There’s good news afoot for Atlantans who’d like to slip into the Chattahoochee River—or trek beside it—in their own backyards.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens led a groundbreaking ceremony Nov. 2 alongside Trust for Public Land officials and other dignitaries for what’s being called—believe it not—the City of Atlanta’s first public access point to the Chattahoochee River. (Prior to years of award-winning cleanup efforts, after all, the river was considered a health hazard.)

The ceremony took place at Standing Peachtree Greenspace, where upcoming construction projects will add a kayak launch, an accessible path to the river, woodland restoration, and upgrades to the site’s access road.

The greenspace is located where Buckhead, North Atlanta, and so-called Upper Westside converge on Ridgewood Road, just west of Interstate 75 and north of the Moores Mill Road mixed-use development anchored by Publix.  

That gateway to the river will mark the northernmost point of the Chattahoochee Camp+Paddle Trail, a 48-mile pathway that will snake beside the river from North Atlanta down to McIntosh Reserve in Carroll County. Its purpose is to allow visitors to journey three days and four nights for a nature-escape itinerary unlike any other so close to the city.

The route is expected to be ready for patronage sometime next year, officials say.

Scope of the five sites considered destinations along the Camp+Paddle Trail between North Atlanta (top) and Carroll County. Courtesy of TPL

As extensive as it may seem, the Camp+Paddle Trail will be just one section of the planned Chattahoochee RiverLands, a vast outdoor recreation destination that will span across 100 miles of parks, stretching from Buford Dam to Chattahoochee Bend State Park.

At Thursday’s groundbreaking in North Atlanta, Dickens said the Standing Peachtree access point will help deliver on a promise made during his first State of the City address to open the river to the general public.

“With this acquisition, we’re providing the vibrant parkland that Atlanta deserves,” said Dickens in a prepared statement. “We’ve come a long way from a river that used to be a public health threat to recognizing the Chattahoochee River as a special gift that has been given to us.”

Added George Dusenbury, TPL’s Georgia state director: “This [groundbreaking] marks a huge step forward in the city’s commitment to providing connectivity to one of the region’s most popular and significant natural spaces.”

Eventually, the Chattahoochee RiverLands project is expected to link about 1 million nearby residents and visitors to activities such as swimming, bicycling, kayaking, picnicking, walking, and camping along the river. 


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