Little Ridge Park
Due to my work schedule for most of 2017, I had free time in the mornings. It was great and it gave me the chance to exercise more often. So basically anytime the weather was nice, I went to the park. We are fortunate to live near a very nice park on Lake Lanier, which also happens to be free AND dog friendly! I spend so much time at Little Ridge Park, you would think I lived there. It's not huge but there is a nice trail through the woods and it is easy to access the lake from different parts of the trail. There's also a boat launch but that is about it (no bathrooms or pavilions or such). It's crowded on weekends and holidays but during the week, I only ever see about 2-3 people on the trail. Again, it's dog friendly!! There are a lot of parks on the lake that are not dog friendly. My favorite feature is this island that sometimes becomes a peninsula depending on how high the water level is. You can walk/wade out there and it's just fun to explore. It's very shaded and a good place to put a hammock. Little Ridge is an Army Corps of Engineers park so please review their rules before visiting!!
My other standby has been Bowmans Island, which is part of the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area. It is attached to the Lower/Upper Pool Parks at Buford Dam, which is part of the Army Corps of Engineers. Different rules for each! Leashed dogs are allowed at Bowman's Island but not at the Lower or Upper Pool Parks. They all share an entrance at the Lower Pool Park and if there is an attendant at the gate, they will not let you bring dogs in. There is also an entrance at the Island Ford Unit and I am assuming you can bring dogs in this way, but I have never been to that location. Sometimes the gate is unattended and you simply put money in the box and get your parking permit and you and your dog can be on your way. Bowmans Island is also horse friendly but I have never seen anyone on horseback there.
I love the Chattahoochee and Bowmans Island is an easy way to access it. That being said, this is not a swimming hole/day drinking locale. There are always people fishing and I try to not disturb them. There is a fairly extensive trail around the island and some of it goes along the river and some up into the woods. There are maps all along the trail and I just sort of meander each time I go there. I love seeing the changes in the river due to dam releases or rainfall. It looks different each time I visit. I took these pictures in early fall when the weather was still warm and the river looked particularly beautiful.
So even if you think you don't have time for a hike, you can usually find a "in town" option near Lake Lanier and the Chattahoochee.