In the heart of Sandy Springs, where the Chattahoochee River winds its way north of Atlanta, locals find a waterside retreat that rivals the allure of any ocean or river cruise. The river offers 20 miles of waterfront across our city and offers not only a scenic backdrop but a hub of vibrant community life. For both newcomers and long-time residents, the Chattahoochee is not just a waterway; it is a cornerstone of community life, a natural playground and a thread that weaves through their everyday experiences, offering endless opportunities for relaxation and adventure right on their doorstep. Here is some history about the river and six ways you can experience it for yourself!

The Chattahoochee River, seen from the East Palisades Trail. Photos by Rob Knight

Newcomers to Sandy Springs might find pronunciation of the Chattahoochee River a bit of a tongue-twister, but long-time residents speak easily and frequently of the many ways they enjoy this sprawling beautiful shoreline in their city.

Sandy Springs is lucky to include part of the 434-mile river that originates in the southeast corner of Union County, Georgia, in the southern Appalachian Mountains and drifts southwesterly through the Atlanta metropolitan area before ending in Lake Seminole, at the Georgia-Florida border.

The name Chattahoochee is thought to be that of an early Indian village and probably means “cornmeal” or “pounded rock”. Archaeological evidence indicates that humans have lived along its banks for as long as 3000 years, dating back to 1000 B.C.

While history buffs may focus on those tidbits of information, Sandy Springs residents fixate on the many ways that they can enjoy what the Chattahoochee River offers.

Living on the river

The Huntcliff neighborhood along the Chattahoochee

Imagine waking up each morning to the sights and sounds of river life just outside your home. In Sandy Springs, residents can do just that. They can live in established neighborhoods such as Huntcliff on the Chattahoochee where residents can enjoy swimming, tennis, horseback riding or , river sports.

Home styles vary from country French, traditional, plantation-style, and modern, set on curving, hilly roads with some ending in cul-de-sacs that offer secluded home lots. The Huntcliff River Preserve centers around a clubhouse teaming with activities. A floating dock allows easy river access for kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards. The horsey set can find professional riding instruction for all ages.

Similarly, the well-established residential neighborhood of Riverside offers homes that were mostly built in the 1960s and 1970s. The nearby Chattahoochee River offers spectacular views and recreational activities, and the Riverside club includes a swimming pool and tennis courts.

This quiet overlook at One River Place offers residents a private gate to the Chattahoochee.

One River Place, located on Powers Ferry Road, just inside the perimeter highway, includes walking trails, lawns for outdoor activities and private access to the Chattahoochee River. In addition, there’s sidewalk access to the Chattahoochee River recreation areas at Cochran Shoals and Powers Island.

Another long-time residential area along the river in Sandy Springs is The Lodge on the Chattahoochee Apartments. Offering one, two and three-bedroom apartments, the complex sits along the river, ensuring residents they can just slip out of their homes and either swim in the pool, take their pets to the play area, or walk along the Chattahoochee River Trail.

In April, construction is expected to begin on a new river-area condo community. The four-building Oasis on the Chattahoochee will be built on 3.7 acres located at 9300 Roberts Drive, next to a river bend. The living options will start with studios and will move up to four-bedroom choices with rooftop decks (grilling areas and hot tub included). These are targeted to open in April 2026.

For residents of any of these or other neighborhoods in Sandy Springs, or just visitors, eating at Ray’s on the River is always a delicious choice with sumptuous views of the Chattahoochee.

Shooting the hooch

Novices to the area might need to check the internet to understand the expression, “shooting the hooch,” but veterans of Sandy Springs understand and love the concept. Newcomers quickly learn that “shooting the hooch” translates into a languid summer afternoon floating down the Chattahoochee River in the hot sun, sipping drinks kept cold in a cooler floating behind a tube in water as deep as 10 feet.

On spring, summer, and even autumn days, the Chattahoochee River sports colorful specks of slowly floating tubes sprawling from shore to shore in gentle currents sometimes under awnings of hanging trees. The Nantahala Outdoor Center in Sandy Springs is one of the popular rental companies in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area that offer tube, kayak, and raft rentals from April to September. Most companies charge about $25 for rentals, parking fees, and shuttle service, but many frequent floaters invest in their own gear.

Hook, rod, and reel

A fisherman below the Morgan Falls dam

If you want a less active way to enjoy the river which stays a cool temperature all year, rarely warming to more than 50 degrees, you can pick up a hook, rod, and reel and catch a dinner or two. Fish caught in the river are safe to eat.

The river is home to trout, bass, catfish, and 20 other species of fish. In fact, the Chattahoochee River is the southernmost trout river in the country, possibly due to Buford Dam releasing cold water from the bottom of Lake Lanier in north Georgia, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources stocking the river.

The use of carp, goldfish, or other wild fish as bait is illegal in Georgia, but worms, nocturnal caterpillars, maggots, and wax worms are encouraged.

Don’t forget the fishing license. Like fish, licenses come in all sizes. There are short-term licenses with limited privileges all the way to full-privilege licenses that last a lifetime. There are also discounted licenses available for veterans, active-duty military, seniors, and people who are disabled.

Fishing without it could cost you a fine of not less than $500 for a first offense, and not less than $1,500 for a second offense. There goes that cheap meal.

Take a hike

Hiking along the Chattahoochee River has several benefits. First, there’s exercise, of course. Second, there’s the opportunity to spot a wide range of fowl both in and out of the river. Among the more interesting are mallard ducks, geese, cranes, herons, and egrets. But third, are the fresh, cooler temperatures that exist in the tree-umbrellaed trails along the river.

There are several scenic trails in Sandy Springs that provide maps and often include kid-friendly routes. Some of these can be found in Morgan Falls Overlook Park and Morgan Falls River Park in Sandy Springs that are basically one park split into two. They can be found at the end of Morgan Falls Road off of Roswell Road. In addition to the hiking and water activities, a playground and dog parks can be found.

Other hiking areas can be found at Indian Trail, Hewlett Lodge Trail, and Johnson Ferry Short Loop.

Three more options

Although authorities always urge caution, swimming is allowed in the cool waters of the Chattahoochee.

Another possibility is paddle board yoga! From May to September, you can choose among all kinds of paddles at the High Country Paddle Shack on Morgan Falls Road.

Picnic tables can be found in various areas along the banks of the river. Outdoor grills are provided for those who want to cook their food on site.

Anybody want to grill those fish they caught?