Georgia is rich in natural waters, which makes it a haven for avid paddlers.
No matter whether you are looking for whitewater kayaking in raging rapids, leisure boating along calm beaches, or discovering swamplands, Georgia will have something to offer.
Here are the best places to go kayaking in the state of Georgia, USA.
The Chattahoochee flows on the Alabama-Georgia borderline and has a 48-mile stretch on its upper section where you can paddle. It’s known as the Chattahoochee River National Water Trail. There are 17 access points on these stretch and mile markers along the bank. Put your kayak in at Buford Dam and follow the river to Peachtree Creek.
A solo trip down the river is relaxing and leisurely. Although most of the stretch is calm and slow-moving, there are a few spots Class I to Class II rapids that make for an exhilarating ride for thrill-seekers.
The river also provides opportunities for cold-water trout fishing and wildlife viewing. Get a glimpse of blue herons, white-tailed deer, and owls in their natural habitats.
On a hot day, the waters remain below 50° Fahrenheit cool, and at dusk, you can hear the symphony of crickets, owls, and frogs calling out, bats darting about, and toads leaping underfoot. You can plan any length of float, but you can’t stay overnight as there’re no camping spots.
More info on paddling the Chattahoochee River
There’s nothing like kayaking to get your family used to paddle in this quiet, shady spot just North of Atlanta and Augusta. It’s located just 1.5 hours south of Atlanta.
This human-made reservoir offers more than 15,000-acres of peaceful waters to fish in your kayak. Access is easy via two public boat ramps. You will also find boat storage areas and marinas on the lake.
Spend time on the water with your family or ride into one of the hidden coves or inlets for some alone time. Go through the Bartram forest and the Oconee River Greenway for wildlife viewing opportunities such as turkey, deer, raccoons, and birds such as Red-cockaded woodpecker, osprey, and herons.
Fishing is big here, too. Bring out your tools and try your luck at some large and smallmouth bass, catfish, or crappie, if you like that sort of thing. In any case, a day spent on Lake Sinclair is likely to be an unforgettable adventure!
Nature Conservancy named the Altamaha River one of the 75 last great places in the world. It is the second-largest watershed in the East and home to over 130 rare and endangered species. You can see this and many other exciting features while riding the river’s peaceful waters on your kayak. There are various opportunities for 2 hour or combined multi-day kayaks through the river’s woodlands, scenic salt marsh, freshwater wetlands, and many wildlife management areas.
Catch minks, bald eagles, gators, endangered West Indian manatees, and otters as they roam the bottomland forest and the tidal swamp. The waterway is also critical habitat for swallow-tailed kites and bald eagles. You will find loading facilities and boat ramps along the river bank. Bring out your fishing gear for a battle with some large and heavy bluegill and bass fish. You can also fish some crappie, sunfish, and catfish from the water.
More info in the Altamaha River
If you are ever in Athens, Georgia head over to the Broad River for a date with Class II to Class IV whitewater kayaking.
The Broad River is one of the remaining free-flowing rivers in Georgia. It originates on the Hudson River and flows to Bobby Brown State Park. These 70 stretches of water offer opportunities for kayak fishing, wildlife viewing, and spectacular photography.
You can spot kingfishers, osprey, blue herons, bald eagles, various turtle species, otters, and beavers. Bring your fishing equipment for a chance at redhorse, bass, and catfish.
Savannah Rapids Park
Savannah Rapids Park is a passive recreation park sitting on a 33-acre land between the Reed Creek Waterfall and the Augusta Canal. For the past 150 years, this spot has been a favorite among nature lovers; it offers floating, wildlife viewing, picking, and photography opportunities.
The Savannah River may be reserved for experienced paddlers, but the Augusta Canal is for everybody. Begin at Towpath and down the River Levee Trail into Augusta, or take the trail from Towpath to Mill Village and then towards the Discovery Center. In any case, you will get the opportunity to marvel at historical sites while exploring this spot.
Animals on the trail include gators, ducks, deer, fox, raccoons, Muscat, and crawfish. Fishing is allowed, so bring your equipment if you love that kind of thing.
More info on kayaking down the Savannah Rapids Park
Tybee Island has three miles of beaches and salt marshes for kayakers to explore. Just ensure you get an early start so you can catch the beautiful sunrise as you ride the waters towards a beautiful uninhabited island or a historic lighthouse.
You can paddle the high tides from Lazaretto Creek Historic Village through protected marshland and the famous Dolphin Bay to Drift Wood Beach. The Bay is most enjoyable when at its highest peak. You will get views of the Cockspur Lighthouse, standing lonely at the center of the Bay.
Kayak over for a view of the Battery Park historic site. The Drift Wood Beach offers shell collecting opportunities and great views of surrounding islands.
If you are ever in Savannah, take a 40 minutes drive North for a chance to paddle down a slow-flowing cypress-covered and Spanish-moss-lined water trail. This spot offers unique views of the south’s blackwater swamps.
You can begin the excursion at Tommy Long Landing and paddle your way towards the Savannah River. It’s an opportunity to fully explore the cypress-tupelo swamp and soak into the Native American era history as well as the 1734 Salzburgers’ landings.
If you’ve got the time, visit the Ebenezer Crossing; it’s an important historic site along the cypress-lined river. The site covers 278 acres. In 1864, hundreds of freed slaves drowned at this crossing. They were traveling with Union Forces, escaping a troop of confederates when they encountered the swollen creek. Unfortunately, all bridges were removed on the orders of the Union Command.
Besides its historical significance, the place is also a habitat to a significant population of cypress gum, bass, brim, catfish, gators, barred owls, red-tailed hawks, and king snakes. But there are no mosquitoes or many biting insects!
More info on the Ebenezer Creek
For a great kayaking spot near Clayton, the Chattooga River offers Class II to Class IV whitewater and Seven Foot Falls that make for an exhilarating trip. From its origins in the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina to its confluence at Lake Tugaloo, the river cross-crosses some of the beautiful landscapes in the southern country. It is fed by small creeks flowing with fresh mountain rainfall and spring water. You can explore all this and a lot more on your kayak.
There are various access points along the popular Wild and Scenic River Corridor. There are sections for paddlers of different skill levels. As the river cuts its way through bedrocks, you will get the chance to explore the most spectacular rock formations. Paddle your way down fast-flowing channels, surrounded by towering cliffs and lush greenery.
Some of the wildlife that makes the river scenic include dogwoods, mountain laurel, rhododendrons, salamanders, eastern hemlock, whitetail deer, and black bear. Fishing is big here, too, with shoals of the brown, brook, and rainbow trout often swimming close to the surface.
More info on paddling the Chattooga River
Sweetwater Creek State Park
If you want a great kayaking spot near downtown Atlanta, head over to Sweetwater Creek State Park. A wooded trail along the creek leads to the historic New Manchester Manufacturing Company; explore all this and a lot more on your kayak down the waterway. Just a few miles beyond Millie’s rocky bluffs, people come here for the view of the beautiful rapids.
The trail also winds through fields of wild azaleas, ferns, and magnolias, and forests of hardwoods. Activities along the trail include fishing, feeding ducks, picnicking and wildlife watching. You can spot birds such as American crow, belted kingfisher, golden eagle, red-billed woodpecker, and wildlife such as bobcats, beavers, coyotes, and various types of snakes.
There are also kid-friendly trails to explore with your children too. These include the White and Red trail Loop, the George Sparks Reservoir Trail, and the Red Trail. Check them out here.
More info on the Sweetwater Creek State Park
The Toccoa River offers 13.8 miles of Class I to II waters, wildlife viewing, and fishing activities that great for a weekend getaway or overnight camping trip. Start your excursion on the north bank and follow the river west and North as it heads towards Blue Ridge. Expect beautiful; scenery and only a few Class I to II rapids.
The trail passes through forest-covered public land, rhododendron and laurel thickets, and their resident wildlife, combined with great fishing and small Class III rapids near its midpoint. You can paddle the entire length in just 6 hours.
Take out your camera and snap photos of deer, ducks, herons, geese, and turkey as they roam about majestically. Bring out your fishing equipment for a battle with large, heavy, rainbow, and brown trout. Finish your kayak trail at the Sandy Bottom Canoe Take-Out.
This brings us to the end of our list of the best places to go kayaking and canoing in Georgia, USA. If you know of any other amazing watertrails in the area, please leave a comment and let me know.
Also, if you operate a kayaking business at these locations and would like to be featured on this page, please get in touch.