Hike or trail run the scenic riverside West Palisades Trail on the Chattahoochee River from the park’s Akers Drive trailhead in metro Atlanta.

georgia hiking trails: 4-6 miles 4 miles
(round trip)
? Your mileage may vary! Accuracy of your GPS device, weather conditions, and stops along your route will affect your own recorded distance.
georgia hiking trails: moderaterelatively
moderate
?Our difficulty estimate, based on distance, terrain, elevation change, & ease of wayfinding. May vary daily due to weather, trail reroutes, downed trees, etc.
georgia hiking trails: dog-friendly Dog-
friendly
?Leashed dogs are allowed on this trail. We’ve loved hiking this route with our trail-loving Labrador Retrievers! Check out more of our favorite dog-friendly trails in Georgia for a great hike with your pup.

LOCATION:Chattahoochee River near Atlanta, Georgia

GEAR: Osprey Stratos 24 Backpack, our hiking gear list and Canon 6D Camera

WEAR: Our ultra-soft Atlanta Trails shirts and mountain logo hats

RATED: 4.2/5 (5 reviews)

Beautiful, wide river views in a blooming forest, with rocky bluffs and sandy shorelines on the banks of the Chattahoochee River: the West Palisades Trail is easily one of the most scenic in-town hikes in Atlanta. And this four-mile loop covers this park’s highlights on a series of unpaved trails, looping through a young, vine-covered hardwood forest, catching stunning views of the river, and visiting rocky bluff overlooks.

The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area offers some of our favorite running and hiking trails in metro Atlanta. The grand river flows from the rolling Appalachian Mountains to the north, with humble beginnings at a small spring at Chattahoochee Gap, just off the Appalachian Trail near Helen. Through the city, the Hooch flows broad, alternating in stretches turbulent, rocky whitewater and mellow, glassy flow. And this hike is one of the river’s most scenic, making for a fantastic hike or trail run through some beautiful terrain near Vinings.

West Palisades Trail: top hikes on the Chattahoochee River near Atlanta

Hike or trail run the scenic riverside West Palisades Trail on the Chattahoochee River from the park's Akers Drive trailhead in metro Atlanta. #hiking #trailrunning #running #northgeorgia #atlanta #georgia #travel #outdoors #adventure

West Palisades Trail: the hike

The adventure begins at a trailhead off Akers Drive (view maps and driving directions), diving into the forest after skirting around a metal gate. The trail splits at .1 mile, and this route forks to the left. The trail follows a southeast-bound descent toward the Chattahoochee River, crossing a gravel road.

Nearing the river’s banks, the route takes a left, hiking parallel to the river in a northeast direction, reaching a sandy beach on the river’s banks at .6 mile. Stairs offer river access to kayaks and canoes amid the whitewater-filled, jagged rocks at Devils Racecourse Shoals.

The hike doubles back and turns southbound, following the Chattahoochee River’s flow as it approaches a wide meander. Riverine wildlife, including heron, geese, and an occasional deer, are a common sight along the trail. The hike reaches a wooden boardwalk at 1.1 miles, crossing through a small wetland.

West Palisades Trail: hike the scenic banks of the Chattahoochee River in metro Atlanta

The hike continues its southbound trek. The trail narrows as it traces the shores of the rover, scrambling over rock outcrops. The hike reaches a rocky bluff offering views of the wide-flowing, glassy river at 1.25 miles.

Departing the rocky overlook, the hike turns northbound, retracing its steps toward the marsh. The trail hike 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 trail’s large southern loop.

The route continues to climb, passing several side trails before cresting at 2.1 miles. The trail splits here. This hike veers left to descend eastbound toward the Chattahoochee River, crossing several small streams. Dogwood trees pepper the forest with white blooms in the springtime, a beautiful contrast to the forest’s vibrant green and orange hues.

West Palisades Trail: hike through a flowering forest in springtime on the banks of the Chattahoochee River

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, a favorite swimming hole for our water-loving four-footed trail buddies. The trail meets the paved Paces Mill Park Trail at 2.8 miles, turning right to follow the pavement briefly, and darting back into the woods on a dirt trail at 2.9 miles. The hike climbs sharply northbound, cresting at 3.3 miles. The hike rolls elevation through the forest on its final stretch, retracing its outbound steps to the trailhead. The hike reaches the Akers Drive trailhead at 4 miles, completing the adventure.

Nearby adventures on the Chattahoochee River

The river’s stretch through the Vinings area is one of its most scenic in metro Atlanta, and the area’s hikes have always topped our favorite lists. Just across the river, catch stunning views from a towering bluff and explore a bamboo grove on the East Palisades Trail. Run a flat 5k loop at the ultra-scenic and ultra-popular Cochran Shoals just north of West Palisades. Explore a historic island and homestead remains on the Powers Island Trail. And check out our top ten favorite hikes on the Chattahoochee River for even more adventures.


West Palisades Trail Map, Directions & Details

Trails and routes may change – so please refer to official trail maps for the latest route.

Trail Rating

RATED: 4.2/5 (5 reviews)

Love the trail?

This trail is maintained thanks to the hard work of countless volunteers and donations from supporters of the Chattahoochee Parks Conservancy. Please support them by making a donation or joining a volunteer day. Let's work together to keep these fantastic trails maintained and open for use!

Updates

Did you have trouble accessing the trail, or notice some recent trail updates or storm damage? We'd love to know! Contact us here, and thanks for helping us keep this site updated!

Driving Directions



Parking

$5 day pass, or included with a Chattahoochee River NRA annual pass.


GPS Coordinates

33.890583, -84.448383     //     N33 53.435 W84 26.903

Elevation Profile

Chattahoochee River West Palisades Trail Map (at Akers Drive)
 
 
Leave No Trace: Atlanta Trails, Asheville Trails and Trailful are official Leave No Trace partners

Please Remember

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

Eric Champlin
Author

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, Asheville Trails, and Trailful, digital magazines that highlight the South’s best outdoor adventures and top Southern-worthy outdoor gear. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.