The bustling suburb of Johns Creek gives your fur-family plenty to bark about. With the natural beauty of the area — and especially the parkland along the Chattahoochee River on the community’s southern edge — it’s easy to forget you’re just a half-hour from Downtown Atlanta (barring a traffic catastrophe). Johns Creek is a safe, dog-loving community, perfect for exploring on foot. And on paw, of course.
Your first stop is the Johns Creek community website, where you can download a sidewalk and trail map and chart your perfect journey. The city’s network of paved multi-use paths connect commercial areas with green space and the river. Plus, with a good sidewalk map, it’s easy to partake of the 19 dog-friendly restaurants with outdoor seating. There are five vet practices in town and a 24-hour emergency vet just over the border in Duluth, so you can handle a few adventures.
Looking for something a little wilder? Fortunately, the metro-Atlanta area is rich in sizeable state parks. Don Carter State Park on Lake Lanier is an hour northeast of Johns Creek, Red Top Mountain State Park on Lake Allatoona is an hour northwest, and Sweetwater Creek in Lithia Springs is less than an hour southwest. All three parks are stops in the Georgia State Parks’ Tails on Trails Club. If you and your favorite fur-buddy pick up a passport at a ranger station and collect stamps verifying that you hiked seven of the state’s most scenic trails — together — you’ll get a matching t-shirt and bandana to show the world what an amazing team you are!
All the most discerning canines of Johns Creek appreciate the amenities at Newtown Dream Dog Park. With an agility obstacle course, summertime sprinklers, separate areas by dog size, and even covered seating for you, this park has it all. Except cats, that is: The park’s website takes a firm line on that one (as in “cats strictly prohibited”). Newtown Park has two miles of paved, on-leash trail for serious walkers. Newtown is also a neighborhood of excellent sidewalks, so it’s easy to extend the journey — and even bring the kitties along for a stroll. You can even grab a puppuccino for him and a latte for you, or a quick meal on a dog-friendly patio, at the shopping center across the street from the park.
The Autrey Mill Nature Preserve is a beautiful 46-acre nonprofit park built by and for nature lovers like you! With 2.5 miles of trails through leafy hardwood forest and over wetland boardwalk, you’ll have peace and quiet and a pack of tired pups by the end of the day. If you can’t pass up a learning opportunity, get the instructions for the cell phone audio tour and get the scoop on the preserve’s history and wildlife. Since lots of species rely on the preserve as a safe home, be sure all your pups stay on-leash and on-trail, and be sure they don’t leave any deposits behind.
Look, if you’re going to spend much time hanging out with dogs in Johns Creek, you’re going to want to invest in an annual parking pass for the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area. Really, it should be Areas, as it’s more of a string of natural preserves that stretch along the river for 48 miles. For a reasonable daily fee but a paid-for-in-eight-uses annual pass, you get access to some of the most beautiful riverside trails, picnic areas, wading areas, and natural scenery in the entire metro Atlanta area. CRNRA Jones Bridge Area has a network of dog-friendly hiking trails to explore; restrooms and fountains are available near the main parking area, but be sure to bring water bottles and waste bags.
On the other end of Johns Creek, the Abbotts Bridge Area of the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area (CRNRA) also offers a nice splashing area and a nature trail. If your dogs are serious paddlers, you can always use one of the many CRNRA boat launches: because the river is dotted with National Park ramps, it’s easy to plan a drop-off or pick-up for a one-way float. After all, “shooting the ‘hooch” is an old-school Atlanta pastime. From Abbotts Bridge, it’s not far to the Chattahoochee Dog Park in Duluth, so if you’re looking for a more sociable place to frolic, the area has a lot to offer.
Even though it’s directly across the river from the CRNRA Jones Bridge Area, Jones Bridge Park in Peachtree Corners is actually almost eight miles away by car because of the limited river crossings. The drive is worth it for the lovely Jones Bridge Park Trail, a five-mile loop that winds by the river, over a couple of suspension bridges, and through meadow and dense forest. As long as you’re on this side of the river, head over to the CRNRA Medlock Bridge Area for some more beautiful on-leash trails, and then scope out the cluster of dog-friendly restaurants with patio seating just south on Hwy 141, including the Atlanta homegrown chain The Flying Biscuit. There's even an off-leash dog park at nearby Pinckneyville Park.