|From Chattahoochee Bend|
It’s been 20 years since the State of Georgia has opened a new state park. Not that I’m complaining, they do an excellent job with the parks they run, but when a new park opens after that many years it’s kind of a big thing. The Georgia State Parks department is planning two new parks in the near future, and the good news is that they are both relatively close to Atlanta. The first to open just this month is called Chattahoochee Bend State Park, located about an hour and twenty minutes outside of Atlanta on the Western edge of Newnan in Coweta County.
Now, I live in Gwinnett County, so it’s a little further for me, but I bet that most of you have friends or reasons to be out that way. I have a good friend who lives in Peachtree City and I used the opening of the new state park as good excuse to spend the day with him and his 12 year old son.
Everything there is brand new. The visitor center is pristine, with a half dozen rocking chairs on the porch. The bathrooms are new. The Gift Shop is new. I’m sure the campsites are new too. But what is most interesting to me is that the trails are new. According to the map you can get at the visitor center, there are two hiking trails: One from the visitor center to the campground and the other, which seemed more interesting to us, the one along the Chattahoochee River itself.
To reach that trailhead, continue driving on the park road till it pretty much dead ends. There is a good size parking lot near the boat launch area. The trailhead is to the right of the launch about 150 feet. There were a good number of people using the area not just to get their boats into the water, but to cool off from the hot Georgia Summer. By the looks of things, the water is pretty shallow and calm there.
The trail is a pretty flat walk that goes all the way to the bend that gives the park its name. To be honest, I have to sort of trust them as we didn’t have the time to get there. According to the Friend of the Bend site there’s five miles of trail (and then you’d have to trek back, I don’t know if you can subtract the campground trail). We went up no more than three miles before turning around, but I believe you get the flavor of the trail in that time. The one thing that is notable about this trail is that the river is a little further away from the shore than I might like. And because it’s so new, the small side paths down to the water don’t exist as of yet. But we had fun fighting our way down to the shore in a couple of places. Who knows, somewhere down the line, our trails might become the trails. Along the path, there’s a nice, newly built lookout platform (that probably works better in the winter months), and a part where there’s an internal clearing on the non-river side where we saw a few deer run through.
So if you’re in the Newnan area, or are looking for an easy boat launch, or just want to see the new place, head on down to Chattahoochee Bend State Park. For me, it was a very nice day in nature with a good friend. His son really liked the place (lots of bugs and branches to play on), so I’d give it a better rating for kids. The only drawback was the July Heat, which I can’t fault the park for (The trail is mostly covered and there was a noticeable decrease in temperature on the trail itself).
Approximate Time: 3-3.5 hours
Approximate Distance: 10 miles round trip
Trail Surface: Compact Soil, Sand
Features: Riverside Walk
Overall Rating: B
Scenic Quality: C+
Parking: State Park Fees ($5)
Hours of Operation: 7am-10pm
Facilities: at Visitor Center
Maps: At Vistor Center, white blazed
General Maps: here or here