River/Creek · Views
This would be a great trail for someone getting started with trail running or anyone wanting an easier run. The terrain is almost entirely flat and obstacle-free (with the usual natural exceptions since it's still not paved).
Park at the lot where Columns Drive dead-ends onto Jonson Ferry (there is a sign). There is a machine up front that actually takes cards as well as cash, unlike most of the other Chattahoochee NRA trails, and you can purchase both annual passes or day passes. However, it is highly recommended to carry $3 (daily) or $35 (for annual) exact change, just in case.
Start at JN 2 at the end of the parking lot and take either of the short parallel trails to JN 3. Take a left here. The trail starts out on a wooden boardwalk over a small creek and the forest floor. After that, it bends right and stays flat along the forest floor with an elevation ridge to the left. On the right is more forest with one small section of wetlands about halfway to the top of the loop.
This continues for about half a mile or so before arriving at JN 4. Take a left here and continue on the trail past JN 5 and you'll soon find the hidden gem of this trail: a giant rock formation hanging over a small stream which has apparently carved it out over the years. It's almost cave-like where the rock overhangs the creek on the opposite side from where you approach it. There are plenty of large boulders on the near side to sit on and rest as you take in the view.
Head back to JN 5 and stay to the left through JN 6 and 7 and take a right to continue your clockwise loop. The last part stays mostly along the high riverbank of the Chattahoochee, departing inward at JN 8 and 9 where Owl Branch and Arrowhead Branch Creeks meet the river proper. These 2 spots will meet up with a middle trail that cuts down the center of the main loop. Stay on the outer loop that goes back to the river each time for a much more scenic outing back to JN 2 and the parking lot.
Shared By: Heather Pruner