5 Notes On Visiting Chattahoochee Bend State Park

5 Notes On Visiting Chattahoochee Bend State Park 1

Chattahoochee Bend State Park is one of Georgia’s newest State Parks…and in 20 years or so, it will be one of the best. It’s about 50 minutes from Atlanta, so it’s become a surprise “go-to” Park for me. Here are a few notes from visiting multiple times over the past few years.

Chattahoochee bend Is a Young Park

5 Notes On Visiting Chattahoochee Bend State Park 2

Chattahoochee Bend opened in 2011 to very tight budgets. It was a tract that Georgia purchased from a timber company. Almost all the land had been clear cut before the purchase (a very common model, that we all benefit from…but is also a bit “Come On, Man!” in 2024). Because of that, all the land is very young pine forest. It’s brambly, spindly, and messy throughout the whole park (except for a beautiful hardwood section near the entrance).

In about 20 years, the Park will be absolutely stunning since the Park is applying regular prescribed burns, thinning, and quota hunts to accelerate & manage the forest succession. But right now, it’s still young.

And the infrastructure is young. Since it was opened in an era of budget cuts, a lot of the amenities are still new or brand new. They are finishing the cottages right now in 2024. The tent campground is only a few years old. The mountain bike trails are only 4 years old…and the hiking trails are being continually expanded.

Everything is new and built well – but it’s also not “settled in” to the landscape like older CCC parks (Vogel, Fort Mountain, FDR, etc). The road cuts still look manmade. You can still see the lot clearing lines at the cabins. And the cabin construction is making all the insect life generally freak out and go everywhere.

The Park is Huge

Georgia was very smart to acquire this land – and as taxpayers, we got a deal. The sheer acreage means that the Park will forever be one of the wilder, quieter, more remote Parks – and it will always be just 50 minutes from Atlanta! The Park protects a long section of the Chattahoochee, and abuts county land for most of the section on the other side.

You can hike a surprisingly long distance in the Park without doubling back and without having to drive to North Georgia. It’s great!

Everything Is Best Practices

Park managers really started studying recreation management in the ’60s and ’70s. And over time, they’ve built out best practices for all types of recreation. Now, much of our public land was built out in the 1930s and 1940s when tents, boots, and fishing were the main forms of recreation. Retrofitting that land has led to unfortunate conflicts (when the real conflict should be with oil & gas companies and private developers). So! It’s exciting when a huge tract of public land can be outfitted with best practices for everyone.

  • Mountain bikers get their erosion-proof, dedicated trails.
  • Tent campers get their privacy and quiet.
  • RVs get their hookups and wide pull-throughs.
  • Hikers get their long trails.
  • Backpackers get their solitude.
  • Boaters get their ramps and put-ins.
  • Anglers get their piers.
  • Kids get their playgrounds.
  • People with disabilities get accessible opportunities.

And on, and on. It’s everything a State Park should be. And Georgia State Parks keeps adding to it all.

It’s Not As Much Of A Water Park

5 Notes On Visiting Chattahoochee Bend State Park 3

To be on the Chattahoochee River, the Park does not have as much water-based recreation as I would have expected.

The river is big enough that there’s no swimming. Boating is fine, but requires some skill and decent equipment (and certainly no unsupervised kids). There’s some fishing, but the banks are pretty steep, so bank fishing is mostly out. And the nearest road put in is miles up river, so while boat trips are perfect…you have to commit to an actual trip.

It Gets Better With More Visits

I have to say that I felt a little let down on my visit. But it’s so convenient to Atlanta, that we’ve kept going back. And there’s just more and more about the Park that feels better and better with every visit. It’s now one of my favorite State Parks – and I think in 20 when the forests mature and the roads settle-in and all the amenities are built out, it’ll be one of Georgia’s best.

Also, I’m too far away to volunteer, but they have an amazing Friends group who spend a lot of time and money maintaining the Park along with the staff and Manager.

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