Johnson Ferry Trail – #5 from the book 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Atlanta

Look for this in bronze in about 20 years.

Johnson Ferry Trail is my 6th hike from the book 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Atlanta.  I’ve set a personal goal to hike all 60 trails in the book, no time limit but at my current pace I’m on track to finish in about 2 1/2 years.  Hiking through this book is introducing me to a lot of places in metro Atlanta I’d likely never have seen and also showing me what beautiful surroundings we have just a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of the city.

My friend Brian and his wife Uma joined me for this hike and I took my dog Boo along as well.  The trail was pretty deserted so I was able to let her off the leash for most of the hike.  Brian quickly learned that Boo’s motto is not “Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way“, but simply, “Get the hell out of the way.”  It’s interesting to see how dog’s act sometimes.  She definitely made it known that she intended to lead and in the narrow parts of the trail she would dart left and right trying to pass anyone that got in front of her, at one point she was on Brian’s heels and pushing along as they came up to a spot where the trail split and quickly came back together, she wasted no time in entering the passing lane to regain the lead.  However she paced herself in front of us and if we lagged back too much she’d stop and look back at us to make sure we were still following.  She also stayed right on the trail except for the occasional detour to check out any movement in the leaves.  She’s a pretty sharp pup.

Boo Swimming

Boo managed to get in a quick swim.

Johnson Ferry Trail is a 2.1 mile loop (on the main trail) that follows the banks of the Chattahoochee River.  The trailhead was once home to the Chattahoochee Outdoor Center where thousands of people each weekend would set off in rafts to be picked up at points further south.  Sadly, pollution levels in the river caused the popularity of rafting trips to drop and the Center closed in 2002.   You can still see the buildings and pavilion the enter at the trail’s entrance and there is still a boat ramp available.  However the parking lots are grown over and the ruins of picnic shelters are other structures are scattered in the woods along the trail.

We set off to hike the trail as listed in the book but we ended up taking a left when we should have taken a right at a small sign on the trail and we ended up in some off the beaten path terrain.  This was actually the most enjoyable part of the hike with the trail winding in and out of the riverbed and up and down some hills.  Most of the riverbed is smooth rock scattered with larger chunks of rocks with small pools throughout.  At a couple of bends in the stream there were larger pools and Boo took advantage of these to get in a quick swim.  To check out this part of the trail take the left fork at the small sign located about 1 mile along the trail as measured from the parking fee collection box, there is a $3.00 per vehicle fee to park.   The trail here is less worn but noticeable however the further back you go the more it becomes overgrown.  After hiking about 3/4 mile up we decided to turn back as it wasn’t clear where the trail went from there.

GPS Map of Johnson Ferry Trail

Take a left at the red arrow for a bit more scenic and challenging hike.

The main part of the trail is enjoyable but nothing exciting.  It’s a nice and very easy hike with some great views of the Chattahoochee River.  There were a couple of benches on the trail on the return leg where you could sit and look out over the river.  There were also a couple areas where you could get down to the banks of the river if you wanted to do some fishing.  The water here moves along fairly quickly so this isn’t a place to toss a pole in and sit back, you’ll have to stay active to fish here.  There were also a few people fishing along the river in small boats and canoes.

If you want a super easy hike with the option to add in a bit of interesting terrain then this would fit the bill.  Total hike for us came to 3.62 miles but would have been 2.1 as stated in the book if we’d stayed on the marked path.  Our total hiking time was right at 2 hours.  As mentioned before there is a $3.00 parking fee at the facility, there is an upper parking lot just off Johnson Ferry and a lower parking lot closer to the trailhead, the fee collection box is in the upper parking lot.  There are restrooms and a covered picnic area at the trailhead and if you want to drop in a canoe or even a larger boat there is a ramp available.  That makes six down now, only 54 more to go!

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Chattahoochee Nature Center – #15 in 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Atlanta

This past Sunday I went to Chattahoochee Nature Center in Roswell to hike their trails.  CNC is #15 in 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Atlanta.

Location: 9135 Willeo Road, Roswell, GA  30075
Phone: (770) 992-2055
Trail length: 2.5 miles total
Difficulty: Easy with very small hills.
Notes:  CNC is a non-profit and they do charge admission, the adult admission price is $8.00 per person.

The forecast for Sunday here was for it to be hot… very hot.  I stepped out in my yard and thought, “It’s hot, but it’s not too bad, I’m going for a hike.”  Well, I made my hike but boy was it a scorcher once I got moving around.  Highest temp my iPhone showed while I was hiking was 101F, it was actually difficult to breathe the air at that temp, I ended up cutting this hike a bit short but still got to see a good bit of the nature center.

CNC sits along the banks of the Chatthoochee River.  The trails wind around a couple lakes on the North side of the river and there is also a boardwalk trail on the river.  In addition to the trails CNC also has a small indoor education and some love displays with possums, snakes, owls, turtles and a few fish.  They do offer guided hikes as well, stopping to tell a bit about the flora and fauna as you hike the trails.  Outside the nature center is an aviary.  There are enclosures with a few types of owls, bald eagles, vultures and hawks.  There is also a beaver habitat where I found a stubbornly camera shy beaver hiding under the banks of his little lake.  In addition to the displays there is also quite a bit of natural wildlife including squirrels, chipmunks, turtles, many birds and fish.

There are a variety of trails in the park including paved trails, natural forest trails and the river boardwalk.  All of the trails are easy with the forest trail having some slight hills as you wind through the trees and along a lakeside.  Throughout all of the trails are signs noting the different animals and plants you might encounter.  All in all it was a very enjoyable, although hot hike.  There’s a lot to see at the Nature Center and I’ll definitely go again when it cools down.

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