’re navigating via GPS, use this address:
1551 W Nancy Creek Dr NE
Atlanta, GA 30319
MC Park is divided in half by West Nancy Creek Drive. You may have driven by and seen the large sports complex and ball fields on one side of the street, and the southern end of the lake on the other side. (Even so, you may not know about the forest and woodland nature trail!)
On the lake side of the street, there’s also a playground, swimming pool (closed for now), picnic pavilions, and the woodland trail. (More info on the trail below!)
There is plenty of free parking near the ball fields, and a smaller parking lot at the southeastern corner of the lake.
Getting there on MARTA is not especially convenient, and requires a 30-minute, 1.4 mile walk from Dunwoody Station. It would be worth it to take a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft from the station to the park.
Park hours & amenities
Murphey Candler park is open from sunrise to sunset, year-round.
(This applies to the park itself, not the sports complex and pool.)
- Bathrooms (near the baseball fields)
- Tennis courts
- Swimming pool
- Picnic pavilions
- Benches and swings
- Recreational, throw-it-back fishing at the lake
- Walking/running trail
- Little Free Library (southwest corner of the lake)
For more info, visit the Murphey Candler Park Conservancy website. There’s a great photo gallery that includes pics of fall foliage and snowfall at the park, as well as wildlife photo contest entries.
The nature trail at Murphey Candler Park
The nature trail is really the highlight of the park.
This simple loop of just under 2 miles is a walk that feels like a hike — not because it’s rugged and difficult, but because you’re out in the woods and not on pavement. It’s easy enough to do with children, and safe enough to do solo.
We like to start at the southeast corner of the lake (where there’s a small parking lot) and walk the loop counter-clockwise. You can see our route on the screenshot below, starting at the green dot and ending back there at the red dot.
If you want to go around the loop the other way, there’s a good recap of the hike on the Atlanta Trails blog.
Things to know before you go:
♦ The terrain includes pavement, dirt/gravel paths, wooden boardwalks, and natural woodland paths with exposed roots and other potential tripping hazards. You have to pay attention.
♦ Some parts of the path can be muddy — so choose your footwear accordingly.
♦ Once the trail enters the woodland area, it really isn’t suitable for strollers. If you bring one, plan to stick to the paved and gravel areas of the trail.
♦ While we weren’t bothered by mosquitoes, bug repellent is always a good idea in the woods.
Walking the woodland trail:
We started at the southeast corner of the lake, by the Murphey Candler Park sign. There’s a small lookout point that juts out into the lake here, where you can sit on a bench and watch ripples on the water or darting dragonflies.
As you start walking, you’re on pavement, heading north. There’s a grassy/sandy area along the lake shore where you might notice someone fishing. You’re likely to see ducks and geese hanging out here, as well as posted signs asking you not to feed them.
A trestle style bridge takes you over a marshy area. We looked over the side and saw a lone duckling playing in the puddles here.
As you continue up the lake, the pavement runs out and you’re now on packed dirt and gravel. To your left, you’ll see the first of the painted sewer access points.
Soon you’ll lose sight of the lake and enter the woodland, walking under the shade of tall trees. (If you have a stroller with you, this is probably where you want to turn around and go back.) You’ll see forest to your right and marshland to your left. You’ll also catch a glimpse of houses through the trees, and the little trails that link the neighborhood to the park.
A series of wooden boardwalks and bridges take you over the marshy areas, and you’re probably not hearing anything but the songbirds at this point.
You may feel like exploring little trail spurs that lead into the forest or down to the water’s edge. In the spring, you’ll see wildflowers like trillium and lady’s slipper. The park is also a good spot to enjoy fall foliage without driving to the mountains.
When you’re at the top of the loop, it gets a little tricky. The main trail could use a few more markers here.
You’ll take a wooden bridge across Nancy Creek and then look for where the trail doubles back on the other side of the creek. Look to your left and up — this side of the trail is higher, and you’ll have to scramble up a hillside to reach it. It may be muddy, but usually there is straw thrown down to help keep you from slipping.
As you come around the loop and start heading south again, you’ll find that the trail is a bit more rugged on this side of the lake. It’s pretty uneven, with lots of roots and exposed rocks — this is why we told you to wear appropriate footwear!
Now, Nancy Creek is to your left, and you’ll see glimpses of neighborhood houses to your right.
As the northern shore of the lake comes into view again, the trail becomes wider and flatter again. You’re no longer under the forest canopy, and you’re back on gravel and packed dirt.
As you continue along the western side of the lake, you’ll see picnic pavilions and a fun playground to your left.
Before long, you can see the road — West Nancy Creek Drive — ahead of you. Take a left onto the wooden boardwalk, cross the trestle bridge, and enjoy the lake views. You’re back where you started!
Bonus: There’s a Little Free Library located at the southwest corner of the lake, just before you reach Nancy Creek Drive. Feel free to browse and take a book home if you see something you like!
You may also be interested in:
- Scenic Drives: Explore the South Fulton Scenic Byway
- The first mile of the new Peachtree Creek Greenway opens
- The best state parks close to Atlanta
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