Well, it rained like stink, and the Dog River Reservoir Recreational Complex was accessible to non-Douglas County residents, so . . . a bunch of us petted the hair of the Dog. Hair, of course, is in the eyes of the beholder. Dog River paddling is a nice intermediate creek-run under sane boating conditions. It is exceptionally beautiful with little evidence of human intrusion and only minimal pollution. The Dog’s teeth consist of technical rapids, tricky converging currents, grabby holes, strainers, and undercut rocks and all kinds of private landowners who would prefer you not scout from the bank.
Get an Overview of the Chattahoochee Watershed where Dog River is located.
USGS and County Maps for Dog River Paddling
Winston, Rico (USGS); Douglas (County)
Dog River Paddling from Post Road to the Reservoir
Class: II-III (IV); Length: 7.3 miles; Time: 4 hours; Gauge: None; Level: None; Gradient: 17 (50) feet per mile; Scenery: B-
The Dog starts small and easy and consistently increases in size and difficulty. From the Post Road bridge to Banks Mill Road Dog River paddling bounces over intermittent small ledges separated by short pools. Class I rapids build in intensity approaching the GA 5 bridge. Some acceptable surfing holes follow as the Dog begins to bite. Then, a couple of miles into it, the river goes through several stages of steep rocky drops and large pools, followed by more steep drops and pools, forming a mile-and-a-half of continuous whitewater. These include some relatively technical Class III rapids that transform into Class IV in high water.
The Dog River paddling run changes significantly according to water level. Scout the rapids from your boat, as some landowners can be very sensitive to trespassers walking on their land. The whitewater run includes several islands; all should be run on the left unless strainers are present.
The confluence of Flyblow Creek on the right signals the end of the most intense whitewater section and the transition to more tranquil water a quarter mile downstream. Dog River paddling ends abruptly when the last Class I rapid simply stops at a lake. It’s a short paddle to the take-alit at the Dog River Reservoir Recreational Complex on the right. The Complex is open February 20 through Thanksgiving, from 7:00 a.m. until dusk. It is a well managed, exceptionally nice facility that charges per-person fees for access, launching, and parking. Access to this facility for non-Douglas County residents was secured through the courts.
The river may be tempting because of its easy proximity to Atlanta, but don’t trifle with it. When it’s runnable at all it’s pushy, technical in spots, and demanding. Occasional deadfalls add to the danger. Scouting, portaging, and rescue are difficult. Those attempting the Dog for the first time should be experienced with Class III whitewater and should make every effort to accompany someone who knows the run.
To get to the reservoir take-out for the Dog, take 1-20 to Exit 8, west of Atlanta. Turn south when exiting and stay on GA 5 for some time. Eventually, it narrows to two lanes, and a mile or so later it will cross the Dog. Water height can be gauged from here. Continue on GA 5 until it crosses GA 166. Turn left onto GA 166, looking for the sign for The Douglas County Water and Sewer Authority Dog River Reservoir Recreational Complex. You must make a tricky tight left U-turn to enter. To return to the put-in at Banks Mill Road, return to GA 5 and take it back toward the interstate. Turn left onto Giles Road before crossing the river, then turn right onto Banks Mill at the stop sign. The river and put-in are just ahead.
There is no gauge for Dog River paddling and it must be at flood or near flood to run. You can see one rapid from the GA 5 bridge; if it looks bony, the river is too low; if the river is in the trees, it’s probably too high. Consider checking out the Dog if Sweetwater Creek is at 6 feet or so.
This Dog River paddling 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.