By Audrey Andrews | June 19th, 2020
One way (from National Infantry Museum to 14th Street Pedestrian Bridge):
154 feet elevation gain
The Chattahoochee River Walk is the easily the premier running route in Columbus, Georgia. Traversing from Fort Benning, through downtown Columbus and beyond, the River Walk is remarkably long and beautiful. Every morning and evening, the downtown area teems with recreation. Southern sections of the path yield deer, alligators and mosquitos. Thus, an end-to-end run provides all types of scenery along a single route.
The National Infantry Museum is a great parking area for the southern section. First, the trail wanders around Oxbow Creek Golf Course. Runners then cross a lightly trafficked road leading to Columbus Water Works and traverse around a series of ponds. Along both the ponds and the Chattahoochee River, fisherwomen and fishermen are a common sight.
“Caution: Alligator Habitat” signs frequent the pathway in the southern, more secluded area. I’ve roamed the River Walk specifically looking for an alligator, but have yet to see one. The first time I visited this portion of the walk, the red writing left me feeling eerie. Fortunately, based on some quick googling, it seems an adult human should (should!) be able to outrun an alligator.
7 miles north of the National Infantry Museum, runners pass a boat launch and quickly come upon a wooden walkway. The first time I encountered this treasure, I gasped aloud. Thought a tiny section of the River Walk, it is undeniably charming. Nowadays, I often find myself planning routes which take me across the Strava-deemed “troll bridge.”
From the cute bridge, the path heads into downtown Columbus. Understandably, the area surrounding the city center is the most trafficked section of the River Walk. On walks, I enjoy stopping to stare at the rapids. In fact, you can raft the rapids, which I hope to do soon. In the downtown section, runners may head towards the Fall Line Trace for an even longer run.
I typically end my run at the 14th Street Pedestrian Bridge, which is where I recommend turning around. Please note this is also where the above mapped route ends. If crossed, the bridge leads to the the Phenix City River Walk, offering further miles of path. Beyond the Pedestrian Bridge, the River Walk soon begins to lag in beauty. The path approaches the North Highlands Dam and subsequent reservoir.
These 8.8 miles of the Chattahoochee River Walk are wonderfully runable and picturesque. Of course, I prefer a point-to-point run if a drop off and pick up are available. But, out and back wanders on the River Walk are just as well. I must say, of countless runs and walks here, I’ve only seen one person catch a fish from the Chattahoochee River.