Trip Ideas

Great Places to Kayak in Georgia

From rushing rivers to calm coastal waterways, kayaking in Georgia reveals a new world of adventure.

  • Columbus Whitewater

Paddlers can experience the thrills of combing beaches on uninhabited barrier islands, secluded platform camping in a swamp, and running the whitewater rapids of mighty rivers in Georgia. Rent a kayak and take a guided tour, or bring your own equipment to explore these six iconic places to kayak in Georgia.

Atlanta Metro, Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

Chattahoochee River. Photo Credit: Bill Leffler

Beginning in Northeast Georgia, the scenic Chattahoochee River flows through the heart of metro Atlanta to the Gulf of Mexico. The river's prime downtown location, and its protected natural environment, make it one of Atlanta's most-loved outdoor attractions. Paddling, fishing, and trails for running and hiking make the Chattahoochee a valuable recreational resource for millions of Atlanta residents and visitors.

Outfitters

  • Duluth, Up the River Outfitters - Up the River Outfitters offers tube and raft rentals, as well as shuttle service for paddlers with their own equipment. Choose between two- or four-hour trips down the Chattahoochee River.
  • Roswell, Shoot the Hooch - Experience scenic beauty just minutes from city streets. With year-round boat rentals, and several launch and shuttle options, paddlers enjoy gentle rapids and abundant wildlife sightings in all seasons.
  • Sandy Springs, Nantahala Outdoor Center – Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area - NOC offers kayak rentals and river trips from two outposts at Johnson Ferry and Powers Island in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. With half-day and full-day rentals available, you and your group can explore up to 8 miles of flatwater and Class I-II whitewater. 
  • Sandy Springs, High Country Outfitters Paddle Shack - Just minutes away from Atlanta, Morgan Falls Overlook Park on the Chattahoochee River provides a perfect environment for beginners and expert paddlers, alike. The park has picnic pavilions, hiking trails, restrooms and playgrounds for the public to enjoy. The rental shop is open May to September.

Blue Ridge, Toccoa River and Lake Blue Ridge

Toccoa River

The crystal clear aquamarine waters of 3,290-acre Lake Blue Ridge make it one of Georgia's most picturesque mountain lakes. The lake was formed when Blue Ridge Dam was constructed on the Toccoa River in 1930. The Toccoa River, one of Georgia’s most pristine trout streams, resumes its flow below the Blue Ridge Dam and travels north into Tennessee, where it is known as the Ocoee River.

Outfitters

  • Blue Ridge, Jon Ron Toccoa River Outfitters - Enjoy a few hours or a whole day kayaking the Toccoa River. With options to explore on your own, or paddle along with an experienced guide, there's an adventure for every skill level.
  • Morganton, Lake Blue Ridge Outfitters - Lake Blue Ridge Outfitters has two locations offering kayak rentals and guided tours.

Clayton, Chattooga National Wild & Scenic River

Chattooga River. Photo courtesy Southeastern Expeditions

Relatively primitive and undeveloped, the Chattooga River is one of the longest free-flowing rivers in the Southeastern United States. Located in extreme Northeast Georgia, the Chattooga also serves as the boundary between Georgia and South Carolina. Kayak enthusiasts may be seen shooting the whitewater during the summer months.

Outfitters

  • Southeastern Expeditions - Southeastern Expeditions offers paddlers the thrill of a lifetime on the Chattooga National Wild & Scenic River. With clinics catering to all experience levels, this is an exciting endeavor for beginners and advanced paddlers alike. Learn the basic skills of whitewater kayaking, take on appropriate whitewater for your skill level, and perfect techniques with experts on this world-famous water trail in the beautiful northeast Georgia mountains.
  • Wildwater Chattooga Adventure Center - For an unforgettable Chattooga adventure, combine a kayak clinic or kayak tour with a rafting trip, zipline canopy tours, stand-up paddleboarding, high and low ropes courses and a climbing wall. 

Columbus, Chattahoochee River

Kayaking in Columbus

Chosen to host the 2018 USA Freestyle Kayak National Championships during Paddle South April 14-15, 2018, Columbus is celebrated as a top paddling destination. Kayakers experience some of the largest rapids east of the Colorado River on the longest urban whitewater course in the world. This exciting 2.5 miles of whitewater adventure consists of class II-V whitewater and over eight thrilling rapids.

Outfitter

  • Whitewater Express - Whitewater Express outfits kayakers and rafters, and also runs an aerial zipline over the Chattahoochee River.

Okefenokee Swamp

Okefenokee Swamp. Photo courtesy of S. Heisey/USFWS

Paddling the Okefenokee Swamp, adventurers experience the mysterious wonders of North America's largest blackwater swamp. An amazingly diverse and beautiful landscape, the Okefenokee is one of Georgia's Seven Natural Wonders. Paddlers enjoy breathtaking scenes of trees veiled in Spanish moss, wading birds taking flight, and alligators peeking from the mirror-like reflections of the sky. Kayaks and canoes can be rented at both the East and West entrances.

Outfitters

  • East entrance: Folkston, Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Okefenokee Adventures - Plan an overnight swamp paddle with Okefenokee Adventures in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge at the Folkston east entrance.
  • West entrance: Fargo, Stephen C. Foster State Park - At the west entrance, Stephen C. Foster State Park, find a campsite or cottage under the starry skies of Georgia's only Dark Sky Park, and enjoy guide-led sunset paddles and astronomy programs.

Savannah & The Coast

Kayaking in Midway, Georgia

Explore Georgia’s salt marsh, barrier islands, Intracoastal Waterway and more by kayak from historic Savannah and other coastal towns. If you have your own kayak, there are many places to launch. One gorgeous park worth seeking out is in Midway: Jones Creek Park. It is on a tidal creek, so be sure to check the tides before you head out. As you head in for the evening, be sure to check out the sky as the sun sets. The colors are truly remarkable!

Outfitters

  • Savannah, Moon River Kayak Tours - Explore the beauty of Savannah from Moon River and the protected waters of Skidaway Narrows. Just 15 minutes from downtown Savannah, guides lead kayakers along rivers and marshes, spotting wildlife and visiting an uninhabited island. Paddlers have the chance to watch playful otters, spot dolphins and admire soaring eagles overhead.  
  • Savannah, Savannah Canoe and Kayak - Savannah Canoe and Kayak provides top quality canoeing and kayaking instruction, guided tours, and camping adventures to the barrier islands of the Georgia Coast.
  • Tybee Island, Sea Kayak Georgia - Sea Kayak Georgia offers fun, refreshing adventures exploring Georgia's barrier island coast. Touring protected estuary and salt marsh around Tybee and Little Tybee Islands, paddlers experience a new perspective of coastal beauty. Environmental guides ensure exceptional opportunities for wildlife viewing, secluded picnics and relaxed beach combing.
  • Sunbury, Dunham Farms - A short drive from Savannah, this 30-acre estate with luxurious country lodging and gourmet dining offers guided kayak tours through Dickinson Creek. Experience flat water kayaking on a scheduled tour, or book a private tour with six to 12 of your friends. It's the perfect adventure for anyone new to kayaking or Liberty County.

Candy Cook is Georgia's official Outdoor Explorer. Find more of her outdoor trip ideas on ExploreGeorgia.org.

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