“Views of the Chattahoochee right after it emerges form the Buford Dam and is still blue/green!
— Heather Pruner
River/Creek · Views
This run features just the right amount of elevation, ridges, and views of the river from under shady forest. Pack a snack or light lunch and stop at one of a couple of nice places to view the river from above. The trail rolls along next to the Chattahoochee River just after she emerges from the Buford Dam, so the water here is still a pretty green/blue color.
The trails are all well maintained, making this gently rolling great for runners.
Park at the north lot. To get there, take Buford Dam Road to Little Mill Rd and follow Little Mill until you get to the pay station. Continue on until you see a small parking area on the right. If you get to the end with the larger parking lot, boat ramp, and restrooms, you have just passed it. You may want to stop here anyway if you want a bathroom break before you start, as there isn’t one at the trailhead lot.
At the parking area, you'll see a sign on one end for Bowman’s Island and a small foot bridge crossing over Haw Creek.
After crossing the bridge, you'll soon find BI 1 and continue straight (no intersection here). On your way to BI 2, there will be a couple of side trails visible on the left and one more when you reach BI 2. Stay straight/to the right past BI 2, as these trails are simply side loops to access closer to the river, but are somewhat overgrown and not really worth the limited glimpse of the water. There will be more chances for river vistas further south on the trail connecting the 2 loop sections.
Take a right at BI 3, heading north, and arrive at BI 4 soon after. When standing in front of BI 4’s signpost, there will be what appears to be a trail on the left, with a large dead tree fallen across a small creek. According to the map, there is a loop to the right which skips B1 5 and connects back with BI 6. This alternate trail, however, does not appear to exist anymore, so head straight past BI 4 to BI 5.
Take a left at BI 5. After a few minutes, you'll arrive at BI 11. On this section of the loop, you'll catch glimpses of houses and backyards, realizing that the trail runs up against a neighborhood. This doesn’t last too long, however. Simply avoid taking the spur trails to BI 13 and BI 15. At BI 11, take a right BI 12, stay left at BI 12, and head to BI 14. Stay straight here and loop back around to BI 11, moving away from the houses and plunging back into the woods for a bit.
Back at BI 11, take a right and retrace the trail to BI 5, this time taking a left towards BI 6. Continue through BI 7 and BI 9, skipping the spur trails to BI 8 and BI 10, as these also dead end in backyards/neighborhoods. Continue this clockwise loop all the way back to BI 2. As you head south here, the trail takes you along the top of an elevated ridge which drops off to the left (east) and, while the river isn’t clearly visible, one can see open sky though the trees and you may be able to hear the trickling water over the shoals from here.
When you arrive at BI 2, continue as before to BI 3, then take the left this time at BI 3. This is the long connector trail to the southern loop of at least a mile, which runs mostly parallel to the river. You won’t be able to actually see the river much until the last third of this stretch, but once you can (see the river), there are a couple of nice spots to stop and rest, one with a rocking bench and another with 2 plastic patio chairs chained to a tree. Both of these spots overlook the river from an elevation ridge, still under the shade of the trees. Eventually, you'll arrive at BI 20. Take a right here and begin a counterclockwise loop. At BI 21, stay right until you reach BI 25. At this post, you'll see a large house and backyard to the right as you approach. From the signpost, continue on as the trail jogs left and south, switchbacking a bit to reach BI 24. If you go straight here, you would arrive at the south parking area, but there are no bathrooms or amenities.
Take a hard left at BI 24 and head straight through BI 23 to BI 22. Take the left fork here to cut back up to BI 21. (The section between BI 22 and BI 20 is a bit weedy and overgrown and also somewhat exposed.) At BI 21, take a right to head back to BI 20, then take the left to head back up the connector trail to BI 3. Go through BI 3 to BI 2 and stay straight at BI 2 to end at BI 1 and cross the bridge back to the parking area.
Flora & Fauna
You'll be able to see a variety of native trees, and you'll enjoy the lush underbrush near the water.