North Georgia is known for its mild climate, breathtaking views and great hiking trails. But did you know that there are also some incredible places to go kayaking in North Georgia? From lakes and rivers to creeks and reservoirs, there is something for everyone who wants to go kayaking!
We tested our kayaks on several lakes, rivers and reservoirs in North Georgia. There are so many great places to go! This made it really difficult to narrow our favorites down to just 10!
Here is the criteria that we used to come up with our 10 favorites for kayaking North Georgia:
- Tranquility – MOST of the locations we picked are not overly crowded. The water is also not too rough for any skill level.
- Scenery – We didn’t pick just any body of water! The places we picked have beautiful, rolling foothills and lots of breathtaking views
- Distance – All of the locations are easily accessible from several major cities. These include Atlanta, Georgia (an easy day trip!), Chattanooga Tennessee, Greenville, South Carolina and Murphy, North Carolina!
So, keep reading to find out more about our top 10 places to go kayaking in North Georgia. Just remember to wear your personal flotation device (PFD) or life jacket!
1. Lake Rabun
The lake is calm which is great for all kayaking skill levels, and you can either go alone or take the entire family.
Lake Rabun is only 90 miles from Atlanta, but if you are driving from further out and prefer to stay overnight, check out the Lake Rabun Hotel & Restaurant. They also have some great farm-to-table food and a relaxing spa!
2. Lake Burton
Lake Burton is a 2,775 acre reservoir with 62 miles of shoreline and breathtaking views. This makes it the largest of the five Georgia Power North Georgia Lakes. It is known for its clear water which makes it the perfect place to go kayaking!
This lake is also calm which is great for all kayaking skill levels.
Lake Burton also has a white sand beach, picnic area and a scenic overlook. This makes it a great place to bring along the family.
It is right in the middle of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, so the views are spectacular!
You can get there in less than a 2-hour drive from Atlanta.
3. Tallulah Falls
Tallulah Falls is within Tallulah Gorge State Park, and it is one of the 7 natural wonders of Georgia. With Class IV-V-rated rapids, this is not a trip for beginners as it is some serious river whitewater rafting!
To get to the Tallulah Rapids, you will first have to carry your kayak down 600 steps to the gorge floor. Once you launch, you will navigate thru some rapids until you reach about 1.5 miles of flat water. You will then land at Tugalo Dam. Be sure to check the Tallulah Gorge State Park website for up-to-date information about the water conditions, including the water release dates.
The incredible views and colors make this a great pick if you want to do some serious whitewater river kayaking!
The park is less than a 2-hour drive from Atlanta.
I highly recommend hiking at Tallulah Gorge State Park because it is such a unique place. The Gorge is over 1,000 feet deep which makes it the most spectacular canyon east of the Grand Canyon!
4. Lake Lanier
Lake Lanier is the largest lake in Georgia. It has an incredible 692 miles of shoreline with 38,000 acres of water to explore. If you are paddling or pedaling your kayak, there is more water here to explore than you see in an entire year.
Since this is such a large lake, be prepared for rougher waters if you get out of the coves and on to the open water. It is generally safe for beginners, but I highly recommend you go during the week rather than on the weekend or holiday as there will be less boater activity.
If you enjoy fishing, you can expect to catch spotted bass, largemouth bass, walleye, bream, yellow perch and crappie. The lake is known for having some of the best-spotted bass and Striper Bass Fishing in the SouthEast!
5. Chattahoochee River
The river is an iconic, beautiful place. It is surrounded by many parks all throughout the State of Georgia.
There are so many great places to launch your kayak on the Chattahoochee River, but my favorite place to put in is the Chattahoochee River Park (City of Roswell Park). There is a nice 3-mile stretch of water you can kayak, and even kayak fish until you reach the Morgan Falls Dam. I don’t recommend going past Power Island as you may encounter some difficult waters.
You can check out other parts of the river just North of Atlanta, Georgia, but I do not recommend kayaking just below the city as the river can be quite nasty in that area.
The water is generally safe. In fact, many people go tubing for a relaxing day on the water, and it can get very crowded on the weekends and holidays.
The Chattahoochee River water temperature rarely gets above 50 degrees year-round! This makes it an interesting place to fish because you can catch river trout, largemouth bass and Catfish among many other species of fish.
6. Taccoa River
The Taccoa River is also known as the Ocoee River depending on which part of the river you are on. It is a single 93-mile-long river that flows thru the Southern Appalachian Mountains, and it flows thru Georgia and Tennessee.
The river is surrounded by lots of trees making a nice canopy as you paddle down the river!
Most of the rapids range from Class I to Class II, and you’ll need to have some intermediate kayaking skills to avoid some boulders along the way. The waters here are not as calm as the Chattahoochee River, but they are not as extreme as Tallulah Falls either.
This is an easy day trip under 2 hours driving distance from Atlanta, Georgia
I recommend that you put in at 103 Newport Road, Blue Ridge GA and take out at 8055 Aska Road, Blue Ridge GA.
It’s a short drive from the Toccoa Riverside Restaurant which is a great place to eat after a long day paddling.
7. Etowah River
The Etowah River is a 164-mile long river that flows thru many popular towns in North Georgia. I am very fond of this river because I am enjoying the view of the river from my office right next to this amazing river!
The river has different water rapids depending on where you launch, so you will need to choose a section of the water that fits your skill level.
If you are a beginner, I recommend that you start at the calmer waters in Dahlonega, Georgia where you can experience scenic and historic attractions. The River Park Canoe Launch is a great place to put in. The rapids will only be a class 1 or 2 in this part of the river.
If you are a more advanced kayaker, put in at Castleberry Bridge where you will find class II or higher rapids. To get there from Dahlonega, Georgia, take Main Street west 0.6 miles to Morrison Moore Parkway (Hwy 52/9). Turn right on Hwy 52/9. In 1.1 miles, turn left on Auraria Road. In 4.4 miles turn right on Castleberry Bridge Road. The Etowah River bridge is at .9 miles.
Parking is on the left and right on both sides of the bridge. Use caution here, as cars drive very fast on the hills on both sides of the bridge. Do not block the gated gravel drive on the left.
You will also find Class I or II rapids a little further south in Cartersville, Georgia. Hardin Bridge Boat Ramp is a great place to put in. Find out everything you need to know about how to access the river by visiting the Etowah River Trail website.
This is a great river for us locals in Metro Atlanta, but it is also within a 2-4 hour drive from Greenville, South Carolina, Asheville, North Carolina, Charlotte, North Carolina, Chattanooga, Tennessee and Knoxville, Tennessee.
The fishing is about the same as the Chattahoochee River, but it is not as crowded or polluted.
8. Lake Allatoona
This lake is very special to me because this is where my father taught me to launch and land a bass boat and how to fish. You will still find me out there from time to time, but I will be on my kayak instead of a bass boat! It is still one of my favorite spots to go kayaking in North Georgia.
If you are a beginner kayaker, there is a great route that takes you from Olde Rope Mill Park to Lake Allatoona Falls. It’s only about 1.5 miles of paddling, but you will experience a very scenic waterfall where the mouth of Toonigh Creek drains into Lake Allatoona.
Since this is such a large lake, be prepared for rougher waters if you get out of the coves and into the open waters. It is generally safe for beginners, but I highly recommend you go during the week rather than on the weekend as there will be less boater activity.
The water near the dam 145 feet deep, and some of the Giant Blue Catfish catfish are as big as person! You don’t believe me? Check THIS out!
9. Chattooga River
Anyway, I don’t recommend that you watch the movie, but if you are looking for a premier whitewater river for kayaking in north Georgia, then this is a great place to go! The river features thundering falls, deep pools, and narrow, twisting rocky channels.
Much of the river has Class III or Class IV rapids, so this is no place for beginner kayakers!
You can find out more about the Chattooga River’s Wild and Scenic Map by visiting their website.
The Chattooga River attracts around 100,000 visitors yearly who enjoy kayaking, tubing, rafting, fishing, hiking and swimming.
I highly recommend that you go on a guided tour for your first trip, or if you are a more advanced kayaker then go for it!
This is an easy day trip under 2 hours’ driving distance from Atlanta, Georgia.
You probably won’t be fishing from your kayak on these wild rapids, but if you can find a calmer spot the trout fishing is great!
10. Cartecay River
The number 10 kayaking spot in North Georgia is the Cartecay River. This river is around 19 miles long, and it connects with the Ellijay River making it a popular destination for family-friendly tubing and kayaking.
The start of the river is the calmest, and it is the most suitable for beginners. There are multiple places to put in and exit.
If you are an intermediate kayaker, I recommend that you put in at the bridge on Lower Cartecay Road. Here you will find Class II and Class II rapids as you pass small islands and shoals along the way. There is even a challenging finale when you reach Blackberry Falls!
The Cartecay River is great for all skill levels, and it is just a great place that everyone in the family will enjoy.
This is an easy day trip under 2 hours’ driving distance from Atlanta, Georgia.
While you are there, be sure to check out the town of Ellijay, Georgia where you will find some great local restaurants and outdoor shops.
There should be something for everyone on this list of top 10 places to go kayaking in North Georgia. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know!
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