Friday, July 10, 2020

Yellow River Park

East of Atlanta, Yellow River Park, which is less than 15 minutes east of Stone Mountain Park, is a linear park that follows the banks of Yellow River north and south. There are picnic tables, pavilions, a playground, grills, restrooms, and two river observation decks along the park's total 13 miles of paths!

Yellow River Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Yellow River Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

This is a few steps north of the north observation deck. There are some nice vistas here, but no swimming or wading is allowed. Stay safe.

Yellow River Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Yellow River Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

The observation decks have ample room and the views of the river are good. The natural growth is so heavy that you can't see bank to bank, but there's nothing wrong with lush woods. And shade on a hot steamy Atlanta summer day is always a welcome respite!

Yellow River Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Yellow River Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

This is looking south from the north observation deck. Quite tranquil.

There are plans for future pedestrian trails on the other side of the river on the south side of the park. I'm not certain if that's part of the parks 566 acres, but either way it's a lot of park and a lot of paths!

Yellow River Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Yellow River Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

This side of the park has large open spaces with multi-use pathways. There were a lot, relatively speaking, of walkers out on this visit. There were also runners and a few bikes. Not at all crowded, but nice to see people out and practicing social distancing.

Yellow River Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Yellow River Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

This is part of the one-mile paved trail, which is on the north side of the park and leads to the north observation deck.

When I first arrived, I wasn't sure which way to go, but ran into Danny, the Park Foreman. He was very helpful and told me a bit about the park and we swapped some hiking stories. Super nice guy. I'm so glad he was there. I had not done my homework on this park like I should have.

When I was exploring the trails on the south end of the park, I followed along the riverbank and enjoyed some lovely sights. I have to say that there were some not so lovely sights, too...litter! Lots of litter! 

When I spoke with Danny later that day, I mentioned it and he shared that it's gotten bad since the pandemic hit and the number of park visitors rose sharply. People are littering faster than they can keep up. People...quit littering! I was taught, and still respect, that you ALWAYS take out what you bring in. If you know someone who needs a reminder, feel free to share the "Leave No Trace" campaign with them. Let's keep our parks clean and safe, please, please, please!

Yellow River Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Yellow River Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

I had started on the pedestrian trails on the south side of the park and walked a long, long way. There are 13 miles of trails in this park! (one mile paved, 12 natural trails) Some are pedestrian, some for bicycling, and some are for horseback riding—the latter two have their own parking lot south of the main lot.

I truly do not like to write anything negative on my posts (there's always something good to say!), but I would be remiss to not share that the paths on the south side of the park are not marked well and are confusing. I kept finding myself on one of the cycling or equestrian paths. I got totally lost. I used my phone's GPS to get heading back in the right direction and then I ran into Danny again who was very helpful. Turns out, you can walk on any of the trails, just be mindful when you're on a bike or horse trail.

If you find yourself lost and without GPS (always remember to charge your phone) and you don't see anyone else, I recommend walking toward the river and then following the path north (the river will be on your right) until you get back to the main parking area. If you don't find the river, you'll find the main road, so you'll be fine either way. 

Yellow River Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Yellow River Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

This is a lovely park and it's larger than meets the eye. There's a bit to see and plenty of exercise to be had. Remember the picnic tables, pavilion, and playground...an excellent mid-week family excursion!

If using GPS to get here, the address on the park's website is in the middle of a field between general parking and equestrian parking. This address will take you to the general parking lot, which is where the pedestrian paths begin: 3374 Juhan Road, SW, Stone Mountain, GA 30087.

Come on out and enjoy some time on Yellow River Park. Bring a picnic and don't forget to seek out the elevated river overlooks! 

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