Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Sandy Springs

#2 of 8 in Things to do in Sandy Springs
Wildlife Area · Hidden Gem · Nature / Park
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA) preserves a series of sites between Atlanta and Lake Sidney Lanier along the Chattahoochee River, Georgia, U.S. The 48-mile (77 km) stretch of the river affords public recreation opportunities and access to historic sites. The National Recreation Area, a National Park Service unit, was established on August 15, 1978, by President Jimmy Carter.

The park headquarters and visitor center are located at the Island Ford Unit of the park, at 1978 Island Ford Parkway in Sandy Springs, Georgia. The Chattahoochee River is a stocked trout stream with 23 species of game fish. Year-round fishing is available with a Georgia fishing license and a trout stamp.

In 2012, the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area was designated as the Chattahoochee River Water Trail to become the first river named a National Water Trail. The National Water Trails System was created by the U.S. Department of the Interior to increase access to water-based outdoor recreation, encourage community stewardship of local waterways, and promote tourism.
Cochran Shoals is the largest and most popular unit of the park, featuring a 3-mile (4.8 km) fitness trail, suitable for walking/jogging/biking, which is wheelchair-accessible and is excellent for bird- and wildlife-watching. The historic Marietta Paper Mill ruins along Sope Creek are preserved within the Sope Creek unit of the area. The Akers Mill ruins along Rottenwood Creek are found within the West Palisades unit. Steep rock cliffs rise from the river's flood plain in the East Palisades unit of the park.

Powers Island was named for James Power (1790–1870). In 1835, he established Power's ferry on the Chattahoochee River, connecting what is now Sandy Springs to Cobb County. Power's Ferry, now spelled Powers Ferry, was used by units of General William Sherman's army in July 1864. The ferry was eventually replaced by a bridge, which was built in 1903.

The Vickery Creek unit preserves a rugged and scenic stretch of Vickery Creek (also known as Big Creek) from Grimes Bridge Road to its mouth at the Chattahoochee River. The ruins of Ivy Mill, which was a wool mill that produced fabric for Confederate soldiers, are located in this unit along with the historic Allenbrook House. Ivy Mill was destroyed by the Union Army in 1864, and the women factory workers were sent North for the duration of the war. The Allenbrook House, completed in 1857, was the home and office of the manager of Ivy Mill.

From the Vickery Creek Unit, pedestrians can use sidewalks and spur trails for convenient access to Chattahoochee River Park (a Roswell Recreation and Parks/Fulton County park), Riverside Park, Don White Memorial Park, Willeo Creek Park on the Cobb County line, Waller Park on Hog Wallow Creek, and the Chattahoochee Nature Center. Roswell Mill can be accessed via a spur trail and covered bridge that crosses the creek at the site of the Roswell Mill Machine Shop, which was built in 1853 and is the only original building left standing of the 1839 Roswell Manufacturing Company. The Roswell Mill building currently left standing was built in 1882 and is now used as an office complex.

The Chattahoochee River itself is one of Georgia's premier trout streams. It also offers picturesque areas for boating, canoeing, and rafting. It is very popular in the summer months for visitors to rent tubes and float from Powers Island to Paces Mill.

United States Park Rangers patrol the 48 miles (77 km) of river and 10,000 acres (4,000 ha) of land units with patrol vehicles, jet-powered boats, kayaks, and mountain bikes; and they hike the trails on foot. Rangers enforce the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) as well as Georgia criminal and traffic codes and are authorized to carry firearms and make arrests. U.S. Park Rangers are commissioned Federal police officers who are trained in emergency medical services (EMS) and wildland firefighting. They are required to complete over 11 months of law-enforcement training (4 months initially and then an additional 7 months) at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, Georgia, in order to protect both park visitors and the area's natural resources.

In 2014, the CRNRA was given the Award for Outstanding Service to Environmental Education by the Georgia Environmental Education Association – an affiliate of the North American Association for Environmental Education.
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Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
114 reviews
  • I got lost in the woods but was able to survive many days living off the land like I did in Alaska..  more »
  • I really loved this park! It was so nice to sit and just listen to the sound of the water. My son even found it to be relaxing! It was nice and peaceful!  more »
  • Could be a great place if people knew how to act. If you’re going to sack up your dogs poop just to leave it trail side, do us all a favor and just leave the bag in the dispenser. Poop is poop but poop in a plastic bag is litter. One of us responsible human beings will kick it into the woods for you. Also, the speed limit is 25.
  • Beautiful forested trails beside the Chattahoochee River are a pleasure to walk. Waterfowl, mammoth rock formations and the calming sound of the river make it a wonderful place to get away

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