Johnson Ferry Trail: hiking the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta, GA

Johnson Ferry Trail on 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 is it the longest, highest, or most strenuous. But the nearly level-elevation trail does trek through a 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.

Is it worth a visit? Definitely. This 1.8-mile loop makes a great short, easy day hike on the Chattahoochee River or an equally great beginner-friendly trail run.

Hiking the Johnson Ferry Trail on the Chattahoochee River near Marietta

Johnson Ferry Trail: the hike

The hike departs the North Johnson Ferry Trailhead (view maps and driving directions), following a gravel road from the northeast corner of the parking area. After passing a marshy wetland on the left, the trail splits into three; this hike turns right at the split, following the narrow trail eastbound toward the Chattahoochee River.

The 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 rises above the river’s banks, and several trailside benches offer views of the wide-flowing, glassy river.

Benches line the Johnson Ferry Trail on the banks of the Chattahoochee 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 channel, the hike veers right on 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 route follows a side trail at .9 mile, continuing to follow the pebble-bottomed Mulberry Creek upstream toward a small waterfall.

The Johnson Ferry Trail hikes to a small waterfall on Mulberry Creek

Opposite the waterfall, Mulberry Creek slices beneath a large rock overhang, creating a cave-like precipice above the creek. The stream follows a striated bed of rock as it arcs through the forest.

A large rock outcrop overhangs Mulberry Creek at Johnson Ferry Park

The hike retraces the side trail to the main trail, turning right and venturing southwest. The trail courses past patches of marshy wetland, frequented by wildlife and spotted with wildflowers.

The Johnson Ferry Trail hikes Johnson Ferry Park in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area near Atlanta

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 a 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 hike reaches the trailhead at 1.8 miles, finishing the adventure.

Johnson Ferry Trail: Directions & Details

Parking

$3 day pass, or included with a Chattahoochee River NRA annual pass

Please Remember

Always leave no trace, tell someone where you're going, pack safety and wayfinding essentials, don't rely on a cell phone signal to find your way, and follow these trail etiquette tips.

GPS Coordinates

33.946450, -84.403833     //     N33 56.787 W84 24.230

Driving Directions


Elevation Profile

Johnson Ferry Trail on the Chattahoochee River: Elevation Profile

Johnson Ferry Trail Map

Trail data and photos © Summit19 Studio LLC. This map is not a substitute for official trail maps or topographic maps.
 
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 incredible scenic beauty.