Hike the Riverside and Bend Trails at Chattahoochee Bend State Park, following the river’s scenic banks to a lookout tower and stunning views.
LOCATION:Chattahoochee Bend State Park near Peachtree City, Georgia
Chattahoochee Bend State Park is nestled in a broad meander of the Chattahoochee River west of Newnan, Georgia, and it’s one of the newest of the Georgia State Parks. This hike on the Chattahoochee Bend River Trail combines the Chattahoochee Bend Riverside Trail and Bend Trail for a 10-mile hike along the river’s shores. The adventure visits a wooden observation tower with beautiful river views, climbs over two boulder-strewn peaks, and passes through several grassy clearings with great wildlife-spotting opportunities.
This hike also offers camping, for an overnight backpacking adventure. Platform campsites are located along the river’s banks at this hike’s 5.4-mile mark; they’re accessible only via kayak, canoe, or this hike on Riverside-Bend Trail. If you’re interested in staying the night, campsite reservations are required: visit the Chattahoochee Bend State Park HQ or the Georgia State Parks website for details.
Chattahoochee Bend State Park River Trail: the hike
The adventure begins at the day-use trailhead on the banks of the Chattahoochee River (view maps and driving directions), following the white-blazed trail along the wide-flowing river toward the park’s observation tower. Old-growth, broad-trunked trees dot the trail, towering over the surrounding younger deciduous forest and patches of native bamboo grasses.
Vines climb skyward along the trail, stretching to reach sunlight in the forest canopy. The trail crosses a bridge spanning a Chattahoochee tributary, Turkey Creek, before reaching a recently-constructed wood observation tower at 1 mile.
The hike departs the tower, following white trail blazes, catching views of the Chattahoochee River sporadically on the trail’s left side. The Riverside Trail turns eastward, diving deeper into Chattahoochee Bend’s forest and crossing a bridge. The hike loops westward to return to the river banks, circling a massive-trunked old-growth maple tree and crossing the river’s sandy, compacted floodplain.
The hike passes a rocky ridge dotted with fern and lichen-covered rock outcrops that rise from the surrounding river flats. The trail darts away from the river to cross a small tributary creek before looping westbound back to the Chattahoochee’s banks.
Views stretch up and downstream from this raised vantage point on the riverine shore, and a bench offers a mid-hike refueling spot with a view. The hike departs the river, following the white-blazed Bend Trail and rising elevation to climb a small ridge. Fern and grass line the trail sides, carpeting the forest floor in shades of vibrant green.
Armored armadillos are a common sight here on the trail, often oblivious to the presence of hikers presence as they dig and forage for grubs.
The trail reaches the ridge summit at 2.6 miles, turning to roll elevation in a wide meander past two large, slab rock outcrops. The trail approaches the Chattahoochee River once again. A diamond-blazed side trail offers excellent river views, some of the best at Chattahoochee Bend, at 3 miles.
The Bend Trail departs the river to roll over several small knobs, continually changing elevation. The hike dives through a fragrant, young evergreen forest at 3.8 miles before reaching a grassy clearing at 4 miles. The clearing’s golden grasses contrast brilliantly with the blue sky overhead and the green pine sprinkled throughout the open expanse.
The Bend Trail flanks the clearing’s edge, crossing two wooden bridges. The trail tramples the long needles carpeting a pine grove’s floor before crossing a narrow, grassy clearing. The forest is rigidly linear and regularly spaced, comprised entirely of pine. The trail playfully weaves through the linearly-spaced pine forest, darting between rows among the trees.
Exiting the pine grove, the trail curves northward, meeting a gravel road and reaching its end at 5 miles. Have a platform campsite reservation? Depart the trail and turn left, following the gravel road to the remote, numbered campsites along the Chattahoochee River’s broad bend.
Out for a day hike? Turn here to retrace your hike to the trailhead, retracing the white-blazed Bend and Riverside trails through Chattahoochee Bend State Park’s riverine forest, completing the hike at 10 miles.
Trails and routes may change – so please refer to official trail maps for the latest route.
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$5, or included with a Friends of Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites membership.
33.429550, -85.012183 // N33 25.773 W85 00.731