Sandy Springs is a bustling community over 100,000 with a prime location near I-285 and GA-400 in metropolitan Atlanta, just east of Perimeter Mall. With so much nearby commerce plus the infamous Atlanta-area traffic, life in Sandy Springs can get pretty intense. Fortunately, the scenic Chattahoochee River forms the community’s northern and western border, so you can retreat to serene waterfront right in your backyard.
Committed walkers should invest in an annual pass for parking at the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area — a series of waterfront parks and nature preserves that dot the river over a span of 48 miles, including a location in Sandy Springs. This network of dog-friendly parks makes it easy to “shoot the ‘hooch” with your furry friends. Grab your dogs and a canoe or raft, pack some provisions and safety gear, plan a pick-up point, and set out for a day of purposeful paddling or laid-back floating.
Sandy Spring’s location makes it easy to reach the many state and national parks in metro Atlanta. The Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park is less than 18 miles away, with miles of trails including a moderately challenging hike to the summit, plus some intriguing Civil War history. Sweetwater Creek State Park with creekside hiking and the ruins of a historic mill is just 29 miles, and Red Top Mountain State Park on lovely Lake Allatoona is 33 miles. Both state parks are part of the Tails on Trails Club. Take your pup with you to hike seven of the state’s best trails, stop by a ranger station to pick up a passport to get stamped at each park, and you’ll earn a matching t-shirt/bandanna combo so you can dress like the team that you are.
The business district at the heart of Sandy Springs offers more than 20 dog-friendly restaurants with patio seating. This includes some of Atlanta’s best pet stores. The Dog City Bakery and the Whole Dog Market are particularly pawpular with the locals. Dog City Bakery has two locations, one on Roswell Road and the other in nearby East Cobb, and specializes in handmade delicacies for your very good boy. Whole Dog Market sells a wide range of premium pet food and also makes their own locally-sourced rawhide treats, along with a self-service dog-wash station. Or, wash your dog while you indulge in specialty coffee at Perk-N-Pooch, which offers both DIY and professional grooming stations in a coffee shop atmosphere. Though this part of Sandy Springs is all business, you can walk off some of those treats at the beautifully landscaped Abernathy Greenway, a “linear park” alongside Abernathy Road between Johnson Ferry and Roswell.
At the Island Ford Unit of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, you and your fur family can enjoy some of the best wading and splashing in the state, plus a network of foot trails that connect the park’s two halves. You can take the quick loop around the pond or the longer loop up to Beech Creek, or add another couple of miles with the connecting trail to the north addition. There are human restrooms and a boat ramp if you want to try a little dog-paddling. Be sure to bring water and waste bags, and to keep the trails clean for other users. Not tired yet? Just across the river in Roswell, the Vickery Creek Unit of the CRNRA has an even longer trail system featuring two waterfalls and a footbridge, and the adjacent Riverside Park run by the City of Roswell has some additional trails—and even free wi-fi for uploading all those cute dog pictures you take on your walk!
The northwestern section of Sandy Springs is full of lush riverfront forests so peaceful that you can forget how close you are to Downtown Atlanta. The Morgan Falls River Park is three-and-a-half manicured acres with a view over Bull Sluice Lake, the Morgan Dam, and the Chattahoochee River. With comfortable waterfront bench swings for you and a fenced off-leash dog play area for your pals, you can easily pass a whole afternoon. If you want a larger terrain to explore, though, the Big Trees Forest Preserve is just a few miles east. With 30 acres of trails and streams that welcome on-leash dogs, Big Trees will mean Big Fun for your fur family!
Just over Sandy Spring’s southern border in the City of Brookhaven is Murphey Candler Park, a massive 135-acre green space just begging for some playtime. Runners, walkers, and puppers all love the smooth and level two-mile loop trail around the lake. With ducks and geese to bark at and lots of neighbor dogs to meet, this trail will give your fur family plenty of entertainment in addition to their exercise. The dog-friendly city of Brookhaven plans occasional dog-themed events and festivities in the park, including an annual “Doggy Dip Day” in the Murphey Candler Pool at the close of the season.
Five miles from Sandy Springs in East Cobb, the Sope Creek Park
Trail is a wooded hike to some magnificent 1850s paper mill ruins, an enormous
operation before it was destroyed by the Union during the Civil War. Sope Creek
is part of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, and the short and
level park trail leads to the more rugged and private Sope Creek Trail and a
second set of ruins. For bigger ambitions, the Sope Creek Trail also connects
to the more heavily-used Cochran Shoals Trail, which extends another 8.5 miles
along the river to the Cochran Shoals Unit of the CRNRA.