Chad Radford has written about Atlanta music for more than 20 years. He is an obsessive record collector, and Rough Draft’s digital editor.

The only things he loves as much as music are exploring Southwest Atlanta on his bike, getting lost in the woods while scoping out wildlife, and foraging for mushrooms in those same woods.

When he’s not behind his keyboard on deadline, he spends his days exploring Atlanta’s hidden forests, and there are a lot of them.

Here are Chad’s Top 5 Intown Nature Walks:

1. Constitution Lakes: The boardwalk at Constitution Lakes (pictured above right) overlooks a scenic wetlands, home to herons, kingfishers, deer, otters, and a variety of snakes and lizards. The trash-turned-folk-art on the Doll’s Head Trail is a site to behold.

2. Deepdene Park: Smack dab in the middle of the city there’s a hidden forest—not a park—an actual forest on Ponce that’s teeming with wildlife. If you aren’t looking for it, you’d never know it was there.

3. Blue Heron Nature Preserve: Home to the Amphibian Foundation and Audubon Society offices and labs as well as 30 acres of wooded trails along Nancy Creek.

4. Heritage Park: Hike along Nickajack creek through the woods and raised boardwalk to the Concord Woolen Mill. Beyond that the Trestle covered bridge is worth a gander.

5. Cascade Springs Nature Preserve Trail: This 120-acre woodland in Southwest Atlanta features a boulder field, waterfall, and plenty of wildlife and native plant species. Check out the remains of the old spring house where the water was once believed to hold magical healing properties.

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