Are you looking for a great hike to share with your mother or daughter (or all of the above) this Mother’s Day? Let me suggest the Johnson Ferry North loop hike, an easy and particularly scenic trail located in the Johnson Ferry North Unit of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. This is a perfect time of year to enjoy this particular hike, which offers easy walking as well as a great chance of seeing wildlife and spring wildflowers.
The hike begins at the trailhead on Johnson Ferry Road just west of the Chattahoochee River bridge. Park there (remember the daily parking fee) and then begin your hike by following the gravel drive more or less and along the river. You’ll pass a boat ramp on your right and some concession buildings on your left; beyond them, as the trail swings left, look for a gate which signals the start of a dirt path leading farther upstream to the Johnson Ferry North Loop trail.
Follow the dirt path. After a short distance you’ll cross a small bridge over tiny Nannyberry Creek. Just across the creek, the trail intersects the loop. You can hike the loop in either direction, but let’s go clockwise here.
Turn left. You’ll almost immediately find yourself on a boardwalk which carries you over a wetlands area. It’s a great place for looking for wildlife.
At the end of the boardwalk, the trail returns to dirt as it follows the toe of a ridge upriver. The ridge will be to your left, with more wetlands to your right. This is a particularly great area in which to keep an eye out for wildlife and wildflowers too.
The trail continues along the toe of the ridge for a while, crossing two creeks (Arrowhead Creek and Owl Creek) along the way. Eventually, you’ll come to yet another creek (Mulberry Creek), but don’t cross that one. Instead, turn right and follow the clear trail which parallels the creek toward the river.
Upon reaching the Chattahoochee, the trail will turn downriver and more or less parallel the Hooch as you return to where you began. At two points (near the mouths of Arrowhead Creek and Owl Creek) the trail will swing away from the river to make a creek crossing. However, after crossing each creek, the path quickly returns to the river.
Throughout this stretch, keep an eye out for wildlife…and if you want to take a break, you can enjoy a moment’s rest at one of several benches along the riverside portion of this trail.
Eventually, as you near Nannyberry Creek again, the trail swings right (inland) to take you back to the point where you began the loop. From there, turn left to return to your car…or keep going straight to walk the loop again! ■