Kayak Little River, a Pristine and Wild Stream in Middle Georgia’s Putnam County

little river kayaking
Little River in Georgia's Putnam County. Photo by Shannon Hammond, American Whitewater

A wild stream northeast of Macon, the Little River is pristine and secluded almost all the way to Lake Sinclair, with the entire Little River kayaking section either in or on the boundary of the Oconee National Forest. The river originates in southern Morgan County and runs southeast over a rock and clay bed between thickly wooded banks of 3-6 feet, with an average slope of 40-65 degrees. A major tributary of the Oconee, the river drains portions of Morgan, Putnam, and Jasper Counties.

Get an Overview of the Altamaha River Watershed where the Little River is located.

USGS and County Maps for Little River Kayaking

Eatonton, Lake Sinclair West (USGS); Putnam (County); Oconee National Forest (USFS)

Little River Kayaking from Glades Rd to Lake Sinclair

TRIP SUMMARY

Class: I-II; Length: 16.9 miles; Time: Up to 2 days; Gauge: Web; Level: 250 cubic feet per second; Gradient: 4.9 feet per mile; Scenery: B

DESCRIPTION

Runnable downstream of Glades Road northwest of Eatonton in periods of wet weather, Little River kayaking sports intermittent Class II rapids and shoals almost all the way to the GA 44 bridge. Averaging 30 to 50 feet in width, the river is winding and convoluted throughout its length. The surrounding terrain consists mainly of low, forested hills conducive to camping. Public lands border both sides of the stream for the first 4 miles and continue another 3 miles past this point on the right side of the river.

The 3.4-mile segment of Little River kayaking below Martins Mill Road down to the GA 16 bridge contains most of the river’s whitewater rapids, interspersed with long pools. Unfortunately, the Little is high in transported sediment, thus making “whitewater” somewhat a misnomer since the actual color of the water at runnable periods is mustard brown. The most ornery rapid in this section consists of an extended jumble of blasted rock lacking an established channel at lower flows.

Downstream of GA 16 is a dam that must be portaged, followed by the last significant section of shoals. The last take-out on the river is at GA 44, but Little River kayaking can be extended another 6.6 miles to the boat ramp off of Twin Bridges Road at Lake Sinclair.

SHUTTLE

From Milledgeville to the take-out, use GA 212 north to reach Twin Bridges Road. Turn right; after 1 mile, turn left and follow signs for the Twin Bridges camping area at the lake. To reach the highest put-in, return to GA 212 and continue north to US 129. Turn right and stay on US 129 as it skirts Eatonton to the west. Turn left onto Godfrey Road, then left at Glades Road. The bridge and highest access point is ahead. Midway access points are found on Martins Mill Road (reached from Godfrey), GA 16 (off of US 129), and US 129 itself

GAUGE

Online data is available for the Little River near Eatonton on the USGS Web site. The minimum recommended level is 250 cfs; the river is more enjoyable with at least 350 cfs. Maximum is up to flood stage.

See more Georgia Rivers

This Little 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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