“A quiet, shady little trail along the river, ending on an island. Bring a picnic and/or your boat!”
— Heather Pruner
Picnic and restroom areas and very easy and accessible trails make this great for kids. The area also has a rafting launch available for families who want to spend time on the river.
A very accessible, shady trail along the river. It is generally less trafficked than the neighboring Cochran Shoals trails, and one has the option of staying on the completely wide and flat sections or taking the ridge loop for a bit more heart rate raising elevation. This is also a tubing and paddling launch site, so consider this for your next paddle trip as well!
Need to Know
As with all Chattahoochee NRA trails, bring your $3 cash or your annual parking pass for $35 (can be obtained at the Island Ford visitor center).
Wear long pants on this trail, especially if you are sensitive to plants like poison ivy. Much of the trail is very narrow through ground-covering plants which will brush your legs as you hike though.
Start from the far side of the parking lot away from the visitor center at PI 5. The first quarter mile is a nice wide flat trail through shady deciduous woods with a thick blanket of ivy and vine on the forest floor.
Take a right at PI 6 to begin a counterclockwise loop. The trail here shrinks to singletrack and starts to climb a steady grade as it becomes more rooted and rough than the beginning. After the next quarter of a mile (as of 6/8/16) there is a partially fallen tree across the trail which is easily navigated around to the left and then a log across the trail immediately after, which is easy to step over. This is located in the northeast corner of the loop. At the apex of the loop, a building complex can be seen if you look to the right through the trees, but it is easy to ignore...
Aside from one spot where the trail sweeps down and back up again quickly, the loop makes a fairly steady and gentle grade up to the apex and then back down as it meets up once again with the wide trail which then follows the river.
At just under a mile, this brings you to PI 7. Turn right here and almost immediately come to PI 8. By the time you reach PI 8, you'll be able to see the river through the trees. Continue straight up to PI 9 with the river on your left, somewhat visible through the screen of trees. Enjoy the shade, the easy flat trail, and the gentle gurgle of the river over the shoals. At about one mile total, you'll arrive at PI 9, which dead-ends (a sign just past PI 9 says "private property"). Just before PI 9 on the right are the ivy-blanketed remains of a stone retaining wall.
On the way back, enjoy some closer views of the river via a few small side trails to the right as you head back down the way you came to PI 8.
Take the fork to the right here and begin a section of trail which follows right next to the riverbank, crossing several small wooden footbridges. This section is scenic, but very narrow and also a bit overgrown on either side with plants (so bare legs are not recommended here). It is worth the views of this quiet section of the river which runs between the main shore and Powers Island (plus another smaller island just to the north). The last part of this section will open up again providing a more pleasant experience before ending at the northwestern corner of the parking lot at PI 4, bringing the total distance to just over 1.5 miles so far.
Take a right across the parking lot towards the visitor center and, looking right, you'll find PI 1, which crosses a bridge to Powers Island itself. While on the bridge, I 285 can be seen to the left, but the view to the right is of a calm, picturesque section of the river with trees from either side gracefully arching over it to provide almost complete shade. One will often see tubers or paddlers on this stretch, as there are boat launches on both sides of the island and is a popular launch spot for "Shoot the Hooch" tubing tours.
PI 2 is on the other side of the bridge and the trail continues straight, flat, and wide across the island to the boat ramp area on the other side. If you take a picnic, you can enjoy it either from the bench there by the river or the stairs going down to the boat ramp to take in the river for a bit. To end, simply retrace your steps back to the visitor center. This section of the trail is about 0.14 miles out and back. There are also several picnic tables on the lawn of the visitor center, although it lacks a direct view of the water.