West Palisades Trails: Chattahoochee River at Akers Drive
Hike or trail run the scenic riverside West Palisades Trail on the Chattahoochee River near Atlanta from the park's Akers Drive trailhead.
The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area offers outstanding running, hiking and walking trails on the banks of the Chattahoochee near Atlanta. The grand, wide Chattahoochee River flows from Georgia’s rolling Appalachian Mountains, starting humbly from a small spring north of Helen, Georgia. The West Palisades Trail, accessed from Akers Drive near Vinings, offers scenic hiking and trail running adventure on a wildlife and whitewater-filled stretch of the Chattahoochee.
This moderate, 4-mile loop trail explores three sets of shoals at West Palisades, looping through young, vine-covered deciduous forest and rolling elevation from the river’s banks up to rocky bluff overlooks.
West Palisades Trail at Akers Drive: the hike
The West Palisades Trail departs the Akers Drive trailhead (view maps and driving directions), diving into the forest after skirting around a metal gate. The trail splits at .1 mile, the hike forking left to continue a southeast-bound descent toward the Chattahoochee River and crossing a forest road.
Nearing the river’s banks, the loop trail takes a left, hiking parallel to the river in a northeast direction before reaching a sandy beach on the Chattahoochee’s banks at .6 mile. Stairs offer river access to kayaks and canoes here amid the whitewater-filled, jagged rocks at Devils Racecourse Shoals.
The trail turns southbound, following the Chattahoochee River’s flow as it approaches a wide meander. Riverine wildlife, including heron, geese and an occasional deer, are often sighted here from the trail. The trail reaches a wooden boardwalk at 1.1 miles, crossing a small wetland.
The trail continues a southbound trek, narrowing as it traces the shores of the Chattahoochee and scrambling over rock outcrops. The West Palisades Trail reaches a rocky bluff offering views of the wide-flowing river and surrounding forest at 1.25 miles.
Departing the rocky overlook, the hike turns northbound, retracing its steps toward the marsh. The trail turns left on the paved forest road, climbing elevation as it travels due west. The hike turns left at 1.6 miles, trekking southbound, continuing to climb and beginning the large southern loop of the West Palisades Trail.
The route continues to climb, passing several side trails before cresting at 2.1 miles. The trail splits here – this hike veering left to descend elevation eastbound toward the Chattahoochee River, crossing several small streams. Dogwood trees pepper the forest, their white blooms a beautiful contrast to the forest’s vibrant green spring growth in March to mid-April.
The hike turns right at a trail intersection near the river’s shore at 2.4 miles, scrambling over a large rock outcrop at Long Island Shoals before leveling to trace the Chattahoochee’s banks. The trail meets pavement at 2.8 miles, turning right to follow the pavement briefly before darting back into the woods on a dirt trail at 2.9 miles. The hike rises elevation sharply, gaining nearly 250 feet of elevation as it treks northbound before cresting at 3.3 miles. The trail rolls elevation over its final stretch, retracing its outbound steps to reach the Akers Drive trailhead at 4 miles.
West Palisades Trails: Chattahoochee River at Akers Drive Map, Directions & Details
$3 day pass, or included with a Chattahoochee River NRA annual pass.
33.890583, -84.448383 // N33 53.435 W84 26.903