Hike the East Palisades Trail 3.4 miles on the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta, climbing to several high overlooks, visiting mill ruins and a bamboo forest.
The East Palisades Trail hikes the Chattahoochee River’s Palisades section – one of the river’s most scenic in metro Atlanta. Frequented by kayakers for its class 1 and 2 rapids, the Palisades are marked by visually striking, sharply angular rock slabs that punctuate Chattahoochee’s flow, create pockets of whitewater and draw wildlife.
(There are two parks in the Palisades segment of the the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. The East Palisades Trail hikes the lesser-frequented eastern banks of the river, exploring high-elevation overlooks, mill ruins, and a bamboo forest on over 3 miles of hiking, walking and running trails. The other – West Palisades – trails the western banks of the Chattahoochee on over 3 miles of paved walking and running trails.).
The East Palisades Trail departs the Indian Trail trailhead (view driving directions) in a continual southwest descent toward the Chattahoochee River. The sound of the Chattahoochee’s rushing whitewater shoals becomes audible as the trail approaches the river, the trail beginning to follow Long Island Creek, a small tributary. The trail traces Long Island Creek’s sharp meanders and broad sandy banks, meeting the Chattahoochee River and turning right to follow the grand, wide-flowing river upstream.
The East Palisades Trail hikes north, crossing a wooden bridge over Charlie’s Trapping Creek before turning right at the first trail intersection. The hike changes terrain quickly, grabbing elevation and switching back in an ascent to a tall bluff overlooking the Chattahoochee. The trail courses though a series signed intersections, beginning a northward descent toward Cabin Creek, crossing Cabin Creek and turning west to follow the creek downstream to the Chattahoochee River. Angular shoals dominate the Chattahoochee’s riverbed here, and a small mill lies in ruins just south of where the trail meets the river.
The East Palisades Trail turns north, hiking across an old stone bridge spanning Cabin Creek and passing several large stone outcrops as it follows the Chattachoochee upstream. The trail crosses a small creek before hiking through a grove of 30-foot tall, towering bamboo stalks, meandering through the bamboo forest’s hollow stalks that knock musically in the wind.
The East Palisades Trail departs the bamboo grove, continuing north to scale a large bluff overlooking the Chattahoochee. The rock outcrop is steeply pitched and demands a careful climb – but rewards with a fantastic view of the Chattahoochee River and the opposite banks below.
The East Palisades Trail turns here, descending the bluff to retrace the hike to the trailhead, turning east at mill foundation and re-crossing Cabin Creek. After ascending the switchbacks south of Cabin Creek, the hike follows the signed trail intersections to Indian Trail Road, hiking the gravel road south to the East Palisades trailhead and parking area.
$3 day pass, or included with a Chattahoochee River NRA annual pass
33.884062, -84.436651 (N33 53.044 W84 26.199)