“A great loop that incorporates the best northern Island Ford trails.
— Heather Pruner
This route offers another scenic glimpse of the Chattahoochee River, especially for those looking to supplement the southern section. Being short in length (just under 3 miles), easy to follow, almost completely under forest canopy, and with gentle elevation ridges and flat sections, this trail is very beginner-friendly!
Since this section is closer to the GA 400 highway, visitors will hear background road noise on most of the trail, especially on the western half of the north loop. Don't let this deter you from giving this section a chance, however, since the river overlooks are worth it!
Also, while a bit less scenic than the southern section, it gets less foot traffic, so you're more likely to have the trail to yourself for the majority of the route.
For the shorter stand-alone run (a little under 3 miles), start at IF 21. This is the signpost at the first parking lot on the left on the way in from Roberts Drive (not the main parking lot near the visitors center, which is further along at the end of the road).
From IF 21, head north to IF 30, where it crosses a service road and dives back into the forest. For about a mile into the woods, enjoy gentle rolling elevation ridges and switchbacks that work back down towards the river. As the trail approaches the loop beginning at IF 32, visitors are treated to a few glimpses of the river through the trees before turning west (left at IF 32) and then north (right at IF 31) for a clockwise loop of about a mile.
The section from the top of the loop back to IF 32 is the most scenic, taking visitors south along the river. There are a few spots near the north part of the loop to sit on a log and enjoy a quiet moment with the river under the forrest canopy. When the trail rejoins IF 32, take a left to continue south back towards the parking lot.
For a longer day run: One can combine this section with the Southern Loop for a longer, full-day outing. To do this, start at Hewlett Lodge and follow the trail to IF 17, take a left at IF 17, and continue northwest to IF 21. From there, continue with the directions above for this loop. When you get back to IF 21, follow it back down to IF 17 and all the way back to the Lodge. You can choose variations on the route back, but the most scenic routes will be the ones that stay closest to the river. For more details on the South Loop
, see the Island Ford South Loop