Descriptions of parks along the Chattahoochee
The following CRNRA park units, as well as other river parks between Buford Dam and Peachtree Creek, are listed in order from north to south, upstream to downstream.
Bowman's Island Unit
This is the northernmost unit of the CRNRA. It extends for about 2 miles along the river between Buford Dam and GA 20, one of the most beautiful sections of river in the metro Atlanta area. The clear, cold waters of the Chattahoochee which run through this unit are more characteristic of a mountain stream environment than any other part of the CRNRA. The river's banks are heavily forested with sycamore, red maple, river birch and ash. The cold lake water released at Buford Dam helps keep the river valley somewhat colder than the surrounding areas. The mountain-like waters provide excellent canoeing and fishing opportunities for rainbow, brook and brown trout. It is heavily wooded with numerous unusual and protected plant species. Topographically it its quite rugged, and there is evidence of prehistoric occupation. There are no developed facilities at Howman's island at this time.
The Buford Trout Hatchery is located just south of the Bowman's Island Unit on the river's west bank. This hatchery, which is the state's largest, raises over 500,000 stockable brown and rainbow trout for Georgia trout streams each year. Self-guided and group tours are available at the hatchery.
Directions: This portion of the river can be easily accessed from the Corps of Engineers boat ramp at Lower Pool Park right below Buford Dam. There is no parking lot for Bowman's Island. To get to the Buford Trout l hatchery from GA 400 north, turn east on SR 20 (Exit 14). Go about 4 miles and turn left into Chattahoochee River Club subdivision. Take the fourth right onto Trout Place Road. This will dead-end into the Hatchery.
Buford Trout Hatchery
3204 Trout Place
Cumming, GA 30131
For information on water release schedules and safety information tune to 1610 AM on the radio or call 770/945-1466. In the event of an emergency on this portion of the river, the following phone numbers are provided:
Corps of Engineers, 770/945-9531
National Park Service, 770/952-0370
Georgia Game and Fish, 770/535-5495
Forsyth County Sheriff, 770/887-4330
Gwinnett County Police, 770/962-1900
McGinnis Ferry Unit
This is another undeveloped park unit. Its 161 acres stretch about two miles along the river, about eight miles south of Buford Dam. There is no parking lot here, and any access to the river is via undeveloped pathways.
Directions: From Peachtree Industrial Boulevard north,turn left on McGinnis Ferry Road.
Suwanee Creek Unit
This small unit of the CRNRA is located on the west side of the river, about 10 miles below Buford Dam and north of Rogers Bridge. There is no parking lot in this undeveloped park and access to the river is via undeveloped pathways.
Directions: From Peachtree Industrial Boulevard north, turn left on Chattahoochee Drive.
Abbotts Bridge Unit
This unit of the CRNRA is about 13 miles downstream from Buford Dam and has the first restroom facilities between here and Lake Lanier. There are no other restrooms until the Jones Bridge Unit, which is another 7 miles downstream. This is also the first boat ramp since the ramp below Buford Dam at Lower Pool Park.
Facilities: Boat/canoe/raft launch, picnic tables, restrooms.
Fees: Parking, $2.
Directions: From GA 400 north, exit east on GA 120, State Bridge Road. Follow this until it turns into Abbotts Bridge Road. Follow to the river and watch for the signs.
Medlock Bridge Unit
Four miles downstream from Abbotts Bridge is a tight bend in the river where rock palisades rise above the deep water. This is the 43-acre Medlock Bridge Unit.
Facilities: Boat/canoe/raft launch, picnic tables, hiking trail.
Fees: Parking, $2.
Directions: From Peachtree Industrial Boulevard north, take GA 141 (Peachtree Parkway) and watch for the signs. Park is on right.
Jones Bridge Park
This park is on the east side of the Chattahoochee River across from the Jones Bridge Unit of the CRNRA and is part of the Gwinnett County Park System.
Facilities: Covered group shelter, covered and uncovered picnic tables, grills, viewing deck along river overlooking Jones Bridge Shoals, playground, soccer field, volleyball area, restrooms.
Days/Hours: Sunup to sundown.
Directions: From Peachtree Industrial Boulevard north, turn left on Peachtree Parkway. Go to East Jones Bridge Road and turn left. Park is at the end of the road.
Jones Bridge-Barnwell Unit
This 195-acre unit stretches along one of the prettiest sections of the river. From Jones Bridge to Holcomb Bridge is prime canoeing and fishing, especially along the Jones Bridge Shoals. About 100 yards upstream from the unit parking lot are the historic remnants of the old metal Jones Bridge which was built in 1904 to replace the Jones Ferry river crossing. Just below Jones Bridge is a good place to walk across the river on the shoals when the water is not too high.
The Geosphere Environmental Education Training Center, managed by the nonprofit organization Friends of Geosphere (FOG), is located on the southern edge of the unit. Here classes and workshops are offered to teachers, scout leaders and other adult educators. The center is not open to the general public except during special events.
Facilities: Concrete ramp for trailers and motorboats, railroad tie steps launch for canoes and rafts; picnic area with grills; large open grassy recreation area; hiking trail; wheelchair accessible viewing deck; restrooms; 2 parking areas.
Fees: Parking, $2.
Directions: From GA 400 north, exit east on Holcomb Bridge Road. Go about 4 miles to Barnwell Road and turn left. Go a couple of miles. Entrance to park will be on right side of Barnwell Road.
Holcomb Bridge Unit
This unit is an oasis of open fields, forested areas and steeply rising bluffs in the midst of one of Atlanta's fastest growing urban areas. Still undeveloped as a park recreational facility, it contains 30 acres.
Directions: From GA 400 north, exit east on Holcomb Bridge Road. Follow Holcomb Bridge Road.
Island Ford Unit
The National Park Service manages the 16 individual units of the CRNRA along 48 miles of river. Park headquarters for the CRNRA is located just off Roberts Road on the river's south side in the Island Ford Unit. At the park information building there is interpretive information about the recreation area as well as maps depicting the hiking trails, facilities, general information and rules for the developed park units. There is also a bookstore and office for the Chattahoochee Outdoor Center in the headquarters complex. The headquarters staff will mail out information about the parks upon request.
The Island Ford Unit consists of 297 wooded acres, including the island known as Copeland Island. Some of the best fly and live bait fishing can be done from the shoals along this beautiful section of the river. A fisherman can put in here, fish down a mile or so and walk back to his car with a catch of five or six trout. Island Ford has natural habitats that support muskrat, beaver, fox and raccoon. Huge rock outcroppings along the river were once used by prehistoric man for shelter as well as later Indians who camped here while on hunting parties. The log building located on the property was the summer home for the family of Sam Hewlett, a former Georgia Superior Court Judge. It was constructed in the 1930s, using timber from the Okefenokee Swamp and stone from Stone Mountain.
Facilities: Headquarters Building for the CRNRA, bookstore, boat ramp (visitors must carry boats to and from ramp), hiking trail, Fallen Branch Shelter, Sam Hewlett Field with picnic tables and grills, wooden deck for river viewing restrooms, telephone, 3 parking areas.
Fees: Parking, $2
Headquarters -- Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m. - 4:30 p. m. Closed major holidays
Chattahoochee Outdoor Center -- Hours vary and is not always open if the weather is bad. Call beforevisiting.
Directions: From GA 400 north, exit west on Northridge, going toward Roswell Road. Go to Roberts Drive and turn right Entrance to park is well-marked with signs.
1917 Island Ford Parkway
Atlanta, GA 30350
770/399-8070 or 770/952-4419
Chattahoochee Outdoor Center
1990 Island Ford Parkway
Atlanta, GA 30350
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Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication