Atlanta is a fantastic city with a lot of possibilities for summer fun, but it is rather land-locked, so if you’re looking for a water adventure, you’ll want to head out of town. Whether you are an experienced pro or a fresh beginner, kayaking and canoeing are great ways to get in touch with Georgia’s rivers and enjoy the summer sun. Whatever you do, just make sure that you don’t take on the rapids alone, as this is one situation where there is definitely more safety in numbers.
The best whitewater river in Georgia is commonly agreed to be the Chattooga, with section two being best for beginners and section four being appropriate only for advanced canoers and kayakers. You may see indicators that some rivers are appropriate for “trained beginners,” which means that the course contains relatively large eddies and is not as smooth as the paths set out for more nervous or unsure beginners.
The Chestatee River, former home of the Cherokee, is now a beautiful spot popular with first-time canoers and kayakers. This is a great choice for families, romantics or those who otherwise want to enjoy a tranquil and lovely day on the water. Expect a few gentle rapids and beautiful scenery. The trip takes an average of two and a half hours and there are several birds, deer, otter and turtles to be seen. You may want to pack a lunch and stop for a break at Big Bend Beach in the middle of the trip.
Yahoola Creek is a one-hour addition to the Chestatee River trip, only available during times that have seen more rain, as you need a sufficient amount of water to float through the creek. This trip is appropriate only for single kayaks, not for canoes, and it is great for beginners. It is also fairly secluded, allowing for a more romantic experience.
The Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area is another great quiet spot for a relaxing, long, remote trip. Even first-timers won’t be afraid of the gentle slopes of this section of the Etowah. The trip takes an average of three to four hours. The Etowah Falls portion of the Etowah River is a more challenging course with rapids and even a 10-foot drop near the falls. There are also great picnic opportunities at the falls. This is described as a moderately challenging trip, so it’s not appropriate for complete novices. You’re best heading here during spring and early summer, when the water is highest.
Organized Group Trips
If you take one of the trips offered by a group like Appalachian Outfitters, they will provide you with a rental of all of the equipment you need, including kayak or canoe, paddles, lifejackets and a shuttle to and from the course. Broad River Outpost near Athens is another great spot to rent equipment and get tips on where to spend your day. Of course, national parks like the Chattahoochee and Cumberland Island also have resources available to help you plan your ideal day on the water. Wherever you choose to go, remember the sunscreen.
Keely Herrick is a freelance writer. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.
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