Try these great FREE outdoor resources: 800+ Georgia Trail Maps or try the Discover Georgia Trails App

DO IT: Hiking - Chattahoochee RiverWalk

Chattahoochee RiverWalk -

The Chattahoochee RiverWalk in Columbus skirts the banks of the Chattahoochee River, which follows the border between Georgia and Alabama. The meandering and hilly paved pathway runs 22 linear miles, linking the quaint cotton mill village of Bibb City north of Uptown Columbus with Fort Benning to the south.

Developed as part of the Uptown Columbus revitalization, the RiverWalk attracts tens of thousands of users every year. After the initial stretch of trail was constructed in 1992, the RiverWalk steadily expanded. By 1996, the paved trail reached all the way to the main post of Fort Benning, giving those who travel on two feet or two wheels a blend of cityscapes and untouched wildlife. The RiverWalk now extends through the campus of Columbus-based corporation TSYS and into the cotton mill town of Bibb City. It also is part of the greater Dragonfly Trails network which is slowly but surely turning old rail pathways into 60 miles of paved paths for bike or foot traffic that will connect outlying areas with Columbus.

The Chattahoochee River originates in the mountains of North Georgia and flows to the Florida Panhandle. The river was integral to native peoples prior to settlement. In the 1800s, commerce flowed through the river and to Columbus, as steamboats loaded with cotton and other goods pushed economic development.

Today, the river is an appealing aesthetic component of the third largest metro area in Georgia. When the weather is warm, pedestrians and cyclists are likely to see brave participants take on the longest urban whitewater course in the world that runs right through the west side of Uptown Columbus. With towering office buildings and chic condos behind them, spectators gather along the water’s edge to watch groups of rafters and solo kayakers shoot the rapids. The contrast between cityscape and natural wonder perfectly encapsulates Columbus.

While the accessible pathway is fit for strollers and wheelchairs, and the city center is extremely walkable, bicycles will help cover more ground and explore more of the area via the RiverWalk and other nearby routes. For visitors to Columbus, several area bike shops have affordable daily rentals.

Recommended Bike Route: Woodruff Waterfront Park to Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center, Loop

With ample parking at Woodruff Riverfront Park (1000 Bay Ave.), this is an ideal place to start and finish. Whether you’re unloading your personal bike or pulling up on a rental, you won’t be far from the action of Uptown Columbus.

Woodruff Riverfront Park has restrooms, an amphitheater, a playground, and a splash pad. The splash pad is free to use, open 7 days a week from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. unless otherwise posted and will be a great way to cool off after your ride.

Starting from the parking lot at the crest of the riverbank, navigate the paved sidewalks to the RiverWalk path that runs along the water’s edge. Once on the path, face south to see Phenix City, AL on the west side of the river to your right, with Uptown Columbus and the surrounding areas to your left in the east.

Head south on the path, passing under the Dillingham Street Bridge in your first 0.2 miles and pass under a railroad bridge at 0.4 miles. After 0.6 miles, you’ll pass the Coca-Cola Space Science Center and the path will leave the Uptown Columbus area, becoming more residential along the banks.

After 1.0 mile, you’ll pass under the Route 280 bridge where the river begins to bend east and in another 0.5 miles you’ll pass the unmistakable Columbus Civic Center. Around 2 miles in, the National Civil War Naval Museum will be on the left before the area around the RiverWalk becomes less populated.

Around 4.2 miles in is Rigdon Park. If the full distance of the recommended trail seems too far, a shorter alternative could be the 8.4-mile round trip from Woodruff Riverfront Park to Rigdon Park. The fields and pools of Rigdon Park would provide bikers a chance to stretch their legs and stroll along the banks of the Chattahoochee before heading back to Uptown.

If you choose to go past Rigdon Park, the Chattahoochee bends back to the west, exposing a breathtaking natural vista on each side of the river. The path pulls away from the riverside slightly as it approaches the Columbus Water Works treatment center and a South Columbus neighborhood at 5.6 miles. The pathway then passes through marshlands, which are teeming with birds and other wildlife.

At 7.1 miles, the trail, with is heading due east, turns sharply south. You’ll pass the Oxbow Creek Golf Course and the Columbus City Dog Park before cruising into the Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center. The total time for the first leg of the loop should take around an hour to complete, depending on stops and sightseeing, of course.

A highlight of the route, Oxbow Meadows helps visitors to understand the local ecology and wildlife and explore nature trails along wetlands and ponds. The National Infantry Museum adjacent to Oxbow Meadows is another great place to stop and tour if time allows.

Once you’re rested, head back the same way you came, keeping an eye out for the landmarks you saw on the way down and enjoying the 180-degree difference in your view. If you still have energy when you reach Woodruff Riverfront Park, consider heading 0.3 miles north to the Eagle & Phenix Dam area to watch the whitewater rafters from Waveshaper Island. It’s a must-do activity in Columbus.

Trail Maps

Interactive Map:

Featured Attractions