Let’s face it, there are not a lot of scenic drives near Atlanta. You generally have to spend over an hour in the car heading toward the mountains to find scenic views. And that’s what makes the South Fulton Scenic Byway such a hidden treasure.
Take mom for a scenic drive near Atlanta this Mother’s Day weekend!
This scenic drive is a 29-mile loop in South Fulton County, near the Coweta County line. It’s just 16 miles south of the airport, making it easily accessible for many intown and south-side residents who have a longer drive to the North Georgia mountains.
The South Fulton Scenic Byway has been called the loneliest road in metro Atlanta — although the loop is actually made up of four roads.
- Cochran Mill Road
- Hutchenson Ferry Road
- Campbellton Redwine Road
- Cedar Grove Road
We’ve included turn-by-turn directions for enjoying the Byway, just below.
This is a new series. Our idea is to find and share info about “secret” destinations close to home, so we can all enjoy them.
As we explore places 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 virtual driving tour of the Byway
Experience the vibe of “the loneliest road in metro Atlanta” through our video highlights. The South Fulton Scenic Byway is one of the best scenic drives near Atlanta.
You may also be interested in:
- Explore the new Peachtree Creek Greenway
- Explore the nature trail at Murphey Candler Park
- Admission & camping deals at GA state parks
- The best National Parks near Atlanta
What to expect along the Scenic Byway
We drove the South Fulton Scenic Byway drive slowly on an April afternoon, with the windows down and the sunroof open. It was so peaceful and isolated that it was hard to believe we were still in Fulton County. Whenever we had a car behind us, we’d pull onto the shoulder or a gravel path, to let it pass.
The Byway loop passes by open woodlands, fields and pastures, streams and ponds, and roadside wildflowers.
Along the way, you’ll see horses, huge granite outcrops, stone walls and split rail fences, barns and churches, and the occasional chipmunk scurrying across the road.
You’ll come across some unpaved gravel lanes with names like Steed Rd. and Brazell Rd. that you can turn down and explore if you dare.
You’ll even find a little history, in the form of a roadside cemetery. Many of the scattered headstones are now illegible, but others mark the final resting place of veterans from both World Wars.
If you go around the loop clockwise, as we did, you’ll see the inevitable McMansion toward the end of the route (on Cedar Grove Rd.), but in general, these roads are undeveloped.
Amazingly, you won’t see any commercial establishments along the way (with the exception of tiny Smith’s Grocery, which you can see from the Byway loop, in Rico, Georgia). You’ll also pass by a back gate to the Serenbe development and farm.
TAKE NOTE: You also won’t find any bathrooms — so plan your liquid intake accordingly! It’s possible you could find a secluded spot in the woods to take care of things, BUT much of the land is marked as private property with No Trespassing signs, and you should respect that.
When you look across a green field and spot a tiger resting in the dappled shade at the edge of the woods, your heart may stop for a second. Ours did.
Someone has quite the sense of humor, apparently! They positioned the life-size tiger for maximum impact when seen from a distance.
Where to access the South Fulton Scenic Byway
The South Fulton Scenic Byway does NOT show up as a destination on Google Maps.
However, if you’re lost without a GPS, you could always set Cochran Mill Park as your destination — that gets you to Cochran Mill Road, which is part of the Byway loop. But, we think you’ll prefer coming in on Rivertown Road, which has its own gorgeous scenic views. (See our directions, below.)
Also, the Georgia Dept of Transportation website gives general instructions that get you to the Byway from various directions.
We’ve written out turn-by-turn directions to help you navigate. These go around the loop clockwise, but you could reverse that if you’d rather navigate on your own.
If you’re coming from the north, as we were:
- Take I-85 South, past the airport
- Take EXIT 69 for South Fulton Parkway and the GA-14 Spur
- Keep LEFT at the fork and follow the signs for S. Fulton Pkwy & GA-14
- Travel about 9 miles on S. Fulton Pkway (you’ll be heading southwest)
- Turn RIGHT on Rivertown Road — this is where the scenery begins!
- Turn SHARP LEFT on Cochran Mill Rd (this puts you on the Byway loop, going clockwise)
- Turn RIGHT on Hutchesons Ferry Rd. to continue along the Byway
- Turn RIGHT on Campbellton Redwine Rd (GA-70) to continue along the Byway
- Continue on GA-70 as it becomes Cedar Grove Rd., and continue on the loop
- Turn RIGHT on Cochran Mill Rd — this takes you back to where you started the loop from Rivertown Rd.
SEE OUR MARKED-UP MAP, BELOW.
If you’re coming from the south:
- Take I-85 to Exit 56, and follow GDOT’s directions to the Byway — then choose a direction to circle the loop.
If you’re coming from I-20
- Use Exit 49 and follow GDOT’s directions to the Byway — then choose a direction to circle the loop.
The map below is courtesy of the Georgia Dept. of Transportation. We found it a little confusing, because it doesn’t show any of the crossroads or where the loop is in relation to the highway. So we marked it up a bit — you can see approximately where Rivertown Road hits the Byway, and we’ve added clockwise arrows to help you navigate.
Cochran Mill Park
The South Fulton Scenic Byway passes right through Cochran Mill Park, and you could stop to explore the trails if you need to stretch your legs. (Check the status before you go, as the park has been closed for several weeks.)
The park includes over 20 miles of mixed-use trails, multiple waterfalls, fields and streams, stunning vistas, granite outcrops, wildflowers, native azaleas and mountain laurel, and the ruins of three historic mills.
You’ll also find Cochran Mill Nature Center on the premises.
There is a parking fee of $5 for the park and nature center.
ENJOY THE VIEWS!
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