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Hiking the Cochran Shoals Trail | Georgia Hikes

The Cochran Shoals Trail is an easy hike along the western bank of the Chattahoochee River. This busy trail just north of I-285 is a popular trail for runners, bikers, and dog walkers. 

When we want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life in Atlanta, we go for a hike along the Chattahoochee River. The Cochran Shoals Trail is the perfect escape for a weekday run, bike ride, or walk after work, or an easy way to get some fresh air on the weekend.

Kevin and I love hiking this gravel 3-mile trail along the banks of the Chattahoochee. Here’s what you need to know about hiking the Cochran Shoals Trail.

Chattahoochee River Cochran Shoals Trail

Cochran Shoals Trail Hike

We’ll call it a hike, but it’s really more of a walk.

The Cochran Shoals Trail is a wide gravel trail that’s like a greenway compared to other hikes in Atlanta.

Located just north of I-285, the trail follows along the western bank of the Chattahoochee River and is part of the network of trails that make up the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.

There are parking lots on both ends of the trail, the Interstate North trailhead and the Columns Drive trailhead, depending on which end of the trail you want to start on. Both Cochran Shoals Trail parking lots have a parking fee of $5 or an annual park pass. There are restrooms at both trailheads.

Cochran Shoals Trail Hike

Hiking the Cochran Shoals Trail

We like to start at the Interstate North trailhead. From here, the wide gravel trail follows north up the river, giving views of the rocky rapids and ducks swimming in the shallow waters.

You can access the river from pretty much any point on the trail, making it a good place to shoot the ‘Hooch if you don’t mind all the rocks, or you can look out from a few observation docks jutting out into the river.

In the fall and winter, you can see through the trees to admire the beautiful mansions on the river.

Since the trail is flat and wide, it’s very popular with runners, bikers, and people walking their dogs. There’s plenty of room to maneuver around other hikers on the trail, unless you run into a muddy patch after a big rain.

The trail reaches the Columns Drive parking lot at 1.6 miles. From here, you can turn around and retrace your steps if you want to continue your hike along the river (this is what we like to do).

Or you can continue the loop trail by turning left and continuing up a slight hill. At about 1.75 miles, there’s a connector trail that leads to Sope Creek Trail, another great hiking trail in the area.

Continuing on along the Cochran Shoals Trail, you’ll cross a wide grassland and then a boardwalk over a tributary creek at 2 miles. The trail here can be muddy and rocky, especially after a rain.

Cochran Shoals Trail

Once off the boardwalk, the trail meets up with the main path at the banks of the Chattahoochee River. Turn to the right to follow the Cochran Shoals Trail back to the Interstate North parking lot.

The hike completes at 3.1 miles, making for an easy afternoon stroll!

Hiking Essentials

Come prepared for your hike by making sure you pack the essentials. Check out this must-have hiking gear before you set off on the trails:

Cochran Shoals Trail Info

Hike length: About 3.1 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Is it pet-friendly?: Yes, leashed dogs are allowed on this trail.

Location: 1956-2068 Eugene Gunby Rd, Marietta, GA 30067 (Interstate North) or 152 Columns Dr, Marietta, GA 30067 (Columns Drive)

Parking: Parking is available at the Cochran Shoals Interstate North Parkway parking lot and at the Cochran Shoals Columns Drive parking lot. $5 fee.

Fees: $5 parking fee per vehicle.

Hours: The trail is open from sunrise to sunset.

Accessibility: The Cochran Shoals Trail is an unpaved gravel trail that is mostly flat. The trail can be muddy after a rain.

Nearby Hiking Trails

Looking for more hiking trails in Atlanta? Check out more of these amazing Georgia hikes:

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Georgia Hikes: Cochran Shoals Trail

Have you hiked the Cochran Shoals Trail at the Chattahoochee River? Let me know in the comments below!

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