How to Hike, Bike, and Block Just Outside Atlanta

Fueled by a recent population boom – third in the nation for metropolitan growth according to the U.S. Census Bureau – Atlanta’s energy is contagious. This vibrant Southern metropolis offers residents and visitors the perfect blend of urban excitement and natural escapes. I take every opportunity I can to visit this Southern gem and am always surprised and impressed by how truly active and outdoorsy the city is. Atlanta reminds me that I don’t need to go west for outdoor adventures; Here I barely have to leave the city center.

Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, practically Atlanta’s backyard, is the perfect, easy escape from the city, offering scenic waterways, wooded trails, and miles of river to float, all within walking distance. a few minutes by car. So whether you’re in the mood for a relaxing paddle or a thrilling mountain bike ride, we’ve got you covered.

Emily Hart


The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area is not only close to Atlanta; the town itself is actually nestled along the Chattahoochee River, where the park then extends 48 scenic miles south. Visitors can easily hop in their car, plug an input into their navigation system, and be taken to an oasis in the middle of the city. This easy accessibility means you can paddle tranquil waters or hike wooded trails in 20 minutes, depending on which park entrance you choose. On average, just a 20-mile drive from Atlanta is what makes for a quick getaway into nature for city dwellers or visitors.



The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area has more than 90 miles of trails, ranging from easy trails perfect for beginners to moderate and challenging hikes for experienced hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Emily Hart

East Palisades Trail and Bamboo Forest

Length: 4.2 miles
Difficulty: Moderate

The East Palisades Trail and Bamboo Forest is a popular 4.2-mile loop trail that is a great option for hikers and trail runners looking for scenic views, interesting geological features, and a forest of unexpected bamboos.

You’ll pass through a forested landscape along the Chattahoochee River, with glimpses of the water below and the surrounding countryside, the ruins of an old mill, and if you continue hiking you’ll come to the relatively small but whimsical Bamboo . forest.

Golden Branch Trail

Length: 3.4 miles
Difficulty: Moderate

A little further from Atlanta is the Gold Branch Trail, known for its scenic beauty and moderately difficult terrain due to some steep slopes with rocky surfaces in places. Hikers will explore the terrain along the banks of the Chattahoochee River and the shores of Bull Sluice Lake, which is full of plants and wildlife to admire.

Chattahoochee River Loop from Interstate North Trailhead

Length: 3.3 miles
Difficulty: Easy

If you’re just looking for something relaxing and scenic, the Chattahoochee River Loop from the Interstate North Trailhead is a fantastic option. The trail winds along the Chattahoochee River, offering picturesque water views throughout the hike, and the flat terrain and wide trail make it accessible to almost everyone.


Cycling-only trails aren’t as plentiful as some of the other activities here, but there are still great options for road cyclists and mountain bikers.

Road cycling: Many cyclists choose to use the park’s roads, all of which are open to cyclists. This makes it easy to enjoy a scenic ride along the Chattahoochee River or explore the interior of the park.

Mountain bike: Currently, 7.11 miles of trails within the Cochran Shoals and Palisades units are open to cyclists. Since these trails are shared with hikers, you should pay attention to trail etiquette.


Emily Hart

Boating is probably the best way to experience the beauty of the Chattahoochee River. It offers opportunities for leisurely floats, exciting whitewater adventures and everything in between. With options between 2 and 13 miles, you can spend an hour or two on the river or all day.

Although there is white water in the lower Chattahoochee, the area of ​​the river that is within the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area is known for its scenic, calm waters. It’s perfect for a relaxing float trip, gentle kayaking, or a fishing trip. There are many outfitters in the area to rent a kayak, canoe, float or raft.


There aren’t many bouldering options, but the ease of access from the metro makes it a popular choice for climbers.

Ford Island: This popular but small bouldering area is in the Island Ford section of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. Despite its small size, it offers a variety of boulder problems, ranging from low to medium difficulty.

The Palisades: In the East Palisades section of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, climbers will find “The Palisades,” a small cliff with dozens of bouldering problems ranging from easy to difficult.

As you can see, there are plenty of incredible adventures on the outskirts of Atlanta, with plentiful food, nightlife, and hotel options in the city proper.

Be sure to keep an eye on our 10 mile challenge Hub to learn more about the 2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport, Limited and other adventures that can be unlocked around the corner.