Roswell has assets few cities can claim, including its historic charms, avid biking community, award-winning park systems, the much-loved Canton Street and the iconic Chattahoochee River.
But it’s the last one, the river, that’s really the gem of Roswell.
People love Canton Street, and for good reason. It’s often the first thing that comes to mind when people talk about Roswell, and it has a certain charisma and vitality that other cities struggle to replicate.
But Canton Street, at the end of the day, is a man-made feature. And the river is, well, a river. Either you have one or you don’t.
The Chattahoochee River is a fantastic and beautiful resource. But what really makes it and the city stand out is how accessible Roswell makes it for everyone to use.
I’m talking about the river trails, specifically the Riverwalk boardwalk, which recently was expanded for its fifth and final time.
I love walking Roswell’s parks and trails — from Leita Thompson Memorial Park to Big Creek to Old Mill Park — but the Riverwalk has to be one of my favorites.
I remember my first visit to Chattahoochee River, specifically Azalea Park, vividly. I was probably around 10 years old, and I thought that my family had taken me to the beach for the first time.
I was ecstatic. There it was: the water, the waves, the breeze, the plants, the birds. Picture perfect, just like I had imagined.
(True, the trees weren’t palm trees, and the geese were geese, not seagulls. But 10-year-old me wasn’t about to judge this beach for being a little different from those in the cartoons.)
My parents soon corrected me, but none of that put a damper on my mood. The breeze, the gentle lapping of water, the game of Frisbee and, the best part, all the wildlife was the same.
How lucky am I, I thought, that I can visit a place like this so close to home.
The magic is still there years later. And the boardwalk made it a whole new experience, so different from the park and hiking trails I’m used to.
Maybe it’s how it winds around the river, each bend promising a new surprise. Or how the waters rise and fall throughout the year, giving you a new view each time you visit. Or how easy it is to encounter wildlife on your travels — the waterfowl, the fish, the butterflies, the lizards.
Or maybe it’s just as simple as the satisfying and distinctive thump each step makes on the boardwalk as you pass over land and water.
Over the past year, I’ve had multiple friends visit from out of state — Missouri, Ohio and Alaska. I always take them to the Riverwalk first. And I can’t tell you how many times they’ve told me — later, over lunch, on Canton Street — that they were jealous, that if they had such a trail back at home, they would be on it all the time.
It was a humbling reminder of just how special the river trail is and that not every city has one. It’s easy to forget and take for granted what makes your city unique when you live in it.
If you haven’t gone yet, check out the Riverwalk. You’ll always find a little peace and a new adventure.