A man and dog hiking along the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta, Georgia

Hiking along the Chattahoochee River on the East Palisades Trail. Photo by @benjamingalland

Forget You're in Atlanta with a Hike Along the Chattahoochee River

Escape the busy streets of the city for the hush of nature on the East Palisades Trail.

Not far from the towering high rises in Atlanta, off the bustling I-75 interstate, down a residential street, is a secret hiking path that follows the Chattahoochee River. It's the perfect place to escape to the woods, explore a bamboo forest, and exchange the busy sounds of the city for tweeting birds and rushing water.

Here's what you can expect on a hike through the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area’s East Palisades trail.

Hiker looking up into the bamboo forest on the East Palisades Trail along the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta. Photo by Brittany Adele Foster, @lifeofbrittanyadele
Bamboo forest on the East Palisades Trail. Photo by @lifeofbrittanyadele

Getting There

There are two parking lots for the East Palisades trail

  • The Indian Trail Entrance at 1425 Indian Trail NW, Sandy Springs
  • The Whitewater Creek Entrance at 4058 Whitewater Creek Rd NW, Atlanta. The Whitewater entrance has more parking available.

What to Expect

In short, you’ll find sandy beaches where dogs splash around in the water, wooden and metal bridges that cross meandering creeks finding their way to the Chattahoochee River, a bamboo forest that would make the pandas at Zoo Atlanta salivate, an old-fashioned swimming hole where teens jump from jagged rocks into the refreshing water below, the ruins of a building foundation, and 4.9 miles of hiking trails with a grade between 14 and 38 percent.

East Palisades trail map image
East Palisades trail map

Download a PDF of the East Palisades Trail map

There are markers on the trails to help hikers navigate, so although the trails meander, it’s easy to find your way.

Here are a few places you don’t want to miss.

EP-1 – A watery dog park where the fur babies can swim and splash with each other as their parents chill out on the beach.

EP 5 – A beautiful rock outcropping overlooking the rushing Chattahoochee. This is a perfect spot for a picnic.

Between EP-10 & EP14 – Between these points, you’ll find beautiful views of Atlanta. Bring your camera (or your easel and paints) to capture the scene from Poppi’s Point, an overlook where you can see the tall buildings nearby, as well as a bird’s eye view of the rushing water below.

Child climbing a tree in the bamboo forest on the East Palisades Trail by the Chattahoochee River. Photo by Kelly Wilson, @pokkychoo
Bamboo forest on the East Palisades Trail by the Chattahoochee River. Photo by @pokkychoo

E-26 – This is where you’ll find the bamboo forest. One media outlet quoted two young girls who called this the "Enchanted Bamboo Forest of Planet River." You’ll know exactly what they mean when you see this. The area could absolutely contain fairies, unicorns and other enchanted beings.

More Nearby Hikes

West Palisades Trail

One the other side of the Chattahoochee is the West Palisades Trail.

There are two entrances:

  • The Akers Mill Entrance is at 3700 Akers Drive, Atlanta.
  • The Paces Mill entrance is at 3444 Cobb Parkway, Atlanta. The Paces Mill entrance has the most parking, as well as restrooms and a boat ramp, perfect for launching a kayak.

In addition to hiking trails, the West Palisades also has out an out-and-back bike trail that starts at the Paces Mill entrance. This is a popular place to bring pets, and there is a large field at the beginning of the trail for dogs to play.

Cochran Shoals Recreation Area

Head a bit north to Cochran Shoals Recreation Area, where you’ll find moderate hiking and biking paths. There are four entrances to this park, but the closest to the Palisades Trails is on Interstate North Parkway. You’ll find ample parking and restrooms before heading out on the trail.

Hikers on the East Palisades Trail in Atlanta
Hiking on the East Palisades Trail in Atlanta
Published: May 2024
Written by: Sue Rodman
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