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The great(est) outdoors

10 invigorating ways to get out and about



With a million outdoor options this summer (see the listings), we offer the 10 outdoor options for a summer in and around Atlanta.

HIKING -- With 48 miles of parkland, the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area has a trail for hikers at any level. The 3-mile Cochran Fitness Trail is popular and easy enough for beginners; more experienced hikers should try the East and West Palisades, Vickery Creek and Island Ford trails. 1978 Island Ford Parkway. 678-538-1200.

CAMPING -- If your idea of a fun weekend involves trading the comfy securities of home for a tent and sleeping bag, get in the car and head to Red Top Mountain. Red Top is located on the banks of Lake Allatoona, and isn't that far a drive from metro Atlanta. 31 Red Top Mountain Road. Cartersville. 770-975-4226.

CYCLING -- When they're not busy coaching the pros or triathlon wannabes how to be the next Lance Armstrong, the folks at Frazier Cycling are committed to promoting cycling as a sport that people of all ages and strength levels can enjoy. The Frazier Cycling Partners program organizes daily club rides for all skill levels, and there are children's programs as well. www.fraziercycling.com.

FISHING -- Sweetwater Creek State Park is only a short 13 miles west from downtown Atlanta, but the park is a haven for fishermen and outdoorsmen alike. There are fishing boats available to rent, along with a bait shop and fishing docks. Open daily 7 a.m.-10 p.m. 1760 Mt. Vernon Road, Lithia Springs. 770-732-5871. gastateparks.org/info/sweetwater.

RUNNING -- The Peachtree Road Race, run every year on July 4, is an Atlanta tradition. About 55,000 runners compete in what has come to be known as the world's largest 10K race, which runs from Lenox Square mall to Piedmont Park. Almost all restaurants and bars located along the course hold events during the morning, so you can cheer for the runners while relaxing. July 4, 7:30 a.m. www.atlantatrackclub.org/at02000.htm.

SWIMMING -- Most community pools, such as the Ebster Pool in Decatur, allow area residents to cool off for a low-cost daily or seasonal fee. If you don't want to have to have a membership card just to cool off, Centennial Olympic Park has the Fountain of Rings -- a supercool fountain that shoots out water in the shape of the Olympic rings that locals and tourists alike get soaked in. Ebster Pool, 404 W. Trinity Place. 404-377-7231. www.decaturga.com; Centennial Olympic Park, 265 Park Ave. West. 404-223-4412. www.centennialpark.com.

SAILING -- The Lake Lanier Islands are home to more than 500 miles of beach that ring a 38,000-acre lake. The beach and water parks are the big draws, but visitors can rent sailboats and speedboats for water skiing, and even a luxury yacht for the high rollers.$16.99-$26.99. 6950 Holiday Road, Buford. May-September, Fri. and Sun., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-7 p.m. 770-932-7200.

CANOEING -- The Georgia Canoe Association holds trips for beginner, intermediate and advanced canoe artists throughout the summer, including 10- to 12-mile paddles along the Chattahoochee. The trips lead up to the last event of the summer: Paddle Mania, a 24-hour, 90-mile trip Aug. 11. www.georgiacanoe.org and www.ucriverkeeper.org/community4.htm.

PARKS -- Lullwater Conservation Park, located near Emory, is a hidden gem for park-goers looking to curl up with a book in the sun without getting stomped on by football-throwing kids. The park also includes trails for walking, running and rollerblading. 1463 Clifton Road. 404-727-6156.

SPORTS -- Georgia USSSA Softball leagues have a team for anyone itching to demonstrate their best Jeff Francoeur impression. There are men's, women's, coed, and youth leagues with sections that meet inside and outside the Perimeter. An Adult Softball League open to all skill levels practices on Saturdays and plays games on Tuesdays in Lucky Shoals Park. Adult Softball League, Lucky Shoals Park, 4651 Britt Road, Norcross. 770-963-6578. www.georgiausssa.com.

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