The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, a set of waterfront federal parks stretching from Hall to Cobb counties, are reopening in phases starting this week due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The area, which had been closed since March 21, decided to reopen its parks May 11 after getting guidance from the White House, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local public health authorities.
According to a news release, the National Park Service, which owns and maintains the parks, starting May 11, the area is reopening access to all park trails and river access and the following units’ parking areas: Abbotts Bridge, Medlock Bridge, Jones Bridge, two parking lots at Island Ford, Johnson Ferry North, Powers Island, Interstate North, Akers Mill and Paces Mill. Also, entry fees are waived.
However, due to public health concerns, the following facilities remain closed at this time: parking areas not listed above as open, comfort stations, picnic areas, including shelters, and the Hewlett Lodge Visitor Center.
“We welcome visitors back to the park to use the trails and river for recreation,” acting Superintendent Ann Honious said in the release. “Where parking areas remain closed or are full we ask visitors to please park safely and legally, following all regulations, to assist in creating a safe visitor experience for all.”
According to the release, the park service continues to prioritize the health and safety of its visitors, employees, volunteers and partners, and it will reopen other components of the area’s units once they comply with federal and CDC guidelines as they are updated and more restrictions are lifted.
“When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders, practice Leave No Trace Seven Principles, avoid crowding and avoid high-risk outdoor activities,” the release stated.
At the East Palisades unit’s upper trail in Sandy Springs, where the park’s closure meant a parking lot was also closed, visitors have parked along both sides of Indian Trail nearby. That caused problems for the street’s residents by having visitors block mailboxes and yell at residents, according to Karen Steinbert, who lives on the street and commented on the issue at the Sandy Springs City Council’s May 5 meeting.
City spokeswoman Sharon Kraun said aimed to solve that problem beginning with the weekend of May 8 through 10 by not allowing weekend parking on both sides of Indian Trail, where the park service already had a no-parking zone.