It feels like a butt-kicking Smoky Mountains hike—that’s one of the things I love most about the East Palisades Trail in Sandy Springs.
I never would have known the trail existed if it hadn’t been for my friend Alex. (He’s a veteran obstacle course racer who is always looking for spots near Buckhead to train outdoors.)
There are two entrances to the trail area, but I recommend the one off Indian Trail. The entrance road is unpaved, so keep that in mind when selecting a vehicle, and there’s plenty of parking at the trailhead. Since it’s a National Park Service trail, you’ll need to pay a $3 entrance fee, then you have two trailhead options. To get the most bang for your hiking buck, select the one closest to the entrance on Indian Trail vs. the trailhead in the parking area.
I’m a fan of this trail for multiple reasons. First off, the hilly terrain provides a challenging hike or trail run. Then, if it’s one of those lingering summer-temperature types of days, the river is a wonderful spot to cool off or fish. But an even more important draw is what you see and experience along the way. There’s a million-dollar view of the Chattahoochee from an overlook fairly early in the trail. Once you wind your way down to the river, there are ruins of an old mill. Hike a little farther and you’ll come across the bamboo forest I mentioned in this feature’s introduction. It’s one of the easiest ways to be transported out of Atlanta without ever leaving town.
East Palisades Trail
1425 Indian Trail N.W.
Sandy Springs 30327
WORD OF ADVICE:
Take a look at the map of the trail (available here) before you go. Once you’re out there, the twists and turns can be a bit confusing.
After working up an appetite on the trail, satisfy your hunger at Heirloom Market BBQ with a little spicy Korean pork and Brunswick stew. (Closed Sunday and Monday.)
2243 Akers Mill Road
PHOTO: SCOTT REEVES