The Hills to VaHi

August 17th, 2011 | In Run Reviews

Are you feeling deprived of hills (especially Cardiac Hill) since the AJC Peachtree Road Race? Luckily, running in Atlanta can almost always guarantee hill training every time! We’re now in the later summer season and the heat and humidity has been quite something, but  this is my first time training for a fall marathon, so I had no choice but to train in heat. I had no idea how much I would miss training for a spring marathon.

There are so many hills  in Atlanta (including a lot that are probably more hillier than the ones I’ll be covering in this post). But today, I’m going to cover  my “go-to hills”  when I am running and want to kick it up a notch.

Most of my running starts near Piedmont Park. From there, I will almost always run down Monroe Drive. This is where I get to “choose my own” adventure.  As I run north on Monroe Drive towards Piedmont Road, there are three roads I often choose from to bring me to North Highland Avenue.

It just so happens that all three roads have their own level of difficulty, roughly based on length and grade.

This is the road I end up running up the most. It isn’t that steep of a hill, but it is the longest. It does give some rest before throwing a few short hills as you get closer to N. Highland.

This is steeper than Cumberland, but it isn’t as long. In addition, the road is cut short so you’ll have to jump onto N. Morningside to make your way to N. Highland. I’d consider it sort of the middle child of the three hills. As a result, this one gets underutilized during my runs.

And finally, the steepest of the three! The photo doesn’t really depict its steepness too well, but it is significantly steeper than Cumberland. It isn’t long, but it really is quite a bear. I’m not sure how popular this road is, but it seems popular enough to warrant its own finish line at the top of the hill.

As a reward for getting up any of these hills, you are emptied out onto N. Highland Avenue, which leads you towards my current favorite neighborhood of Atlanta, Virginia Highlands (VaHi). Aside from the many restaurants and bars, it connects you to the Georgia PATH off of Freedom Parkway which leads to even more running possibilities!

One of the places I tend to find myself visiting a lot is the Yeah! Burger located at the corner of N. Highland and Virginia. I love burgers and this place is definitely no exception (I’ve also had burgers at George’s and Highland Tap which are both nearby the same intersection)! I’d like to think that my obsession over burgers began after my first 5K back in 2009. It was at Georgia Tech and I remember the first song I heard crossing the finish line was a song by Jimmy Buffett called “Cheeseburger in Paradise”. Lucky for me there has been a plethora of burger places opening around Atlanta lately!

So after running down N. Highland for a bit, you may want to return back towards Piedmont Park. I’d suggest taking Virginia Ave. as it makes for a great downhill towards Monroe. And for the even more ambitious, you can tack on one more hill. Forget 10th Street, seek out 9th Street which is accessible from Charles Allen Dr.! It is the steepest and shortest of the hills. It’s a pretty consistent hill too if you’re interested in taking it on in a hill repeat workout.

Here is a Garmin route I’ve run that includes Hillpine and 8th Street (a not-as-steep alternative to 9th Street). Because all the other alternate roads near Hillpine are so close together, the route can easily be modified to your liking.

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