Descriptions of parks along the Chattahoochee

Vickery Creek Unit to Powers Island Unit
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Hours: All Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area units: daily, 7 a.m. to dark.
For a map of all parks along the Chattahoochee River corridor, contact

Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
Park Headquarters
1917 Island Ford Parkway
Atlanta, GA 30350
770/399-8070

 

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The following CRNRA park units, as well as other river parks between Buford Dam and Peachtree Creek, are listed in order from north to south, upstream to downstream.

Vickery Creek Unit

This unit covers about 254 acres around Vickery Creek, sometimes referred to as Big Creek, a tributary of the Chattahoochee. Steep bluffs of rock create a rugged and varied terrain along the creek. One such bluff, known as Lover's Leap, affords a great view and can be reached from a trail on the west side of the creek. The powerful waters of Vickery Creek led Roswell King to build the town of Roswell with cotton mills in 1830s. Ruins of the Roswell Cotton Mills and mill dam still exist and can be seen from the hiking trail system.

Near the confluence of Vickery Creek and the Chattahoochee, the Ivy Woolen Mill was built between 1856 and 1857 as well as Allenbrook, which served as home and office for the loom boss. A trail from Allenbrook leads to some ruins of the woolen mill, but it is extremely difficult to find as the trail is nearly impassable around the ruins.

Facilities:Picnic area, viewing areas, hiking trail, fishing on creek.
Fees: Parking, $2.
Directions: From I-285, exit north on Roswell Road. Go past the river to the Azalea Drive/Riverside Road intersection and turn right onto Riverside Road. Cross Vickery Creek and take an immediate left into the park. To reach the small, unmarked entrance on the west side of the creek, stay on Roswell Road, crossing the Azalea Drive/Riverside Road intersection. Carefully look for the entrance into Allenbrook on the right-hand side of the street. There is no sign, only a curved brick entrance wall. Turn right and park in the small parking lot.

Chattahoochee River Park

This 770-acre park, managed by Fulton County Parks and Recreation, is very popular and usually crowded. The Atlanta Rowing Club operates from a building here and offers courses in rowing. The Abernathy arts and crafts program also has use of a building here for drawing and painting classes. The park is the site of activities ranging from water ballets to national rowing regattas. Note that this is the last take-out for boaters before Morgan Falls Dam.

Facilities: Boat/canoe/raft launch, picnic tables, hiking trail, playground.
Days/Hours: Daily, 6 a.m. - midnight.
Directions: From I-285, exit north on Roswell Road. Take Roswell Road until it crosses the river and immediately turn left on Azalea Drive, following it along the river to the park.
More information
Fulton County Parks and Recreation

141 Pryor Street, Suite 8054
Atlanta GA 30303
phone: 404/730-6200
fax 404/730-6206

Gold Branch Unit

This 358 acres of woods and marshy environment lies 35 miles downstream from Buford Dam. It is adjacent to Bull Sluice Lake, an impoundment of the Chattahoochee created during the construction of Morgan Falls Dam. There is no boat ramp here. The nearest ramps are at Chattahoochee River Park, two miles upstream from Morgan Falls Dam and Morgan Falls Park, just below the dam. Despite the rapid urbanization around the unit there are many species of wildlife such as beaver, squirrel, rabbit, opossum and raccoon. A large number of nut-and-fruit bearing tees support this substantial wildlife population.

Facilities: Picnic area, hiking trail.
Fees: Parking, $2.
Directions: From I-285, exit north on Roswell Road, turn left on Johnson Ferry Road. Cross the river. Turn right on Lower Roswell Road. Park entrance on right.

Morgan Falls Park

This park is operated by Fulton County Parks and Recreation and sits right below Morgan Falls Dam. This is a large and very nice park, but its emphases are more on ball teams and athletics than on river recreation. Facilities: Boat/canoe/raft launch; ball fields; picnic shelter; golf driving range; playground.

Days/Hours: Daily, 6 a.m.-midnight.
Directions: From I-285, exit north on Roswell Road. Turn left on Morgan Falls Road and follow signs.
More Information:
Fulton County Parks and Recreation
141 Pryor Street, Suite 8054
Atlanta GA 30303
phone: 404/730-6200
fax 404/730-6206

Johnson Ferry Unit

For thousands of years humans hunted, gathered, fished and farmed in this unit, relying on the natural environment for all their needs. River cane was woven into baskets. Quartz stones were chipped into arrow points. Nuts and seeds were collected to eat. Fish weirs were built to harvest fish. Just a hundred years ago, Mr. Johnson's ferry traveled silently, carrying travelers back and forth across the river. Named for the 18th-century ferry crossing, the Johnson Ferry Unit is a physiographic continuation of the Cochran Shoals flood plain. It has been divided into two areas separated by Johnson Ferry Road: Johnson Ferry North and Johnson Ferry South.

Johnson Ferry North contains over 100 acres of fields, forests, wetlands and four streams. The flat floodplain forest trail, the Mulberry Creek Loop Trail, is excellent for viewing birds, wildlife and wildflowers, and the cold water of the river is great for fishing 22 species of game fish including trout.

Facilities: Canoe/raft launch, picnic areas, hiking trail, restrooms, telephone. The Chattahoochee Outdoor Center has raft rental and shuttle and a concession stand with snack food, water, juices and t-shirts. The Center will also prepare a"river lunch" for boaters which consists of a deli-style sandwich, chips, pickle, pasta or potato salad and a soft drink. Cost per person is $7.25 plus tax.
Fees: Parking, $2.
Directions: From I-285, exit north at Riverside Drive, Exit 16. Go 2.3 miles to Johnson Ferry Road and turn left. The entrance to Johnson Ferry North is on the right-hand side of Johnson Ferry Road right after the river.
More Information: Chattahoochee Outdoor Center, 770/395-6851.

Johnson Ferry South contains about 70 acres of floodplain with large, green open spaces and riverfront hardwoods. In the 1900s this particular tract of land was a farm; however, most recently it served as the home for the Atlanta Polo Club. A dirt farm road that borders about 1.5 miles of the riverbank is the only established footpath in the unit. This unit has two large activity fields that are available for individual and group use.

Facilities: 3,000-square-foot picnic pavilion, 2 large activity fields, hiking , good fishing.
Fees: Parking, $2.
Directions: From I-285, exit north on Riverside Drive, Exit 16. Go 2.3 miles to Johnson Ferry Road and turn left, cross the Chattahoochee River and then take an immediate left onto columns Drive. The unit will be on the left. The park entrance for Area 1 is 0.1 mile, and the park entrance for Area 2 is 0.7 of a mile.

Sope Creek Unit

This unit connects with the Cochran Shoals Unit and is one of the most historic and interesting areas in the entire CRNRA. Sope Creek is named for a full-blooded Cherokee Indian who lived along its banks. The Indians had been removed by law from the area in 1838, but somehow Old Chief Sope managed to remain. It is said that little boys in the area would run away from home to visit the kindly man who told them stories and taught them Cherokee words.

The stone ruins along the creek are remnants of the Marietta Paper Mill which produced a large portion of the South's paper from 1855 to 1902. Union troops burned the original mills in 1864. Contrary to popular belief, the ruins are from the buildings erected after the Civil War. To reach the mills, visitors must use the car parking lot at Sope Creek on Paper Mill Road and descend on foot to the ruins.

The trails on the west side of the creek connect with the Cochran Shoals unit as does the bicycle trail access. Sope Creek and Sibley Pond, in the middle of the unit, are considered year round fishing spots.

Facilities: Picnic area, hiking trail, bicycle trail access, fishing.
Fees: Parking, $2.
Directions: From I-285, exit north onto Riverside Drive. Turn left onto Johnson Ferry Road. Turn left onto Paper Mill Road. Follow this winding road to Terrell Mill Road and turn left. Entrance to park is on left.

Cochran Shoals Unit

Joggers, walkers trail bikers, and dog walkers make this one of the busiest park units in the CRNRA. At 9:04 a.m. on a Friday morning, 46 cars were counted in the parking lot as health and fitness enthusiasts started their routines. An expansive floodplain and wetlands area, often 2,500 feet wide, parallels the river. Here a 3-mile fitness trail has been installed with 22 exercise stations. This unit also provides access to the only bicycle trail in the CRNRA, a yellow-blazed trail which winds through Cochran Shoals and the neighboring Sope Creek Unit. Biker speed limit is 10 mph. Dogs are allowed on the trails, but they must be on a leash, and owners must clean up after them. Good trout fishing is also available along the shoals, which can be waded during low water. Higher flows require a float tube or boat.

Facilities: Picnic area, hiking trail, fitness trail, bike trail access (bikes must be registered with the Park), viewing areas, restrooms, telephone.
Fees: Parking, $2.
Directions: From I-285, exit west onto Northside Parkway. Turn left onto Interstate North Parkway. Cross the river and turn right into Cochran Shoals parking lot.

Powers Island Unit

Powers Island lies directly across the river from the Cochran Shoals Unit and is the put-in for canoeists and rafters of the 3-mile stretch of river, sometimes called the Atlanta Hooch. There is also a slalom course about 100 yards long in the inlet between the parking area and Powers Island, which is, unfortunately, rather trashy.

The unit is named for James Powers, who began operating a ferry across the river in 1835 and who also developed a large plantation near Vinings. Maps made at the time of the Civil War show over a dozen identified residences in a mile-wide strip on either side of the river from Powers Ferry to Sope Creek. The Powers family retained ownership of their land near Vinings until the 1930s.

Facilities: Canoe and kayak launch from east bank of Powers Island; raft launch from west bank of island. Slalom course with 20 gates, hiking trail, telephone. Chattahoochee Outdoor Center with concessions, raft rental and shuttle.
Fees: Parking, $2.
Directions: From Powers Ferry Road, turn right (west) on Inter-state Parkway North Entranceto Powers Island is past the Cochran Shoals entrance across the river and to the left.
More Information: Chattahoochee Outdoor Center, 770/395-6851.

© Article copyright Menasha Ridge Press. All rights reserved.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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