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Hike the Gold Branch Trail on the banks of the Chattahoochee River near Roswell, exploring a wildlife-filled forest, visiting Bull Sluice Lake, and catching exceptionally beautiful river views.

georgia hiking trails: 2-4 miles 3.2 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: 4/5 (2 reviews)

The Gold Branch Trail explores the beautiful terrain on the banks of the Chattahoochee River and the shore of Bull Sluice Lake. Young hardwoods shade a forest floor that fills with mosses, ferns, and native Georgia wildflowers in warm-weather months. The tranquil lake and river are home to cattails, marsh grasses, and aquatic plants. And wildlife fills the banks, waters and air surrounding these lesser-traveled, often quiet trails: heron, geese, ducks, fish, turtles, and deer are frequent sights along the trail.

Gold Branch Park is the last of the parks in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area north of the Morgan Falls Dam. In contrast to the whitewater-filled, rocky sections along the river at Cochran Shoals and East Palisades, the river flows broad and serene here, in an almost imperceptible flow.

Gold Branch Trail: hike to beautiful views of the Chattahoochee River views near Roswell, Georgia

The river and adjacent Bull Sluice Lake are often glassy, offering beautiful cross-bank reflective views. And the park’s quiet, remote forests make for a great escape from the surrounding suburban sprawl of metro Atlanta and Roswell.

Hike the Gold Branch Trail on the banks of the Chattahoochee River near Roswell, exploring a wildlife-filled forest, visiting Bull Sluice Lake, and catching exceptionally beautiful river views. #hiking #running #trailrunning #atlanta #georgia #travel #outdoors #adventure

Gold Branch Trail on the Chattahoochee River: the hike

The adventure begins at the park’s trailhead (view maps and driving directions). The hike descends from the trailhead, crossing a wooden bridge over a marshy wetland. The trail climbs from the wetland, reaching an intersection with the main loop trail.

Gold Branch Trail: hike to Bull Sluice Lake on the Chattahoochee River in metro Atlanta

This hike turns left at the intersection, venturing toward Bull Sluice Lake, exploring a young hardwood forest, and rolling elevation through the forest. The lake becomes visible through the grassy lakeshore vegetation, and its tranquil surface reflects the tree line on the opposite shore.

Bull Sluice Lake was created when the Chattahoochee River was dammed downstream at Morgan Falls, and the lake spans over 600 shallow acres. It’s frequented by waterfowl and is one of the most popular birdwatching and fishing areas in the north metro Atlanta area. The trail follows the lake’s banks, hiking northeast before rounding a curve and veering to the south. The hike reaches the lake’s outlet at the Chattahoochee River, rolling elevation on the banks of the wide-flowing river. Large rock outcrops punctuate the forest floor’s mostly-dirt landscape, crusted in green mosses and silvery lichen.

Gold Branch Trail: hike through a rocky forest at Bull Sluice Lake on the banks of the Chattahoochee River

The hike continues to follow the riverbank’s winding contours, opting for the riverside route at the next few trail intersections (GB8, GB9, and GB12 on the park’s official map). Reaching the southern end of Gold Branch Park at 2 miles, the trail ascends steeply, climbing far above the river, departing the river’s banks, and veering northbound. The route rolls elevation over several moderate inclines, continuing northbound through several signed trail intersections (GB11, GB10, and GB3). The outer loop trail meets the trailhead connector, turning left to return to the trailhead and parking area, and completing the adventure at 3.25 miles.

More Atlanta adventures on the Chattahoochee River

Many miles of trails explore the river’s beauty throughout metro Atlanta. Hike the river’s scenic banks to several rocky caves once used as shelter by Native Americans on the nearby Island Ford Trail. Hike to a tumbling spillway waterfall and visit the ruins of a mill destroyed in the Civil War on the Vickery Creek Trail at Roswell Mill. And explore more of the river’s beauty on our top ten favorite running, walking and hiking trails in the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area.


Gold Branch Trail on the Chattahoochee River Map, Directions & Details

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

Trail Rating

RATED: 4/5 (2 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

33.984898, -84.387020     //     N33 59.061 W84 23.115

Elevation Profile

Gold Branch Trail on the Chattahoochee River: Elevation Profile
 
 
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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.