Hike the Powers Island Trail on the banks of the Chattahoochee River, exploring the historic Powers Island and the river’s rocky, boulder-filled banks.
The Powers Island Trail is one of the lesser-traveled trails of Atlanta’s Chattahoochee National Recreation Area. Serene and sometimes deserted, this quiet hiking and running trail loops through a beautiful riverside forest. The trail explores an island, an inlet, and the banks of the shoaling Chattahoochee River on a 2.5-mile trail loop near Vinings.
It’s the “other” trail at the Chattahoochee’s angular, whitewater-filled Cochran Shoals. And yes, it’s more than just overflow parking for its exceptionally popular trail neighbor, the Cochran Shoals Trail. In contrast to the broad trails at Cochran Shoals, the width of this trail is comparatively tight – so it’s perfect for small hiking groups or single-file trail runs. And it’s arguably more scenic than the trail across the river – though it’s slightly more challenging, with a mid-trail climb to a riverside ridge.
Powers Island Trail: the hike
The adventure begins at the signed trailhead southern perimeter of the parking area (view maps and driving directions). The route catches the best Chattahoochee River views early in the hike, crossing a metal bridge and setting foot on Powers Island, and hiking west toward the wide, shoaling Chattahoochee River. The island’s name shares roots with the nearby Powers Ferry Road: James Powers operated a ferry from the island during the early 1800s, providing access across the wide, whitewater-filled Chattahoochee River.
The trail meets the river’s banks at a kayak and canoe takeout and swings northwest, following the river’s banks and hiking through a densely vegetated forest. The trail reaches the northern tip of the island, looping southeast to trace a shallow, smooth flowing inlet back toward the bridge.
The trail’s island loop completes at .7 mile, reaching and crossing the bridge. The hike crosses the parking area, departing from the park’s northeast trailhead. The trail runs an old gravel roadbed, hiking through a forest studded with large rock outcrops and old stacked-stone walls.
The route follows a number of trails on the river’s shore. Two parallel trails follow the contours of the Chattahoochee River, offering wide-open river views after passing the island at 1 mile. Hike side trails, departing on the trail’s left, for the best views.
The trail crosses through a bamboo thicket before reaching the park’s northern boundary at 1.3 miles, turning to retrace the hike southbound. The route veers left on the return hike to follow a loop, grabbing elevation on a nearby ridge. The loop hikes through an ivy and vine-filled deciduous forest, where wildflowers and mushrooms stretch to reach sunlight in warm summertime months.
On the ridge crest, old stacked-stone retaining walls terrace the forest, now covered in thick tendrils of emerald ivy.
Departing the ridge at 2 miles, the hike levels and retraces the shores of the Chattahoochee River, crossing several bridges and catching views of the island across the inlet. The hike reaches the parking area trailhead at 2.5 miles, finishing the adventure.
Trails and routes may change – so please refer to official trail maps for the latest route.
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$5 day pass, or included with a Chattahoochee River NRA annual pass.
33.903817, -84.442167 // N33 54.229 W84 26.530