Paces Mill Park: running the Chattahoochee River on the West Palisades Trail
Hike, bike, walk or run the ultra-scenic paved trail at Paces Mill Park on the Chattahoochee River at West Palisades, following the banks of the wide-flowing 'Hooch to Rottenwood Creek, a sun-dappled tributary.
The West Palisades Trail explores the scenic Paces Mill Park near Vinings, one of the Chattahoochee River’s most popular recreation areas in metro Atlanta. The park’s broad network of running, walking and biking trails, including the West Palisades Trail, Bob Callan Trail and Rottenwood Creek Trail, follow a paved path through a wooded forest and explore riverine ecosystems that are great for spotting wildlife.
This paved trail adventure follows the broad, grand Chattahoochee River before swinging to follow Rottenwood Creek upstream to a small waterfall at the trail’s end. It’s equally great for a sunny afternoon stroll, an early morning wildlife-spotting adventure, or a moderately hilly running workout, and offers some of the river’s best views in the metro area. However you adventure, please remember to pack out everything you’ve packed in, and to leave no trace to help preserve the park’s natural beauty.
Paces Mill Park on the West Palisades Trail: the run
The adventure departs from the West Palisades Trailhead at Paces Mill Park near Vinings (view maps and driving directions), traveling northeast and following the Chattahoochee River’s banks. The river’s banks and rocky shoals are prime habitats for wildlife, including deer, geese, and heron.
The trail passes under a highway overpass at just over .5 mile. The highway’s enormous concrete supports tower cathedral-like over the wide, smooth-flowing river, a juxtaposition of nature and urban infrastructure. Views of the Chattahoochee River open wide after the trail ducks out from under the towering overpass, and the river’s flow is often glassy and reflective in this stretch.
The trail crosses a bridge spanning Rottenwood Creek before arcing northwest. Several dirt side trails depart on trail right, diving into the forest along the river’s banks. This stretch of the West Palisades is remote, and makes for a great trail run or fantastic urban hike; check out our review of the West Palisades Trail at Akers Drive for photos and details.
The paved trail arcs to the northwest, following the contours of the tumbling Rottenwood Creek on the left. The trail crosses a wooden boardwalk and then crosses the creek via a large wood and metal bridge. Several side trails depart on the trail’s right, offering access to the creekbed, a popular swimming hole for dogs.
The meanders through switchbacks, beginning a steep climb towards Akers Mill Road. Rottenwood Creek drops far below the trail to the right.
The trail levels after a steady climb, crossing Rottenwood Creek over an elevated bridge. A small waterfall cascades over large boulders below the bridge, shaded by a towering highway bridge.
From here, this adventure on the West Palisades Trail doubles back to Paces Mill park, retracing its outbound steps the trailhead. The return run is almost all downhill, descending along Rottenwood Creek to the banks of the Chattahoochee River, and then running nearly level to return to the trailhead. The run reaches the parking area at 3.6 miles, finishing the adventure.
Nearby trail adventures on the Chattahoochee River
The West Palisades Trail offers access to the Akers Mill Trail, a connecting trail to the ultra-popular running, walking and biking trails at Cochran Shoals and the 8.5-mile adventure from Cochran Shoals to Sope Creek Park. And across the river from West Palisades lies one of our all-time favorite trails in metro Atlanta, the ultra-scenic running and hiking trails at East Palisades.
The Palisades trails are just a few of many fantastic trails along the Chattahoochee River in metro Atlanta. Find a great adventure on the metro ‘Hooch on our favorite Chattahoochee River running, hiking, biking and walking trails.
Paces Mill Park on the West Palisades Trail Map, Directions & Details
$3 day pass, or included with a Chattahoochee River NRA annual pass.
33.869550, -84.454250 // N33 52.173 W84 27.255