Trip Ideas

5 Perfect Paddles in Georgia's Outdoors

Paddle your way along Georgia's waterways for a great adventure.

  • Altamaha River

    Formed by the confluence of the Ocmulgee, Oconee and Ohoopee rivers near Lumber City, the Altamaha River watershed is the largest river system east of the Mississippi.

    GDECD Photography

From magnificent mountain headwaters to sparkling salty seas, Georgia has a water experience for every skill level. In fact, the state offers so many different aquatic adventures – from a serene drift to a rollicking whirl – that you’ll never have the same experience twice.

So put in and start paddling at these five top spots!

North Georgia Water Trail 

Hang on to your hats as the headwaters of the Cartecay and Ellijay rivers meet up with the Coosawattee River. The 60-mile Blue Trail gives way to a mellow float into Carters Lake site of the largest earthen dam in the U.S. and some of the state’s best spotted bass fishing. The knowledgeable staff at Wildwood Outfitters (open seasonally) can help you plan an afternoon outing or equip you for a several-day sojourn.

Chattooga River

Raft thrilling Class IV rapids on a 28-mile stretch of Chattooga Wild and Scenic River-CNF along Georgia’s northeastern border, but be ready for the view of a several-hundred foot waterfall at the summit of Glade Mountain when the rolling river crosses the Ellicott Rock Wilderness Area-CNF! The seasoned guides at Southeastern Expeditions pioneered whitewater rafting in the Southeast back in 1972. (Interesting tidbit: They even supplied gear for the movie “Deliverance,” set along the banks and forests of the Chattooga.)

Altamaha River

Kayak among bald eagles and wild turkeys in this ecologically and historically rich southeastern region, named by the Nature Conservancy as one of the 75 “Last Great Places” in the world. Indigenous people and early settlers used its currents for commerce, and at least 125 species of endangered plants and animals live on the Altamaha River. (You might even spot a manatee swimming lazily near the banks.) Three Rivers Outdoors, Inc. offers everything necessary for your wild adventure, including interpretive naturalist services.

Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge

Canoe the tea-hued swamps of the Suwanee River Basin near the Georgia-Florida state line, where cypress forests and water lilies house a spectacular array of animal life. It’s a gentle ride, but look out for gators! Chip and Joy Campbell of Okefenokee Adventures know every nook and nest, and can send you on your way with a marked map. Just be sure to obtain a permit if you’re planning to camp in the wilderness areas.

Tybee Island

Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) along the Atlantic Coast, where pelicans dive for mullet and loggerhead turtles nest just a 25-minute drive from Savannah. On the island’s south end, it’s just a short paddle across the Back River to uninhabited Little Tybee Island and miles of untouched beaches. Don’t want to brave the waves? Follow the dolphins through miles of tidal creeks and marsh eddies. Find plenty of SUP supplies and all manner of water-worthy gear at Sea Kayak Georgia.

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