On the western flank of the Chattahoochee River, just north of the Morgan Falls Dam, is a scenic forested trail that skirts the edge of Bull Sluice Lake and the Morgan Falls Reservoir. Here, just above the reservoir, the river slows to a crawl and provides marshy habitat for dozens of kinds of birds, amphibians, and reptiles that make for excellent wildlife viewing. The Gold Branch recreation area has almost 5 miles of total trail, which allows for many running and hiking options by using the connecting trails to make different loops.
What truly makes this walk special is visiting in fall, when the name Gold Branch becomes apparent. In the last week of October, the hardwoods of northern Atlanta start to burst with color. Until the middle of November when the leaves start to fall, the walk around Gold Branch will truly be golden as eastern cottonwood, American elm, post oak, white oak, and other hardwoods show bright golds to deep hues of red.
In the water you may see kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders coming from Morgan Falls Overlook Park, which is just across the reservoir. Parking will be limited on a day with nice weather, so make sure to show up early. If it’s full there are other close-by options for hiking such as Sope Creek and East Palisades.