Chattahoochee River near Atlanta: our favorite hiking and running trails

Chattahoochee River trails: our top 10 favorite trails on the ‘Hooch

Hike, walk, run or bike our top ten favorite, most popular and scenic trails in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area north of Atlanta.

 

The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (NRA) is a 48-mile-long, 10,000-acre chain of parks that stretch south from Lake Lanier to Atlanta. The Chattahoochee River (often called the ‘Hooch’) flows wide, coursing through angular shoals and over multiple dams, and ranges in flow from glassy, serene stretches to frothy, turbulent whitewater.

Trails throughout the NRA are frequently mapped at each intersection, making the trails a fantastic hike for beginning hikers, weekend stroll for families with children, or workout for runners looking to escape the monotony of sidewalks and crosswalks on a trail with a beautiful backdrop. Our favorite trails in the Chattahoochee River NRA grab exceptional views of the wide-flowing river, climb nearby bluffs, explore historic mill ruins, visit a spillway waterfall, trail through a bamboo forest, and scout the remnants of a cross-river bridge largely heisted by thieves in the 1940s. They’re a fantastic, near-Atlanta outdoor escape, and one of our most-loved spots in the city.

Hike, walk, bike or run these top trails in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area near Atlanta

Chattahoochee River NRA Parking & Access

For free access to the parks, travel via public transportation, or bike, run, or walk to the parks if they’re nearby. Driving? Purchase a Chattahoochee River NRA daily pass for $3 per vehicle – a true bargain for a day’s worth of outdoor adventure. Or for an even better value, grab a unlimited-use $35 annual pass. Since the parks are some of our favorite, go-to destinations for outdoor adventure near Atlanta, we purchase an annual pass year after year.

The parks are units of the National Park Service, and are open from dawn to dusk. Leashed pets are welcome – in fact, several Chattahoochee trails scored a place in our top dog-friendly trails in Georgia.

Share your Adventure

Ready to explore the Chattahoochee? We’d love to see your adventure! Share your photos with us by tagging them #getoutsidegeorgia and #atlantatrails on Instagram and Twitter.

 
 

CHATTAHOOCHEE RIVER: OUR FAVORITE TRAILS

Catch views of the Chattahoochee River on the East Palisades Trail, and hike through a bamboo forest

Scenic River Views + A Bamboo Forest
East Palisades Trail
3.4 miles

Our favorite hike on the Chattahoochee River, the East Palisades Trail catches wide river views from towering bluffs, hikes through a bamboo forest, and visits whitewater rapids on one of the most scenic Chattahoochee stretches near Atlanta.
VIEW TRAIL INFO & MAPS

Hike Sope Creek, a Chattahoochee River tributary, to paper mill ruins, a rocky creek bed, and a glassy lake near Atlanta

Civil War Paper Mill Ruins
Sope Creek Trail
1.5 miles

Hike Sope Creek, a Chattahoochee River tributary, through beautiful forest to ruins of a paper mill destroyed in the Civil War, a tumbling creek and a glassy pond. It’s a great, kid-friendly outdoor escape near Atlanta.
VIEW TRAIL INFO & MAPS

Run or walk the nearly-flat 5k Cochran Shoals Trail on the Chattahoochee River

Atlanta’s Most Popular Running Trail
Cochran Shoals Trail
3.1 miles

Run, walk or bike the 5k Cochran Shoals Trail on the banks of the Hooch. It’s the most popular trail in the Chattahoochee River NRA, loved for its scenery, nearly-level elevation, and the community of runners and families that pack the trail daily.
VIEW TRAIL INFO & MAPS

Run or bike the West Palisades Trail, Rottenwood Creek Trail and Paces Mill Trail at the West Palisades park near Vinings

Three-Trail Trio
West Palisades Trail
3.6 miles

Run, bike or walk the West Palisades trail network at Paces Mill. Catch stunning views of the Chattahoochee River, and then trail Rottenwood Creek upstream to a small waterfall. Tucked between two major Atlanta highways, it’s an outdoor oasis framed by urban infrastructure.
VIEW TRAIL INFO & MAPS

The Vickery Creek Trail hikes to a covered bridge, mill ruins, and a spillway waterfall at the historic Roswell Mill

Historic Mill Waterfall
Vickery Creek Trail
4.7 miles

The Vickery Creek trail follows a Chattahoochee River tributary to a spillway waterfall, Civil War-era mill ruins and a covered bridge at the historic Roswell Mill.
VIEW TRAIL INFO & MAPS

The Powers Island Trail crosses a bridge to a historic mid-river island, and explores a rocky ridge on the shores of the Chattahoochee River

Explore an Island
Powers Island Trail
2.4 miles

The trail network at Powers Island explores the Chattahoochee’s opposite shore from Cochran Shoals, hiking to a historic island before climbing elevation through beautiful forest to a riverside ridge.
VIEW TRAIL INFO & MAPS

Hike Cochran Shoals to Sope Creek on this 8.5 mile trail spanning two of our fave Chattahoochee River parks

Mileage boost
Cochran Shoals to Sope Creek
8.5 miles

This hike spans two of our fave parks in the Chattahoochee River NRA. The hike explores Cochran Shoals, passes a small, secluded historic cemetery, and loops Sope Creek to the paper mill ruins. It’s a higher-mileage hike that’s packed with scenery and history.
VIEW TRAIL INFO & MAPS

The Jones Bridge Trail explores beautiful riverside forest and visits a historic bridge that was largely stolen in the 1940s

Heisted Historic Bridge
Jones Bridge Trail
4.6 miles

The Jones Bridge Trail explores wildlife-rich forest on the banks of the Chattahoochee River, and visits a historic bridge that was largely heisted by thieves in the 1940s. Hike early, foggy mornings for a surreal sunrise view of the Hooch.
VIEW TRAIL INFO & MAPS

The Gold Branch Trail loops the wildlife-filled banks of Bull Sluice Lake and the Chattahoochee River near Roswell

Wildlife-Filled Forest
Gold Branch Trail
3.5 miles

The Gold Branch Trail loops the wildlife-filled banks of Bull Sluice Lake and the Chattahoochee River near Roswell. The Chattahoochee’s flow, just upstream from Morgan Falls Dam, is wide, slow, and glassy.
VIEW TRAIL INFO & MAPS

The Gold Branch Trail loops the wildlife-filled banks of Bull Sluice Lake and the Chattahoochee River near Roswell

Caves & a Historic Cabin
Island Ford Trail
3 miles

The Island Ford trail explores the Chattahoochee River NRA headquarters, set in a 1930s log home on the river’s banks. The trail hikes to several large caves thought to be dwellings of early Native American inhabitants of the Chattahooochee River valley.
VIEW TRAIL INFO & MAPS

What to Pack Hiking? Our hiking gear lists feature our favorite, trail-tested gear.

What to pack?
Our favorite hiking gear

Ready to hit the trail, but wondering what to pack? Our gear lists feature our favorite, trail-tested hiking gear for day hikes on local trails and in the Georgia backcountry.
HIKING GEAR LIST: LOCAL HIKES

 
Eric Champlin is a writer and photographer who loves to hike, run, backpack, kayak and cycle the southeast. He’s the editor and founder of Atlanta Trails and Asheville Trails, online magazines that cover the South’s best outdoor adventures. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s scenic beauty.