Powers Island Trail: best hikes on the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta

Powers Island Trail: Hiking the Chattahoochee River

Hike the Powers Island Trail on the banks of the Chattahoochee River, exploring Powers Island and the river's rocky, boulder-filled banks.

The Powers Island Trail is one of the lesser-traveled trails of Atlanta’s Chattahoochee National Recreation Area. Serene and sometimes deserted, this quiet hiking and running trail loops through a beautiful riverside forest. The trail explores an island, an inlet, and the banks of the shoaling Chattahoochee River on a 2.5-mile trail loop near Vinings.

It’s the “other” trail at the Chattahoochee’s angular, whitewater-filled Cochran Shoals. And yes, it’s more than just overflow parking for its extremely popular trail neighbor, the Cochran Shoals Trail. In contrast to the broad trails at Cochran Shoals, the width of the Powers Island Trail is comparatively tight – so it’s perfect for small hiking groups or single-file trail runs. And it’s arguably more scenic than the trail across the river – though it’s slightly more challenging, with a mid-trail climb to a riverside ridge.

Hiking the Powers Island Trail on the Chattahoochee River

Powers Island Trail: the hike

The adventure begins at the signed trailhead southern perimeter of the parking area (view maps and driving directions). The route catches the best Chattahoochee River views early in the hike, crossing a metal bridge and setting foot on Powers Island, and hiking west toward the wide, shoaling Chattahoochee River. The island’s name shares roots with the nearby Powers Ferry Road: James Powers operated a ferry from the island during the early 1800s, providing access across the wide, whitewater-filled Chattahoochee River.

Meeting the river’s banks at a kayak and canoe takeout, the trail swings northwest, following the river’s banks and hiking through a densely vegetated forest. The trail reaches the northern tip of the island, looping southeast to trace a shallow, smooth flowing inlet back toward the bridge.

Hiking the Powers Island Trail on the Chattahoochee River

The trail’s island loop completes at .7 mile, reaching and crossing the bridge. The hike crosses the parking area, departing from the park’s northeast trailhead. The trail runs an old gravel roadbed, hiking through a forest studded with large rock outcrops and old stacked-stone walls.

Hiking the Powers Island Trail on the Chattahoochee River

The route follows a number of trails on the river’s shore. Two parallel trails follow the contours of the Chattahoochee River, offering wide-open river views after passing the island at 1 mile. Hike side trails, departing on the trail’s left, for the best views.

Hiking the Powers Island Trail on the Chattahoochee River

The Powers Island Trail crosses through a bamboo thicket before reaching the park’s northern boundary at 1.3 miles, turning to retrace the hike southbound. The route veers left on the return hike to follow a loop, grabbing elevation on a nearby ridge. The loop hikes through an ivy and vine-filled deciduous forest, where wildflowers and mushrooms stretch to reach sunlight in warm summertime months. On the crest of the ridge, old stacked-stone retaining walls terrace the forest, now covered in thick tendrils of emerald ivy.

Hiking the Powers Island Trail on the Chattahoochee River

Departing the ridge at 2 miles, the hike levels and retraces the shores of the Chattahoochee River, crossing several bridges and catching views of Powers Island across the inlet. The hike reaches the parking area trailhead at 2.5 miles, finishing the adventure.

Powers Island Trail on the Chattahoochee River: 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

33.903817, -84.442167     //     N33 54.229 W84 26.530

Driving Directions


Elevation Profile

Powers Island Trail on the Chattahoochee River: Elevation Profile

Powers Island Trail on the Chattahoochee River 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.