Best places to kayak in North Georgia

Best places to kayak in North Georgia, kayaking across some of North Georgia’s most beautiful and scenic Rivers and Lakes. These locations include the Etowah river winding 163 miles from Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains to Rome where we specifically paddled through an abandoned mining tunnel dug through a mountain to divert the river’s waters while they searched for Gold in the late 1800’s. The wild Cartecay river at 19 miles winding through beautiful Ellijay, Georgia where we began with minor shoals and ended the trip paddling through an exciting series of Class II rapids. For a family fun trip suitable for all ages we will visit the Chestatee River Adventures outfitters and paddle the scenic and calm Chestatee River near Dahlonega, Georgia.

At this time there are only a few non-motorized rivers and lakes open to paddlers within easy reach of Atlanta. Boat & Trail, Angler’s Cove, Fish Creek, and Spray that are part of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area are well suited for beginners and families. They are great starting points for an exciting adventure in Georgia or check out East Fork Pecora State Park and over 20,000 acres of wildlife habitat.

Etowah River

Prior to making our way to Rome, we paddled the Etowah River from its source at Blue Ridge Mountain. This waterway cuts a narrow but meandering gorge through beautiful hardwood forests that have abundant wildlife and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Georgia’s the Blue Ridge Mountains

Paddling through the incredible backdrops of the Blue Ridge Mountains was one of the highlights of the trip. It gave us the opportunity to explore a few of the most beautiful and famous locations in the state of Georgia. Besides the Cobb Mountain viewing tower and Spring Mountain Cave, our favorite site was a secret waterfall pool nestled within a cave mouth of a small waterfall that we were invited to explore on our final day.

Trumpeter White Water River

As you approach downtown Chattanooga from Lookout Mountain the Tennessee river’s tumbling waters surround the city. The riverbank is a bustling day lover’s paradise, and for those looking for a challenge, there are several great trips for kayaking and canoeing on the river. One of the most well-known places to experience the stunning white water is the Two Rivers Kayak Canoeing and Whitewater Center.

Cartecay River

This stretch of the old Etowah River runs through North Georgia with high basalt cliffs and waterfalls and the riverbanks with hiking and biking trails. The river itself is lined with picturesque farms and wide stretches of fields and will keep you in pleasant solitude. It is especially suited for beginners who want to learn kayaking and for intermediate paddlers who want to be challenged.

Cartecay River Adventures offers the most unusual of trips! They kayak the Etowah River, a remnant of the old Georgia Gold Rush. The 33-mile long river passes through Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. It was so named because of an unusual rock formation called Cartecay Rock.

With 39.6 miles of water, the river meanders through some of Georgia’s most beautiful scenery, including six waterfalls.

What to expect on the trip

This is a 2+ day trip on the Etowah River that is 1,163 miles long and consists of some of the most beautiful backdrops, picturesque waterfalls, and beautiful homes in Georgia. This river is very shallow, we typically only had to go less than waist-deep in the water and the river has one of the fastest speeds of any river in the world. It takes 3-6 hours to paddle the whole river on a raft. Many times you can see deer and other wildlife as well as many old mining tunnels, a favorite spot to fish in.

This is a very comfortable river trip and a great introduction to kayaking for beginners. The Etowah is a well-known river and is popular for tourists, but it’s a wilderness river with a lot of unknowns.

Where to park

Check out the Etowah River Paddlers Facebook page for additional information. We recommend parking at the Chattahoochee Trace Bridge access point which is a short walk from the overlook at the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.

Route Information

The hike to the spot is approximately 4 miles in elevation gain along a well-maintained but uneven path. The current is generally flat and at times you will go downhill a few feet. The river’s current is moderate to strong in this section and a SUP is recommended. Use caution and this may be an active area for bald eagles as they can be found along the river for most of the route. The water level is normal but to paddle on the Etowah river it is recommended that you use a river guide.

The perfect day for paddling

Prepare your paddling gear before coming out to the tour and on-site with your tour guide and you will be set! The tour will include general paddling instruction, gear check, kayak (never your own), and paddle and backpack rental, lunch, and scenic and relaxing one-hour paddle along the scenic Chestatee River. The river and surrounding area is well known for its clear, cold, and fast running water and sandy beaches. You will be hiking on the Chestatee Gorge Trail about a half-mile from the end of the hike to the Chestatee River. As you walk the trail it is recommended you take your own lunch to enjoy the views from the river and overlook and waterfall that is found at the end of the hike.

Chestatee River Adventures

An outfitter or canoe, kayaks, and SUPs for many years now, they have a series of floating raft trips that are our destination for this trip. A few of their “Easter eggs” we may find along the way will include an abandoned gold mining tunnel, a private wilderness preserve, an overhanging boardwalk trail in the Chattahoochee River Gorge, a historic Civil War encampment, a “River walk” with wildflowers and wild huckleberry bushes, and a 40-foot waterfall you can see from our kayak.

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