Kayaking and birdwatching and trout fishing all take place in Atlanta. This is hard to imagine, but easy to experience, thanks to the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area. Within easy reach, the Chattahoochee River offers Atlanta a break from its well-known vibe of enterprise.
Running for 48 miles along the River from Atlanta to Lake Sydney Lanier, the opportunities for a change of scene in Chattahoochee National Park are practically limitless. The Island Ford Visitor Center, a great place to start, is less than a half hour’s drive from the Ponce City Market and the sought-after townhomes of the Virginia Highland and Poncey-Highland neighborhood.
People find in the scenery, the wildlife, and the sounds of river and forest just the connection they need to recharge. This all-access pass to nature, protected by the National Park Service, strengthens the value of Atlanta real estate; the luxury condos that are not at all far away, despite the astounding transformation from city to wilderness.
How it Looks and Feels
Through most of its stretch, the Chattahoochee runs slowly, clear and cool. Now and then, it plunges quicker through rocks and shoals with an energy that once powered sawmills as Atlanta grew long ago. Wild plants and animals make their home here still, and the abundance and variety never cease to fascinate, especially in light of their nearness to the broad-shouldered city.
Who Lives There
Twenty varieties of fish live here, including trout and bass. Yes, trout. The Chattahoochee is the southernmost trout river in the U.S. Rabbits and white-tailed deer live alongside and, in the spring, you might likely see a spotted fawn. Osprey fly air support overhead, and at dusk you’ll hear the songs of the South tune up, from owls to bullfrogs.
Why It Lasts
The National Park Foundation, of course, does its duty, preserving, protecting, and – when needed – restoring the balance of nature here, so that Atlanta residents can rediscover their own balance, too. The Park Foundation’s HomeStretch Internship Program, for example, offers field trips and skills training for Atlanta students, to engage a broader awareness and support for the park, while sharing and developing useful skills among the young.
And for more than 20 years, the Chattahoochee Riverkeepers’ 7,000-plus members have helped protect the park with awareness, advocacy, and service from among residents and Atlanta business leaders. The Riverkeepers are yet another example of the private interest in public good that makes Atlanta what it is, a kind of powerhouse with a conscience and a sense of service.
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