Gold Branch Trail System Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, GA
DURATION 1-2 hours
Gold Branch Trail System

Another example of a great trail without the drive, Gold Branch sits along the Chattahoochee River between Sandy Spring and Roswell in North Atlanta. Part of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Gold Branch Trail System has a range of options surrounded by a 3.3 mile loop.

The parking lot is off of Lower Roswell road and, like all the CRNRA parks, there is a $3 parking fee or you can purchase a $35 annual pass at the Island Ford HQ and Visitor Center. The trail begins at the end of the parking lot and quickly descends 50 feet in the first tenth of a mile to a short boardwalk crossing Gold branch which feeds into the river. Here, the trail splits. This description will travel the outside loop in a clockwise direction.

Turning left, the trail heads directly towards the water, denoted by the blue blazes along the way. These do not continue through the entire trail system. At a quarter-mile, the trail crosses a couple footbridges, the second at a junction with one of the inside trails. For the remainder of the hike, stay to the outside (left) except where noted to form the largest loop without retracing any part of the trail.

The trail opens up to Bull Sluice Lake, created by the Morgan Falls dam just south of the park. The trail then drops directly along the water’s edge. Here, the trail becomes a little more difficult, narrowing and navigating more rocks and roots than before. It is also here that you will make the only turn away from the river. The trail used to continue directly along the water; however, it is no longer part of the official trails and thus, is not maintained and very difficult. When coming to a junction without a posted trail map that heads steeply away from the river, take it up the hill, continuing to do so at another junction. A large tree trunk has been positioned to deter hikers from this path. View the photos for more information.

Continuing along the river and past several other marked junctions, the trail navigates over several footbridges as it pulls away and drops backs down to the river. One section includes a short steep hill that climbs over large exposed tree roots. A rope has been fixed to the top to help climb the section. As the trail turns back to the trailhead, it climbs 150 feet over a half mile, levels out, and then descends again to the boardwalk and the first junction. Climb the short hill back to the trailhead and parking lot. For continued enjoyment and variety, mix and match the park’s other trails for several different loops.

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Elevation Map Length (miles) by Elevation (feet)
Terrain Map Click to control map
length3.3 miles
difficulty3.7 Easy
duration1 - 2 hours
trail typeTrail System
elevation gain390 ft.
state Georgia 
park/forestChattahoochee River National Recreation Area
visitor infoIsland Ford Visitor Center
1978 Island Ford Parkway
Sandy Springs, GA 30350
hoursSunrise - Sunset (parks)
9am - 5pm (Visitor Center)
parking fee$5/Day, $40 Annual Pass
trailhead coordinates 33.984355, -84.385246 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 33°59.06, W 84°23.11 (Degree Minutes, MinDec)
N 33°59'04'', N 33°59'04'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)
Trailhead Directions
33.984355, -84.385246 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 33°59.06, W 84°23.11 most GPS units use this one
N 33°59'04'', N 33°59'04'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)
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All official CRNRA maps can be found at
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4 (1)
hikethesouth-6 years ago
Way Down Yonder on the Chattahoochee
Another Chattahoochee park trail system. Choose your own adventure here but the outside loop makes for a really great local north Atlanta hike.
Easy | Hiked Spring 2012
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