Cochran Shoals Trail: Chattahoochee River Running & Walking
Hike, walk, run, or bike over 4 miles of wide, level trails at Cochran Shoals park along the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta.
Cochran Shoals, one of the most popular and beautiful of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area trails, is located just north of Atlanta’s I-285 perimeter highway. This riverside park offers over 4 miles of fantastic, wide graveled trails popular with runners, walkers and mountain bikers along a wide, shoal and whitewater-filled stretch of the Chattahoochee River.
The Cochran Shoals Trail is one of two trails along the Cochran Shoals section of the Chattahoochee River. Also check out the Powers Island Trail on the river’s opposite shore, just across the Interstate North Parkway bridge – a great 2.5 mile hike or trail run on a Chattahoochee island.
Cochran Shoals’ popularity with runners and walkers draws from its wildlife-rich marshland habitats, excellent Chattahoochee River views and its nearly level elevation on its popular 5k running trail.
Cochran Shoals Trail: the run
The Cochran Shoals Trail departs the Interstate North Parkway trailhead (view maps and driving directions), winding 1.5 miles north along the banks of the Chattahoochee River. Views of the wide, flowing river, punctuated by angular rock shoals, are nearly continuous throughout this initial stretch of the trail. The trail travels varied terrain – wetlands, river banks, grasslands and forest as trails north toward the Columns Drive trailhead and parking area. A boardwalk departs trail left at .6 mile, offering exploration of a marshy wetland popular for viewing wildlife.
The trail reaches the Columns Drive parking area at 1.6 miles, looping southwest and climbing very moderate and gradual elevation. A side trail departs trail right at 1.75 miles, offering a connection to the nearby Sope Creek hiking trails and Civil War-era paper mill ruins. The trail passes wide, cleared grassland and marsh before crossing a creek via bridge at 2 miles before turning to loop southeast in a return to the Interstate North Parkway trailhead.
Expect traffic at Cochran Shoals, especially on weekends and evenings the warmer months – despite a large parking areas, spaces at Cochran Shoals are limited during peak times.