Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
The Chattahoochee may sound like a bad cold to most, but to an outdoor enthusiast residing in Atlanta, the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area is the city's saving grace. Located in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, this NRA takes over 50 miles of trail, waterfalls, trout streams, a 48-mile stretch of the Chattahoochee River, and a strip of the Appalachians, and places them within easy reach of the area's urbanites, just 25 minutes north of downtown.
The Chattahoochee NRA was created by President Jimmy Carter, a native Georgian, to protect this 48-mile segment of the Chattahoochee River and its adjoining lands . The area stretches across four counties, from Lake Lanier to the north to Cobb County on the south, and is considered one of the oldest and most stable river channels in the United States. The area features everything from ravine forests and bluffs to wetlands and undisturbed, open water areas.
The slow river runs clear and cold, and is inhabited by over 22 species of game fish. Aside from the obvious opportunities for fishing and boating, hiking, picnicking, horseback riding are also permitted. The Chattahoochee--which means place of marked or flowered rocks--also serves up a healthy dose of local history as the home of Civil War -era, and Native American archeological sites.
For the most fun in Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, try these GORP picks:
Paddle Smooth or Flat
Class I and II rapids got your name written all over them? Then the Chattahoochee is right up your alley. Though the river's cool temperature--it rarely gets warmer than 50 degrees--may frighten, the lower stretch of the river is ideal for novices and children looking to raft, kayak or canoe.
Hike Jones Bridge Trail
A great way to experience the tranquility offered by this park is to hike the 2.6 mile-long Jones Bridge Trail, an easy hike that runs along the Chattahoochee for two miles then climbs a low ridge in the middle of the park. Start in the northern end of the park's second parking area and follow the path up to the top of the low ridge and follow markers from here.
Bird the Woods
As if the mere existence of the a park of its kind so close to a major urban center wasn't hard enough to believe, the area is also a great place to see some of Georgia's local wildlife--without spending hours in a car. Follow directions for hiking the Jones Bridge Trail. When you arrive at the bridge, walk along the river to the left to a wet marsh-like area for best viewing.
Backpack Near Atlanta
The Upper Chattahoochee River campground is a great place to set up camp and explore the area. Short hikes from the grounds will take you to Horse Trough Falls, Poplar Stamp Gap and the Appalachian Trail.
1978 Island Ford Parkway
Atlanta, GA 30350-3400
Visitor Information - (770) 399-8070
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication