Below Bustling I-75, Popular Palisades Parks Await Scenic Restoration

DeanLand

As a never-ending multitude of vehicles daily speed across the dual concrete bridges of Interstate 75, an oasis of natural beauty, wildlife and recreation goes largely unnoticed by busy commuters and travelers. But along the banks of the Chattahoochee River below, thousands of visitors monthly connect with nature in the East and West Palisades units of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.

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Thousands of visitors monthly enjoy riverside paths at the East and West Palisades of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.Photo: DeanLand / OurTravelCafe.com

Spanning both the Chattahoochee River and the boundary of Cobb and Fulton counties, Palisades features canoe landings, trails that meander along the river and surrounding hills, giant granite outcrops, and scenic overlooks rising nearly 200 feet above the river below. Accustomed to Delta and Southwest jets flying overhead or a roar from the nearby Braves stadium, visitors here are more interested in spotting the native birds singing in the trees above, ducks and geese floating noisily in the river and elusive foxes which scamper near their dens in the rock outcrops.

Now, the National Park Service (NPS) is hoping to improve this natural get-away by enhancing visitor access to the riverside trails, restoring over-trekked areas to their natural state, and making the popular “Bamboo Forest” a quiet zone.

These plans for the Palisades unit and more are included in the Comprehensive Trails Management Plan / Environmental Assessment published by the NPS. After gathering community, user and other input in 2021, the NPS released earlier this year the detailed 278-page proposal for the Chattahoochee unit. It’s all part of a long-term, $9.6 million comprehensive improvement plan developed by the NPS, the first proposed since the recreation area’s founding in 1978. NPS is inviting written public comments on the plan through April 30.

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Accustomed to Delta and Southwest jets flying overhead, visitors to Palisades prefer the natural noise of quacking ducks.Photo: DeanLand / OurTravelCafe.com

More than 3.3 million people annually visit the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area. According to NPS statistics, that makes Chattahoochee the 23rth most-visited national park service area in the country, attracting approximately the same number of visitors as the iconic Yosemite National Park.

Created on August 15, 1978, in legislation signed by President Jimmy Carter, the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area includes the following 14 parks and 19 locations listed in the NPS improvement proposal:

  • Bowmans Island – West
  • Bowmans Island – East and Orrs Ferry
  • Settles Bridge
  • McGinnis Ferry
  • Suwanee Creek
  • Abbotts Bridge
  • Medlock Bridge
  • Jones Bridge – North
  • Jones Bridge – South (Chattahoochee River Environmental Education Center)
  • Holcomb Bridge
  • Island Ford
  • Vickery Creek
  • Gold Branch
  • Johnson Ferry – North
  • Johnson Ferry – South
  • Cochran Shoals – Sope and Gunby Creeks, Interstate North
  • Cochran Shoals – Powers Island
  • Palisades – East
  • Palisades – West

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Within eyesight of Interstate 75 and city buildings, scenic overlooks at Palisades perch nearly 200 feet above the river.Photo: DeanLand / OurTravelCafe.com

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I'm a trained journalist and retired global marketing executive. Living in Northwest Georgia, I write about about avocations including outdoors, travel, exploration, history and some of my community passions. I've traveled to 47 states and nearly as many countries. My South Louisiana-born French Cajun upbringing in food-rich Louisiana plus my extended restaurant-related career affirmed my status as an over-qualified eater. At my blog, OurTravelCafe.com, I offer a complete menu of our my own experiences, explorations and adventures, organized by geography and always sprinkled with some spicy, tasty tidbits and food notes.

Acworth, GA
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