This fall, the trees that line Sandy Springs’ parks, streams and trails will transform from emerald green to sunset orange, fiery red and golden yellow, making it a wonderful time to explore the great outdoors. Residents and visitors are lucky to have a plethora of outdoor options to take in the area’s beauty. While there are many well-known spots where visitors and locals alike flock each year for leaf peeping, there are a few hidden gems spread throughout Sandy Springs where foliage fanatics can revel in being one of the lucky few to uncover beautiful fall colors right in Atlanta’s back yard. Sandy Springs is a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, featuring hundreds of acres of parkland and three Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA) trail units waiting to be explored by fall fanatics.
Nestled on the lesser-frequented eastern banks of the Chattahoochee River, visitors will find the East Palisades Trail, one of Sandy Springs’ three Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area trail units. The 3.4-mile trail is one of the most scenic stretches of the Chattahoochee River, leading hikers and leaf peepers past several high overlooks, the ruins of an old home site and through a bamboo forest to a view of the forested Palisades cliffs that are unique to Sandy Springs.
Island Ford Park
Hidden at the end of a stretch of tree lined winding roads at the northernmost point of the city sits Island Ford Park, one of Sandy Springs three Chattahoochee River National Recreation Areas. Despite being one of the first pieces of land purchased for the CRNRA, Island Ford has remained one of Atlanta’s best kept secrets, which has allowed it to remain an uncrowded gem of woodland beauty. Island Ford is home to the National Park Service headquarters located in the historic Hewlett House. Island Ford Park hosts three miles of trails covered in fall foliage, fields of wildflowers, large cave-like rock outcrops and tons of local wildlife.
John Ripley Forbes Big Trees Forest Preserve
Fall fanatics will be delighted to uncover fern-lined banks, flowing springs and canopies of trees blanketed with changing leaves in a variety of fall colors at this 30-acre sanctuary. Leashed furry friends are welcome in this natural oasis located in the heart of Sandy Springs. There is a 15-stop self-guided watershed education tour which shows the positive and negative effects human impact can have on water quality and the forest community.
Catch a breathtaking sunset amongst the changing fall leaves at Morgan Falls Overlook Park. This 30-acre riverside park includes picnic pavilions, a boat dock, a hiking trail, bench swings, an overlook of Bull Sluice Lake and plenty of scenic views perfect for leaf peeping.
Lost Corner Preserve
Located on 24 acres of beautiful woodlands and nature trails, Lost Corner Preserve is a hidden gem for nature lovers and history buffs alike. The park features a community garden, greenhouse, apiary, walking trails and a beautifully renovated historic cottage. The century-old bungalow style cottage is available for public rentals daily. Community activities, from photography classes to master gardener lectures, are offered throughout the year.
Another of Sandy Springs’ three Chattahoochee National Recreation Area units, Powers Island offers serene trail loops through a striking riverside forest and stunning views of the changing fall scenery along the Chattahoochee River.
After an adventure-filled day exploring the outdoors, discover one of the more than 100 unique and independently owned restaurants in the area, many with outdoor dining for enjoying the cooler fall temperatures. Ray’s on the River, one of the area’s most beloved restaurants, offers guests views of colorful fall foliage on the banks of the Chattahoochee River. Casi Cielo has one of the liveliest outdoor patios in Sandy Springs, with DJs spinning tunes while guests enjoy smoky, hand-crafted Mezcal cocktails paired with Oaxacan-inspired dishes. On Wednesdays, District M hosts patio parties with live music, local DJs and delicious culinary creations prepared at Chef Jackie Chang’s sushi bar.