Columns Drive-Map Interstate Parkway-Map
|From Cochran Shoals|
Now it would be rare for me to say anything negative about a place, or to do anything to discourage anyone from getting off the couch and getting out of the house, so I am going to try to avoid it. But because of high gas prices at its proximity, and someone asking me the question about hiking in the city, I thought I would discuss this particular location.
Probably the most popular stretch of the Chattahoochee River National Wildlife Reserve is the Cochran Shoals unit and I simply don’t quite understand its draw. Admittedly, I am a little lacking in my knowledge of nature to be impressed by a rare bird or a rare plant or a rare butterfly, but I think I know something beautiful when I see it. It also has some history to it, with no lasting remnants, being the approximate place Federal Troops crossed the Hooch during the March on Atlanta (a couple of historical markers are present)
Now Cochran Shoals is a pretty place with some nice views of the Chattahoochee, and a portion of it runs through some wetlands that offer plant life that, even if I didn’t know what it was, was intriguing. And It was pretty clear to me that it would be a nice place for a bike trip being relatively flat with paths that are considerably wider than most allowing to pass fellow travelers comfortably. And its very, very near the city with the Interstate Entrance being less than a half mile off 285, and the Columns drive entrance not too much further.
As best as I can tell the reasons to go there are these:
1. It is very close to Atlanta.
2. Due to the simplicity it is a very easy place to get started in outdoor exercise, no matter what your age or physical condition.
3. Because of the number of people on the trail, it would seem safer than other places, even for groups as small as one. Or you prefer people watching.
4. The Chattahoochee River is majestic and beautiful.
5. You prefer biking to hiking
6. You’re a nature lover and there’s something here I’ve overlooked.
But what I don’t get is why, especially if you parked at the Columns Drive, why you wouldn’t turn right a head up to Sope Creek (you could do both but you would be looking at about 10 mi round trip). A much more adventurous hike with changes in inclination and some interesting things to see. The second part to the why is given all the options we have in and outside of Atlanta, this place is so darn popular. The last time I went it was 2 pm on a Wednesday and the parking lot was 80% full. There must have been 50 or 60 people on the path. One thing I look for in my hikes is solitude, which could only be found on the less frequently taken nature paths away from the river.
I’m not saying don’t go there. By all means get out and do something. And if this is your flavor of choice, more power to you. But maybe you could help me understand what makes this one so special.
Approximate Time: 1.5-2 hours
Approximate Distance: basic loop 2 mi, and 3-4 miles of side trails
Trail Surface: Compact Soil, Gravel
Features: Wildlife, River Views, Nature Trails
Scenic Quality: B
Value: B- (primarily due to proximity)
Parking: $3 dollars
Hours of Operation:
Facilities: Portables at both parking areas
Maps: here From Columns Drive , From Insterstate Parkway