We made reservations at Chattahoochee Bend State Park several months in advance. Many of the ranger-led programs at the park sell out, and the hike and paddle is very popular, so we knew we need to plan ahead. So glad we did, this trip was a wonderful way to get out on a beautiful Saturday and enjoy nature.
Chattahoochee Bend State Park Secrets Revealed
We arrived early on a Saturday morning, driving the hour and 15 minutes from the house and pulled up to the visitors center about twenty minutes before the program began. Plenty of time to explore a little before heading out on our adventure.
Chattahoochee Bend State Park, Newnan Ga. is the second newest in the Georgia State Park family (Don Carter is the latest addition), and at 2,910 acres, Chattahoochee State Park is one of the largest state parks as well. The land was once owned by Georgia Power.
We started our adventure at the Visitor’s Center. My husband and I did not camp at Chattahoochee Bend, instead, we opted to drive down the morning of the program. I expected the park to be close to the highway exit (not sure why) but it’s about 25 minutes out into the country. It was actually nice to get off the fast-food lined streets and decompress a little on the way to the park.
The Hooch Hike and Paddle
The hooch hike and paddle is one of several programs offered at Chattahoochee Bend State Park, Newnan, Ga. Our small group consisted of a couple who had recently moved to the Newnan area and had enjoyed the hike and paddle so much in November, they returned in March to do it again.
Another gentleman was a recent transplant from Memphis. A young couple from Baxley, Ga. was vacationing with the in-laws. Her father-in-law went on the hike and paddle with us while grandma watched their two-year-old back at the campsite.
Two of my boys were supposed to come (kids must be at least 10 years old to participate in the hike and paddle) but they both had last minute obligations, so it was just my husband and I.
Joe, our guide, is a special ed school teacher during the week, but enjoys getting out into nature. He was a scout who never grew up, and a perfect guide through the forest, telling us about this young park and pointing out improvements the park system continues to make.
It was fun to get to know our little group out on the trail.
Chattahoochee State Park Hike and Paddle – Hike
The hike was 5.5 miles. It didn’t sound that long, but once we got out there, it was a bit farther than I originally anticipated. Most of the hike is flat, but there are a few hills to transverse.
There is an observation tower along the route, as well as some rock outcroppings, perfect for a rest and recharge.
Everyone in our group made it to the river without any problems. We took the Riverside Trail, but at one point the trail is closed to regular guests, so you need to have a ranger with you. You can get a look at the Chattahoochee trail map to see other Chattahoochee Bend hiking trails in the area. This review from Atlanta Trails. is of the Riverside Trail, but they also review other trails at the park.
Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks on the hike. We went in March and it wasn’t too hot, but in the summer, I imagine you’ll go through a lot more water. We stopped for a lunch we packed in with us at the end of the hike and before our paddle.
There is a bathroom at the end of the hike. It’s more like a deluxe port-a-pot, but the good news is I didn’t have to go in the woods, and after drinking tea all the way to the park, then guzzling water during the hike, even a deluxe port-a-pot with real tp was a welcome site.
If you are looking for hikes for your littles, check out our piece on Atlanta Hikes Under 2 Miles.
Chattahoochee State Park Hike and Paddle – Paddle
The rangers at Chattahoochee Bend State Park had our kayaks all ready for us at the river. You can bring your own, or rent a single or double kayak, as well as a canoe. We opted for a double kayak and I’m glad we did. It was nice to talk to each other on the river as we floated down.
The paddle was my husband’s favorite part. It was an easy trip, as the current was flowing with us. We did hit a small area of ‘rapids’ but it was more of a fast trickle vs. any real rapids.
At the end of the paddle, we were back at the day use parking lot where our cars were located and all we did was hop out of the kayaks. Joe and Erin, the ranger, handled everything else.
Other Programs at Chattahoochee Bend State Park
The Hooch hike and paddle is only one of several programs at the Chattahoochee Park. Here are a few more. Check the Chattahoochee Bend State park website for the latest events, and to register. The Park is popular and regularly events regularly sell out. But check back often.
Joe told us they often have cancellations the week before events. Someone cancelled the hike and paddle the night before our trip, which is a shame because it was too late to contact the wait list of people. That said, if you are willing to take a chance, you MIGHT be able to get in last minute if someone cancelled late. Here are some other popular events at Chattahoochee Bend State Park.
Chattahoochee Bend State Park Fishing. We saw a huge fish swim right under our kayak. Although we did not go fishing at the park, apparently there are good fishing spots.
Discovery Backpacks. There are four discovery backpacks available at the Visitors Center. A water study pack, weather, geocache, and nature. Check them out for free! Pair this with a Jr. Ranger booklet and you have lots of free fun at the park.
Geocache. You don’t have to check out a backpack to Geocache, just check out Geocaching.com for a list caches. Not sure how to start? We have you covered with this post on Geocaching for Beginners.
Jr. Ranger Booklet. Just like all the other Georgia State Parks, you can pick up a free Junior Ranger booklet at the Chattahoochee Bend State Park visitors center. This is a great way to engage kids in the outdoors.
Mountain Bike Trails. The Chattahoochee Bend Friends Group is building mountain bike trails at the park. Currently there are 3.2 miles of mountain bike trails with more to come.
Archery Classes. Learn safety as well as how to shoot a recurve or compound bow. All the equipment is provided, so all you have to do is show up.
Glow in the Dark Bowling. Our guide Joe was hosting glow-in-the-dark bowling the evening of our adventure. I would have loved to stay for that. He said they break glow sticks and put them in water bottles. Then use a kick ball to ‘bowl’ them down. Fun!
Guided Hikes. In addition to the hike and paddle, they also do full moon, and sensory hikes. There is a good chance you’ll have our guide Joe for those too.
Games for Camping. If you have a group of kids, ask about the Games for Camping program. Joe was telling us how he sets up lots of different games for the kids to play.
Seasonal Events. Check the website for the events during your stay. We were there just a few weeks before Easter and they were planning an Easter Egg hunt.
Butterfly Garden. At the Visitor’s Center is a butterfly garden, and when we went, they also had chrysalis’ on the counter, waiting for them to open. I picked up a fantastic brochure with all the caterpillars and butterflies you could find in the area.
ATV Park. During our hike, Joe mentioned that Chattahoochee Bend will be getting an ATV Park in the near future. It would be the first for a Georgia State Park. Here is more information from a Newnan-Times Herald article.
See Diamorpha in Bloom. Diamorpha are succulents found in the pools of rock outcrops like Chattahoochee Bend and Arabia Mountain. In spring they turn bright red, and then burst with a white bloom. Primarily found in Georgia, they are on the endangered species list in Tennessee. Lesli’s family just likes them for their sweetness; hope yours will, too.
Camping at Chattahoochee Bend State Park
Although we didn’t camp at the park, we did check out the back country camp site. It had a great platform, fire ring and pole for food. It was right on the river, and was actually where we put in for our paddling adventure. I also hear they have sites on anchored river rafts! I need to check that out.
Chattahoochee Bend also has RV and car camping sites. I was curious to see the Adirondack-style shelters. The main campsites had awesome playgrounds near them, bathrooms and hot showers. Joe told us cabins are coming soon!
Visit Chattahoochee Bend State Park in the spring to see the diamorpha bloom – it is truly spectacular.