Atlanta TrailsbyTrailful Outdoor Co
Atlanta Hiking Trails

Johnson Ferry Trail

Hike, walk or run the Johnson Ferry Trail, exploring the Chattahoochee River’s banks in metro Atlanta. This great beginner-friendly trail catches beautiful river views, visits a small waterfall and large cave outcropping, and explores a marshy, wildflower-filled wetland.

georgia hiking trails: 0-2 miles 1.8 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: easyeasy to
?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-
?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 in Atlanta, Georgia

PACK:our Osprey day pack and our hiking gear list

The Johnson Ferry Trail explores a particularly scenic stretch of the Chattahoochee River in metro Atlanta. The trail explores a beautiful riverine forest on the banks of the Chattahoochee, follows a tributary creek through a rocky hardwood forest, and winds through a marshy, wildflower-filled wetland. And a side trail follows the pebble-filled Mulberry Creek to a small waterfall and an impressively large rock outcrop overhanging the creek.

Johnson Ferry Trail: hike the banks of the Chattahoochee River to a small waterfall and large rock cave on a tributary creek

It’s not the most popular trail in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, or the longest, highest, or most strenuous trail. So is it worth a visit? For sure. This 1.8-mile loop runs nearly-level, making it a great, short, easy day hike on the Chattahoochee River or an equally great beginner-friendly trail run. And the trail’s abundant sights and diverse landscapes make it a great nature walk with kids, too.

Hike, walk or run the Johnson Ferry Trail, exploring the Chattahoochee River's banks in metro Atlanta. This great beginner-friendly trail catches beautiful river views, visits a small waterfall and large cave outcropping, and explores a marshy, wildflower-filled wetland. #hiking #running #trailrunning #atlanta #georgia #travel #outdoors #adventure

Johnson Ferry Trail: the hike

The adventure begins at the North Johnson Ferry Trailhead (view maps and driving directions), following a gravel road from the northeast corner of the parking area. After passing a marshy wetland on the left, the trail splits into three; this hike turns right at the split, following the narrow trail eastbound toward the Chattahoochee River.

The trail reaches the river’s banks at .2 mile, arcing northeast to follow the wide-flowing river upstream. Views of the river occasionally break through the dense forest lining the river’s banks. The hike rises gently above the river’s banks, and several trailside benches offer views of the broad, glassy river.

Johnson Ferry Trail: to beautiful views of the Chattahoochee River in metro Atlanta

The trail veers westbound at .35 mile and again at .55 mile, tracing the inlets of Arrowhead Creek and Owl Creek as they flow into the Chattahoochee River. At each of the inlets, the trail reaches a gravel road in a clearing; after crossing the channel, the hike veers right on a narrow singletrack trail to return to the river’s banks. (Sections of the trail have been rerouted here in a restoration effort, so follow signs for the latest trail course.)

The hike veers left at .75 mile, departing the river’s banks and following Mulberry Creek upstream to the northwest. Mulberry Creek flows and tumbles over a rocky bed, shaded by towering, leafy hardwood trees. It’s a great hike for a mid-hike swim and splash if you’re hiking with a four-legged hiking buddy; our dog loves to play in the shallow, pebble-lined creek.

Top Atlanta hikes: follow the Johnson Ferry Trail on the Chattahoochee River to the pebble-lined Mulberry Creek, a great swimming hole for dogs

The route follows a side trail at .9 mile, continuing to follow Mulberry Creek upstream toward a small waterfall. Opposite the waterfall, Mulberry Creek slices beneath a large rock overhang, creating a cave-like precipice above the creek. The stream follows a striated bed of rock as it arcs through the forest.

The hike backpacks to the main trail, turning right on the main loop and hiking southwest. The trail passes patches of marshy wetland, frequented by wildlife and spotted with wildflowers. The trail crosses a wooden bridge at 1.45 miles before veering southeast at 1.6 miles, crossing a wooden boardwalk and bridge over a boggy marsh. Frogs croak loudly in warm-weather months, and small fish swim in the sunlight-warmed shallows.

The hike reaches the trailhead spur trail at 1.65 miles, turning right to hike southbound to the trailhead. The hike reaches the Johnson Ferry Park trailhead at 1.8 miles, completing the adventure.

More adventures on the Chattahoochee River

Spanning over 40 miles, the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area offers some outstanding spots for hiking and trail running near Atlanta. The ultra-popular East Palisades Trail climbs several rocky bluffs to beautiful views over the river near Vinings, and visits a bamboo grove on the river’s banks. Hike the Sope Creek Trail to a tumbling creek, a glassy pond, and the ruins of a paper mill destroyed in the Civil War. For a great trail run, check out the 5k loop at Cochran Shoals, exploring the banks of the ‘Hooch, a sun-dappled forest, and scenic marshlands on the banks of the river. And check out our top ten favorite hikes on the Chattahoochee River for some of our all-time favorite trails on the river.

Leave No Trace: Atlanta Trails, Asheville Trails and Trailful are official Leave No Trace partners

Please Remember

Always leave no trace, pack out everything you pack in, and if you see trash, pick it up and pack it out.

Stay on the marked trail, tell someone where you're going, pack safety and wayfinding essentials, and don't rely on a mobile phone to find your way. Please always practice good trail etiquette. And before you go, always check the trailhead kiosk, official maps, and the park or ranger office for notices of changed routes, trail closures, safety information, and restrictions.

Johnson Ferry Trail Map, Directions & Details

This map shows our approximate route while exploring this trail, but does not replace an official trail map. Please refer to the official trail map for the most current and accurate route.

Love the trail?

This trail is maintained thanks to the hard work of countless volunteers and donations from supporters of the Chattahoochee National Park 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!

Driving Directions


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

GPS Coordinates

33.946450, -84.403833     //     N33 56.787 W84 24.230

Elevation Profile

Johnson Ferry Trail on the Chattahoochee River: Elevation Profile

Eric Champlin is a creative director and photographer who loves to explore southeast. He's the co-owner of Trailful Outdoor Co, a locally-owned hiking outfitter shop in Hiawassee in the Georgia mountains near the Appalachian Trail. He’s also the co-founder of Atlanta Trails and Asheville Trails, digital magazines that highlight the South’s best outdoor adventures. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.