Explore the Hooch: 7 must-visit spots on the Chattahoochee River

  • Eric Champlin
  • For the AJC
4:12 p.m Monday, Sept. 25, 2017 Spring in Atlanta

From a mere trickle to deep pools and serene wetlands to tumbling whitewater, the Chattahoochee River is full of possibilities for outdoor adventure.

Hike, bike, paddle or float the river at these scenic spots to catch a dose of outdoor fun, see the Chattahoochee's natural beauty and explore the river's diversity.

Northern Georgia

Hike to the Chattahoochee's headwaters.The Chattahoochee River begins as a mere trickle deep in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Up for an 8+ mile adventure? Hike the Appalachian Trail southbound from Unicoi Gap to Chattahoochee Gap, where you'll see the river's humble beginnings as a trickling spring.

Float the Hooch in HelenSouth of its namesake gap, the Hooch runs wide and shallow thorough the German themed village of alpine Helen. Pack a swimsuit and float the pebble-bottomed river by tube for a refreshing and relaxing adventure.

Metro Atlanta

Hike Chattahoochee BendExplore the river's wide meander at one of Georgia's newest state parks near Newnan. Hike the trails at Chattahoochee Bend State Park through pine forest and old growth trees on the river's banks. Climb an observation tower for great views of the river, and keep an eye out for wildlife: you'll likely spot turtles, large rabbits, scurrying armadillo and deer near the trail.

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Hike to a heisted bridgeTrek a four mile loop at Jones Bridge Park to explore the remains of a century-old metal bridge that once spanned the river. Visit the shell of the rusty, narrow bridge that was heisted by thieves in the 1940s, trek through rolling forest on the banks of the Chattahoochee and a visit a small, glassy pond.

Explore an islandAfter a run on the ultra-popular Cochran Shoals running trail, trek across the river to Powers Island. Explore the quiet, wooded Powers Island and the surrounding, rolling forest, catching views of the river's whitewater shoals and the remains of an old homestead.

Hike through a bamboo forestEast Palisades is one of the metro area's most popular hiking and trail running destinations. Explore the banks of the river to see whitewater and wildlife before climbing to a high-elevation bluff for some great mid-hike views. Then descend through a shady forest and follow the river upstream to reach a dense bamboo forest on the river's rocky banks.

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Southern Georgia

Raft the Chattahoochee's rapidsSouth of metro Atlanta's mild flow, the river runs wild through Columbus, tumbling in tumultuous whitewater. Float the Chattahoochee River's rapids on a 2.5 mile stretch of urban whitewater, and choose from a family-friendly float during low water (class I - III rapids) or a thrilling guided paddle during high water (class I - IV+ rapids). After your on-river adventure, explore the river by land on the 15-mile Chattahoochee Riverwalk, a great run, bike or walk on a paved trail that hugs the river's shores.

Eric Champlin is an outdoor enthusiast, and the editor of AtlantaTrails.com and AshevilleTrails.com, online magazines that highlight the South's best outdoor adventures.

Chattahoochee Boardwalk in Roswell