Johnson Ferry Trail at the Chattahoochee River
Hike, walk or run the Johnson Ferry Trail, looping 1.8 nearly-level miles on the Chattahoochee River's banks at Johnson Ferry Park near Marietta.
The Johnson Ferry Trail isn’t the most popular trail in the Atlanta-area Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area – nor the longest, highest, or most strenuous. But the nearly level-elevation trail does trek through beautiful riverine forest on the banks of the Chattahoochee River and a small tributary, and arcs through a marshy, wildlife and wildflower-filled wetland. And a side trail follows the pebble-filled Mulberry Creek to a small waterfall and an impressively large rock outcrop overhanging the creek.
Worth a visit? Definitely. The 1.8 mile Johnson Ferry Trail loop makes a great short, easy day hike on the Chattahoochee River, or a great beginner trail run near Atlanta.
Johnson Ferry Trail: the hike
The hike departs the Johnson Ferry Trail trailhead at the northeast corner of the Johnson Ferry North Park (view maps and driving directions), following a gravel road. After passing a marshy wetland on trail left, the trail splits into three; this hike turns right at the split, following the narrow trail eastbound toward the Chattahoochee River.
The Johnson Ferry Trail reaches the river’s banks at .2 mile, arcing northeast to follow the wide-flowing Chattahoochee River upstream. Decent views of the river are sporadic in the dense forest lining the river’s banks. The trail is elevated above the river’s banks, and several trailside benches offer views of the wide-flowing, glassy river.
The trail meanders to the west at .35 mile and again at .55 mile, tracing the inlets of Arrowhead Creek and Owl Creek as they flow into the Chattahoochee River. At each of the inlets, the Johnson Ferry Trail reaches a gravel road in a clearing; after crossing the inlet, the hike veers right on the a narrow singletrack trail to return to the river’s banks. (Sections of the trail have been rerouted here in a restoration effort, so follow signs for the latest trail course.)
The hike turns left at .75 mile, departing the Chattahoochee River shore and following Mulberry Creek upstream, trailing northwest. The hike follows a side trail at .9 mile, continuing to follow the pebble-bottomed Mulberry Creek upstream toward a small waterfall.
Opposite the waterfall, Mulberry Creek slices beneath a large rock overhang, creating a cave-like precipice above the creek. The creek follows a striated bed of rock as it arcs through the forest.
The hike retraces the side trail to the main Johnson Ferry Trail, turning right and trailing southwest. The trail courses past patches of marshy wetland, frequented by wildlife and spotted with wildflowers.
The Johnson Ferry Trail crosses a wooden bridge at 1.45 miles before veering southeast at 1.6 miles, crossing a wooden boardwalk and bridge over boggy wetland. The trail reaches the trailhead spur trail at 1.65 miles, turning right to hike southbound towards the Johnson Ferry Park parking area. The Johnson Ferry Trail reaches the trailhead at 1.8 miles, completing the hike.