Kayak Georgia’s Blackwater Canoochee River and Camp on White Sand Beaches

canoochee river kayaking
Family fun on the Canoochee River. Photo by Joe+Levi+Indigo+Molly

Pristine, secluded, and rich in wildlife and vegetation, the Canoochee River Kayaking is a delightful smooth water stream. Its long stretches of undeveloped land and frequent white-sand beaches make it ideally suited to camping trips. Originating in Emanuel County northwest of Savannah, the river winds its way to the Atlantic, merging with the Ogeechee near 1-95.

Get an Overview of the Ogeechee River Watershed where the Canoochee River is located.

USGS and County Maps for Canoochee River Kayaking

Daisy, Glissons Mill Pond, Willie, Letford, Trinity, Limerick Northwest, Richmond Hill (USGS); Bryan, Liberty (County)

Canoochee River Kayaking from US 280 to US 17

TRIP SUMMARY

Class: Smooth water; Length: 57.1 miles; Time: Up to 6.5 days; Gauge: Web; Level: 2.5 feet; Gradient: Less than 2 feet per mile; Scenery: B+

DESCRIPTION

Characterized by its sparkling burgundy-colored water and white banks and sandbars, Canoochee River kayaking runs nearly year-round above US 280, though it is not as remote as the section described below. There is good access to this upper section via a state-run boat ramp at GA 169.

Downstream of the US 280 bridge, the riverbanks are 3 to 7 feet in height, average 45 degrees in slope, and are lined with black gum, sweet gum, swamp palm, cypress, willow, and swamp white oak. Adjacent floodplains range from unusually wide to virtually nonexistent when pine forests penetrate almost to the river’s edge. Stream width varies from 40 to 60 feet in the upper reaches (US 280 to GA 119) where Canoochee River kayaking is well shaded, to an alternating pattern of broad and narrow sections for most of the remainder of its length. Below GA 119, the Canoochee constricts to 50 feet or less for several hundred feet and then broadens to 140 feet or more. Near its mouth at the Ogeechee, the Canoochee reaches a width approaching 185 to 210 feet.

The moderate current of the upper and middle Canoochee becomes modified by the ebb and flow of the tide near its confluence with the Ogeechee. The level of difficulty is Class I throughout, with deadfalls in the upper section and powerboat traffic in the lower section being the primary hazards to navigation. Sandbars and well-defined banks provide suitable sites for canoe camping. A pass, available for a nominal fee, is required to camp within the Fort Stewart army base; call the Permits and Passes office at (912) 767-5032 to secure one prior to departure. The military can restrict access to roads within the base, so call first to confirm accessibility.

SHUTTLE

From Exit 90 off of I-95 south of Savannah, take GA 144 east to a left-hand turn onto US 17. Continue on US 17 to its intersection with the Ogeechee River; the boat ramp is on the far side of the bridge. To reach the upper access points, return to GA 144 and head west toward Hinesville. Two access points will be passed along the way: one at GA 144 and another reachable via roads inside the base. For higher access, at Hinesville turn right onto GA 119 toward Pembroke. Two more access points are available via this stretch of road: one at another base road to the east of GA 119, and the other where GA 119 crosses the river. For the highest access points, at Pembroke turn left onto US 280/GA 30 and proceed to the bridge at the river.

GAUGE

The USGS Web site provides river levels for the Canoochee River kayaking near Claxton, Georgia. Over 6 feet is in the trees and should be avoided. The minimum recommended level is 2.5 feet. An ideal level is 4.5 feet, leaving sand banks exposed for camping.

See more Georgia Rivers

This Canoochee River kayaking guide is adapted from Canoeing and Kayaking Georgia by Suzanne Welander and Bob Sehlinger and published here in cooperation with Menasha Ridge Press. Canoeing and Kayaking Georgia covers thousands of miles of Georgia waterways from whitewater to wilderness swamps and everything in between. It’s an indispensable guide to anyone interested in paddling Georgia’s rivers and streams. Order directly from Menasha Ridge Press. See a comprehensive list of other Menasha outdoor publications indexed by title, author, category, and region.

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Brown’s Guides is a website about the top outdoor experiences in America and about the professional outfitters and guides who know them best. Hiking, biking, sea kayaking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, and over 100 other outdoor activities are indexed on the site. BG has been doing this type of thing since 1972 in books, magazines, maps and on the Internet.

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