Doggin’ Atlanta: Hike With Your Dog In The Big Peach

Grant Park, bounded by Atlanta Avenue, Sidney Street, Cherokee Street and the Boulevard, is named for Colonel Lemuel P. Grant, a civil engineer for the Georgia Railroad who helped bring the railroad to Atlanta and earned the name “Father of Atlanta.”

Grant Park is near the site of the battle for Atlanta in the Civil War and defensive breastworks, constructed under the supervision of L.P. Grant, can still be seen in the 144-acre recreation area. The land for Grant Park was at one time part of Colonel Grant’s extensive land holdings in young Atlanta. Dogs are welcome on the scenic trails although they are not permitted around the two prime attractions of the park: Zoo Atlanta or the Atlanta Cyclorama, the 360-degree painting of the Battle of Atlanta.

Nearby to enjoy with your dog is Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area less than one hour north of Atlanta.

Most rivers meander and change course over time but the Chattahoochee River is locked in place by the 320-mile Brevard Fault that divides the Appalachian Mountains and the Piedmont Plateau. As such, it is one of the oldest rivers in America.

President Jimmy Carter created the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in his home state to protect 48 miles of the slow-moving waters south of Lake Lanier. Today the 4,100-acre dog-friendly preserve – Chattahoochee means place of flowered rocks – is one of the most popular destinations in the national park system, attracting more than three million visitors each year.

Two visitor centers, Paces Mill at the southern access and Island Ford near the center, service the Chattahoochee River NRA’s 14 land units and more than 50 miles of trails. Much of the canine hiking on these day-use trails is easy, through meadows and wooded gorges along the river. Expect a cool swim for your dog when she plunges in – the water temperature rarely warms to more than 50 degrees.

The stability of the Chattahoochee River has enabled much of the history of inhabitation on its banks to remain in place. Keep an eye out for archaeological remants of the Indian tribes that lived here for hundreds of years. Among the 19th century structures that can be seen are the ruins of antebellum textile mills.

One of the premier places to hike with your dog is the Jones Bridge Trail, a 2.6-mile jaunt that hugs the Chattahoochee for most of its length before ascending a small ridge.

To reach the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area and Paces Mill travel on US 41, north of I-75. Admission to the recreation area is free but there is a nominal parking fee.

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