Location: Atlanta to Lake Lanier, Georgia
Webpage: National Park
General Description: The park is a series of 15 units along a 48 mile stretch of the Chattahoochee River. The park is rich with natural and cultural history, each influenced by the river’s pervasive force. For centuries people have been drawn to the river for food, transportation, and power to sustain mills, factories, and homes. Today there are over 50 miles of hiking trails in the park, picnic areas, fields for playing or relaxing, or floating down the river in a raft, canoe, or kayak.
1) The Visitor Center at the Island Ford Park Headquarters is a good place to start your exploration of the park. While the Visitor Center is small, the Rangers provided very good information about hiking trails and historical points of interest. Since most of the units to the north are primarily boat landings, we decided to stay in the southern section of the park.
2) Located at the Visitor Center is probably the best hiking trail along the Chattahoochee River. There are numerous trails that can be accessed from the main trail along the river making a number of loop trails of varying lengths. We hiked about a mile along the river before heading up the bank and looping back to the parking lot at the Visitor Center. The hike was very easy providing a lot of nice views of the river and woods.
3) We visited the textile mill ruins at Waller Park along Vickery Creek which are maintained by the City of Roswell. It is a nice park, but difficult to access due to traffic and parking was tight. The history of the textile mill was interesting as it was producing fine cotton paper during the Civil War that was used to make Confederate money and bonds. When Sherman captured Atlanta, the mill was burned and the workers were sent north by rail into Kentucky.
4) Further south along the river at Sope Creek there are the ruins of the Marietta Paper Mill that was also burned by Sherman during the Civil War, never to be rebuilt. The stone foundations of the mill are still evident and worth the moderate hike down from the small parking lot.