Kayaking in Georgia is an incredible experience! Here are some of the best kayaking spots in Georgia, including kayaking in North Georgia. One of the best parts about engaging in kayaking as a recreational activity is having the opportunity to explore many places. Kayaking can take place in a variety of different types of waterways throughout the world. This makes kayaking a great activity to pick up if you enjoy traveling to new destinations. Many people are lucky enough to have amazing kayaking spots right in their backyards. This is especially true for people who live in the state of Georgia. Whether you’re a resident of the state or thinking of visiting, kayaking Georgia’s diverse terrain is sure to be a fascinating experience.
The Best Kayaking in Georgia: Our Favorite Spots
There are many waterways in Georgia that are perfect for exploring while paddling a kayak.
Georgia is known for its varied landscape and eye-catching scenery, and when it comes to kayaking in Georgia, there are many great options. Georgia is a fairly large state, spanning just over 59,000 miles. The state is home to over twenty thousand miles of rivers and streams. Not only does the state have many miles of rivers and streams, but it also has a variety of types of rivers which make for a diverse range of kayaking experiences.
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Whether you want to enjoy adventurous whitewater kayaking or a more peaceful, slow-paced kayaking journey, Georgia has a variety of options that will meet your needs. With so much area to cover, there are many great spots throughout the state for kayaking adventures. We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite spots for kayaking throughout the state of Georgia. There is sure to be an entry on our list that piques your interest, but all of them are worth visiting for avid kayakers of all skill levels.
Kayaking in North Georgia
Georgia is geographically divided by the Fall Line. The Fall Line is the former shoreline of Georgia, and it is used as a marker to divide Piedmont and Coastal Plain regions of the state. The Piedmont region, which makes up the northern part of the state, is higher in elevation than the Coastal Plain. The Coastal Plain, which makes up the southern part of the state, was completely underwater during the prehistoric ages and is lower and flatter than the Piedmont region.
There are many geographical differences between the Northern and Southern areas of the state which makes kayaking in North Georgia a much different experience than kayaking in South Georgia. For instance, the rivers that begin in North Georgia run faster and tend to be smaller in size, which makes them great for kayaking adventures. North Georgia features many diverse waterway options including streams and reservoirs that are perfect for many different types of kayaking.
Kayaking Georgia: The Chattooga River
The Chattooga River flows along the Georgia and North Carolina border and is considered to be one of the top kayaking destinations for both states. This river’s source begins in the highlands of the Appalachian Mountains located in North Carolina. The river terminates at Lake Tugaloo after flowing through a variety of altitudes and landscapes throughout the southeast.
There are many access sites to the wild and scenic Chattooga River provided by the Chattahoochee National Forest. What makes the Chattooga River unique from other southeastern rivers is the fact that it flows freely. This river does not have any dams or other structures to slow it down. This makes for an exciting whitewater kayaking experience. There are options for both novice intermediate kayakers to gain experience with multiple Class II and Class III rapids surrounding Earls Ford. Experienced kayakers can pick up new skills at the Bull Sluice Class IV rapids.
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Not only is the free-flowing Chattooga great place to experience adventure and hone your skills, but it has beautiful scenic views that will be appreciated by kayaking and outdoor photography enthusiasts. The river is surrounded by beautifully thick forest land and rocky gorges. The river flows through prehistoric bedrock so you will have the opportunity to enjoy scenic formations.
There are long stretches of this water trail that are secluded and peaceful. The seclusion of the beautiful Chattooga River is thanks to the fact that motorized vehicles such as cars and trucks are not allowed within a quarter of a mile of the river. If you’re planning a trip to the Chattooga, be prepared to hike towards your entry point.
If you are interested in a relaxed and serene river kayaking experience, then the Toccoa River Canoe Trail in Fannin County is a great option for you. The Toccoa River is located in the northernmost part of the State and flows past the Blue Ridge Dam into Tennessee. Once this river crosses into Tennessee it is known as the Ocoee River. Georgia’s Toccoa River is calm and easy to navigate, which makes it a great choice for beginner kayakers. It is also an ideal pick for anyone who wants to partake in activities such as fishing, photography, or yoga while kayaking. As one of the top trout locations in the State of Georgia, Toccoa River is one of our top picks for kayak fishing.
The Toccoa River Canoe Trail features a fourteen-mile run that spans between the Deep Hole and the Sandy Bottom recreational areas. The river is dam-controlled with regular releases based on need. When the dam is released the river is a bit higher and faster. This can make for a more exciting kayaking experience on some days and a more peaceful one on others. You can turn your kayaking experience along the Toccoa River Trail into an overnight experience by camping on the Forest Service land between Margret and Butt Bridge.
The Tallulah River provides a diverse and well-rounded kayaking experience for people of all experience levels. There are sections of Class II and Class III rapids that are ideal for novice and intermediate level kayakers. These areas consist of slow-paced, calm waters. There is also a section in the middle of the Tallulah River that is divided into large reservoirs that are open for kayaking and fishing.
The most exciting section of the Tallulah River, the Tallulah Gorge, is home to rushing runs and twisting rapids that are surrounded by narrow rock walls. This is perhaps the most sought-after area of the Tallulah River. The Tallulah Gorge is an exciting whitewater adventure any day of the year, but it becomes even more riveting during the five select weekends each year when water is released from the Tallulah Dam. This creates rushing rapids that are perfect for thrill seeking kayakers. With sections that are great for kayakers of all skill levels, the Tallulah River is a great option for a family kayaking adventure.
If you live in the Atlanta Metro area, then Fort Yargo State Park is a great option for a weekend getaway kayaking Georgia. Located in Winder, GA, Fort Yargo State Park is a calm and peaceful kayaking location for beginner and practicing kayakers. There are ACA-trained kayak instructors that are available for paddling lessons. Fort Yargo State Park is home to a 260-acre lake, Lake Marbury, that is perfect for activities such as fishing, photography, and light paddling. You can also enjoy swimming in the lake.
In addition to kayaking, visitors to Fort Yargo State Park can enjoy historical sightseeing. The park features a log fort built in 1792. There are scenic tours that enable you to enjoy views of beautiful wetlands, wild birds, and scenic views of the shoreline. The park’s beautiful scenery that is perfect for weddings, birthday parties, and family reunions. There are many facilities including shelters and pavilions. This is a perfect location for an action-packed weekend filled with a variety of activities including kayaking.
You can enjoy an overnight kayaking trip by reserving one of the fully equipped cottages, campsites, and lakeside canvas tents, also known as yurts. These canvas tents are fully stocked for comfort. They include furniture and electricity on the insides and you will have access to outdoor picnic tables, grills, and fire rings.
Located in Stone Mountain, GA, Stone Mountain Park Lake is another great option located near the Atlanta area. Stone Mountain Park is a great destination for an activity-filled weekend adventure for the whole family. Although it is most known for its popular mountain hiking trail, Stone Mountain Park is also an excellent destination for kayaking. The lake is most tranquil during the early morning hours due to the fact that Stone Mountain Park gets pretty crowded throughout the day. There is an REI boathouse located on the waterfront where you can participate in kayaking classes and outings.
The lake at Stone Mountain Park Lake is over 500 acres and is clean and deep. There is plenty of secure parking available near the boat ramp. There is also plenty of availability for other outdoor activities such as hiking, golf, and tennis.
At about 10:30 a.m. I launched my CD Storm touring kayak at the boat ramp of Ridgeway Recreation area near the upper reaches of the lake. I had planned to paddle as far as I could up the Coosawattee river arm of the lake. It was a great day for kayaking as it was fair and the high temperature reached the low 80’s. By the end of the trip, it was completely overcast with a very gentle breeze.
If you are interested in kayaking near the mountains, then you’ll love kayaking on Carter’s Late. Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Carter’s Lake offers a beautiful kayaking experience. This lake is secluded and tranquil and a hidden gem when it comes to kayaking in North Georgia. The views on Carter’s Lake are scenic and there are many waterfalls surrounding the lake’s shores. The sound of gentle waterfalls creates a meditative ambiance.
Carter’s Lake flows into the Coosawattee River which is known for its dark, murky waters. This river has a lot of similarities to the rivers in South Georgia. In this area, you will spot a variety of animal life including turtles, vultures, and kingfishers. Both Carter’s Lake and the Coosawattee have gentle water and light currents. This waterway is a great pick for beginner and intermediate kayakers.
The Etowah River is a 163-mile-long river that runs from Lumpkin to Floyd County in North Georgia. The most popular place for accessing the river for kayaking is in Bartow County, GA. There the river runs through Lake Allatoona and is accessible through the beautiful George Washington Carver Park. There are four kayak entry points located in the county that allow you to easily access the river. This area is great for enjoying a kayaking adventure with the whole family. Most of the river is leveled at Class I with occasional rapids that make the experience a bit more adventurous for beginner paddlers. If you are a fisherman, then you’ll enjoy fishing in one of the state’s most biologically diverse rivers.
This water trail is one of the state’s most beautiful hidden gems. While kayaking along the trail, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the river’s beautiful waters in the form of whitewater rapids and waterfalls. There is also what is known locally as an “underground river” along the trail which is a quarter mile long mining tunnel from the 1800s. If you are a history buff, then you will enjoy the opportunity of accessing this area by way of the Castleberry Bridge in Dawsonville, GA.
Kayaking in South Georgia
While the smaller, faster rivers of North Georgia are great options for kayaking, there are many great kayaking destinations in the Southern part of the state as well. Since the rivers in the southern part of the state are slower moving, they can be great for beginners. Due to its proximity to the coast, southern Georgia has a variety of different bodies of water including rivers, bays, swamps, and access to the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean. This makes kayaking in South Georgia a very adventurous activity.
Located near Brunswick, GA, the Altamaha River is one of the most popular kayaking destinations in South Georgia. In fact, the Altamaha River was named by the Nature Conservancy as one of the last great places on Earth. When visiting the Altamaha River, it is easy to understand how it earns this title.
The Altamaha is a free flowing, undammed river that is perfect for kayaking. The Altamaha Canoe Trail spans 138 miles and runs from Lumber City straight out towards the Atlantic Ocean. You can navigate the Altamaha on your own or participate in one of the many three to six-hour tour adventures that are offered by companies in the area.
The Altamaha is a must-see destination for wildlife and outdoor photography enthusiasts. This river is home to multiple endangered species, and while paddling the river you will be able to take in the diverse geographical beauty of the area. The area is surrounded by woodlands, salt marshes, and wetlands that make for some captivating photographs.
The Chattahoochee River is one of the most well-known Georgia rivers. It is the longest river in the state, and it runs through both northern and southern Georgia. Although this river flows throughout much of the state of Georgia, we love accessing it through the southwestern Georgia city of Columbus. The area of the Chattahoochee that runs through Columbus, GA is a great destination for advanced and thrill-seeking kayakers who are looking for an unforgettable whitewater experience.
This area of the Chattahoochee River has been the host location for the USA Freestyle Kayak National Championships. It is considered to be one of the top kayaking destinations in the entire country. This exciting whitewater river has a range of rapids beginning in Class II, so kayakers of all skill levels can experience the thrill of the Chattahoochee.
If you are interested in kayaking in North Georgia, you can also access the Chattahoochee River near the Atlanta metro area. If you want to take a kayaking trip while visiting the many attractions that the Atlanta area has to offer, then the Chattahoochee River is a great option. Due to the expansive length of the Chattahoochee River, there are many access points, campsites, and picnic areas associated with the river. One of the best places to access the river in the Atlanta metro area is through the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in Sandy Springs, GA. From this access point, there are 48 miles of river to kayak.
Located in St. Mary’s Georgia, the Crooked River is a perfect destination for flatwater kayaking. This destination is frequently sought after by tourists visiting the Cumberland Island National Seashore. Crooked River State Park has much to offer with its many water trails including Cherry Point Trail, the Grover Island Trail, and Harriet’s Bluff Trail. Each of these water trails offers a different kayaking experience. They are identified by colorful markers and numbered signs that are positioned along the river’s edge. The Cherry Point Trail is four miles long and features sand bars for resting along the way. The Harriet’s Bluff Trail is six miles long and the Grover Island Trail is eight miles long.
Wildlife lovers will be excited by the possibility of sighting a school of dolphins as they swim up the river to catch fish. Kayakers sight dolphins around 50% of the time while kayaking along all of the trails. You will also be able to see a variety of birds such as gulls, egrets, cormorants, and even bald eagles while walking out on the boardwalk.
As one of Georgia’s most popular rivers, Flint River is a well-known kayaking destination throughout the state. In Albany, GA, this river provides for an amazing kayaking experience. Like the Chattooga River in North Georgia, the Flint River is free flowing for a few hundred miles. Its rapids tend to be peaceful and moderate, and it is a great site to experience Georgia’s geographical diversity. While kayaking along the Flint River, you’ll enjoy views of beautiful scenery, interesting wildlife, and the unique blue hole springs.
The Flint River in Albany, GA is a family friendly kayaking destination. You can enjoy the great outdoors for several days by camping with your family along the river. Our favorite spot for accessing the Flint River begins under the Highway 96 bridge near Fort Valley, GA.
This river is a great starting point for paddlers who are new to kayaking. The river is calm and slow moving at an average pace of about one and a half miles per hour. The river is divided overhead by many roads and highways that provide great markers for breaks and access to the river. The most popular points for kayaking along the river are mostly free of any dangerous hazards.
When speaking of a kayaking trip, most people do not envision a swamp. The thought of a swamp usually brings up images of mud and dirt, but the Okefenokee Swamp is an exception to this rule. This swamp has six marked canoe trails. One of our favorite places to kayak near the swamp is Monkey Lake. Located near Waycross, GA, Monkey Lake at the Okefenokee Swamp is a little-known destination that is perfect for kayaking due to the tranquility and beauty of the area. You’ll enjoy the serenity of paddling through hanging Spanish moss and wildlife enthusiasts will be excited for the opportunity to sight an alligator or two. The swamp is also home to a variety of unique bird species. If the thought of bringing your own kayak to a swamp does not sound pleasing to you, then you can always rent one at one of the entrances.
There are numerous other access points that are great for accessing the Okefenokee Swamp for kayaking. There are three visitor centers that are located near the swamp. If you are an adventurous kayaker, then you will love beginning your kayaking trip from the west entrance at Stephen C. Foster State Park which is the most secluded area of the park. The swamp itself covers 680 miles of southeastern Georgia and a small section of Florida.
Exploring the swamp by kayak is truly an exciting experience, especially for wildlife lovers. You can see a variety of animal life including deer, bobcats, black bears, otters, and opossums. You can sight a variety of unique birds such as herons, egrets, cranes, ospreys, and waterfowl. The Okefenokee Swamp is a great location for an overnight camping trip.
Located near the coast, Savannah, GA offers many options for kayaking and other recreational water activities. Kayaking along the Georgia Coast near Savannah and Tybee Island is a peaceful experience. The waters off the coast of Georgia are calm and placid and do not often form large, breaking waves or swells. The water is calm for much of the year aside from during occasional hurricanes. There are very shallow sloping sea beds that the waves are broken up before they reach the sandy shores. The weakened waves are perfect for kayaking and paddle board surfing.
There are also salt marshes off the coast that are great for paddle boarding and kayaking. The barrier islands that surround the salt marshes provide a buffer for strong waves. For a more adventurous paddling experience, you can enjoy longshore currents in front of the islands. The water can reach temperatures as low as 48 degrees during the winter and as high as 80 degrees in the summer. The summer temperatures are perfect for swimming. Wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy the sighting of shore birds such as pelicans and skimmers.
Aside from kayaking along the Georgia coast near Savannah, GA you can enjoy kayaking on the Savannah River. You can paddle to the coast of the Atlantic Ocean by kayaking on the river. A part of the river surrounds Tybee Island which has a lot to see in terms of wildlife. The river’s calm waters are comparable to the placid waters of the salt marshes and coastal beaches. There are various outfitters in the Savannah area that offer informative tours, kayaking lessons, and kayak rentals.
Enjoy Kayaking in Georgia
Georgia’s geographical diversity makes it an ideal location for many outdoor recreational activities. Whether you want to go whitewater kayaking in the rushing rivers of North Georgia or enjoy the peace and tranquility of a peaceful lake, Georgia is an ideal location for your next kayaking getaway. If you are an outdoor photographer, then you’ll enjoy capturing photos of Georgia’s beautiful scenic landscapes and unique wildlife. If fishing is your thing, Georgia’s rivers and lakes are prime locations for your next kayak fishing adventure. All in all, what makes kayaking in Georgia such a rewarding experience is the many possibilities that the state offers.