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Duluth Massage

Gold Branch Trail
Georgia Trails

Trail Length: 4.8 miles Type of trail: Loop
County: Cobb County, GA Our rating: Moderate
Features: lake, fishing, 60hikes Your rating:
Usage: Light Added on: May 18, 2005
Last hiked: July 24, 2004 Updated on: February 01, 2009
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Hiking trails in Cobb County, GA

Directions to Gold Branch Trail

In 1904 Morgan Falls dam was completed, impounding Bull Sluice Lake north of Atlanta on the Chattahoochee River by developer S. Morgan Smith, who owned the Atlanta Water and Electric Power Company. With the completion of the dam, Georgia Railway and Electric Company contracted with Smith to provide power to the company, which was struggling to meet the rapidly growing demands of the city. The lake is named for the 30-foot Bull Sluice Falls which were completely covered when the lake reached full level. The lake has a surface area of 673.6 acres at full level according to Georgia Power, and is one of the largest lakes south of Allatoona. In September, 2004 the lake may have set a record size at nearly 800 acres thanks to Hurricane Ivan. It features excellent fishing - expect to catch bass along with rainbow and brown trout, bream, crappie and perch.

Morgan Falls was one of the first hydroelectric projects in the state. In 1911, Preston S. Arkwright, an Atlanta lawyer heavily involved in the development of electric power purchased the Atlanta Water and Electric Power Company, combined it with Georgia Railway and Electric Company and leased the company, along with Atlanta Gas Light and other companies, to the newly formed Georgia Railway and Power Company. In 1926 the company consolidated again, this time under the name Georgia Power. In 1929 the company sold off Atlanta Gas and Light as part of a general divestiture of gas assets.

Looking into a cove of Bull Sluice Lake from Gold Branch
Gold Branch, the name of the creek that bisects the park, drains the watershed on the west side of the Chattahoochee River. From the parking area walk to the brown roofed kiosk. To the left a set of stairs carries hikers into the fully shaded, diverse deciduous forest. The trail quickly falls to Gold Branch and a long boardwalk-like bridge that crosses the stream that is more like a wetlands in this area. Rising from the crossing take the trail on the far left as it follows Gold Branch to Bull Sluice Lake. As the path curves around to the right, Bull Sluice lake open as an expanse of river, wider, calmer and deeper than the Chattahoochee both before and after Morgan Falls dam. Over the next 0.5 miles Gold Branch Trail has a number of side trails that drop down to good fishing areas on the left. The path slowly descends to a flat area just above the level of the lake which is a popular fishing spot at 0.7 miles. There are some good lake shore views straight ahead, although the trail does end at a rock outcrop just over 0.2 miles later. Turn around, return to the wide intersection, turn right and begin the difficult climb into the watershed of the Chattahoochee.

At the top of the first knoll the climb moderates, but continues to the top of a second knoll, where the footpath T's into a dirt road. Turn left on this trail at 1.8 miles and immediately begin descending at an easy-to-moderate pace in full sun. Travel 0.2 miles and turn left on a second road that descends to the shore of Bull Sluice Lake. About 200 feet before the water the footpath turns right, into the forest and begins a 1.5 mile difficult section of the trail. Falling to a wet foot crossing of a stream, the trail turns left and climbs, returning to the lake shore at 2.4 miles. In full sun when shore-side, the trail rises and falls frequently, normally to get around an obstruction like a rock outcrop or a low-lying area. Gold Branch moves inland to cross streams then returns to the lake shore. At 3.3 miles the path turns right on a gravel road and begins to climb at a moderate to difficult rate, leaving the shore of Bull Sluice Lake for the last time.

At the top of the hill, at a map stand, Gold Branch Trail again turns right and begins to follow the original roadbed of Lower Roswell Road along a ridge top in full sun. Notice a second roadbed off to the right and below the path. Continue on this main trunk until it T's, then turn left and walk a few steps to the boardwalk bridge near the start of the hike.

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