Established Georgia Water Trails Provide Easy Access to Canoeing and Kayaking in Georgia

kayaking in georgia
Established Georgia River Trails include the Chattahoochee, Chattooga, Etowah, and others

Currently, there are 14 established water trails for canoeing and kayaking in Georgia, with many more in development. A short description of each follows with links to where to find more information. Read more about the established and developing water trails at the Georgia Water Trails Network.


The Altamaha Canoe Trail originates near Lumber City at the confluence of the Oconee and Ocmulgee Rivers and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. On the water trail, you will float past numerous Wildlife Management Areas and state Natural Areas, tidal swamps, and rich bottomland forests. The waterway is flush with wildlife and not the first manmade dam. Boat ramps and landings facilities are located in each county as well as a range of services from bait and tackle shops to picnic areas and marked hiking trails. The Altamaha River has been designated by The Nature Conservancy as one of the 75 “Last Great Places” in the world, and you can explore this magnificent ecosystem on your own or with local outfitters and guides who can help arrange a paddling or fishing trip for you and your group. Read more about the Altamaha River Canoe Trail. Read more about paddling the Altamaha River.


Built in 1845 to harness the Savannah River for manufacturing power, the historic Augusta Canal Heritage Area features several 19th century historic buildings. Many areas along its banks have returned to a more natural state. The water trail follows the best preserved industrial canal of its kind remaining in the South. The trail is located on the canal’s first level and is an easy beginner paddle on moving fiatwater with some current. The trail ends near downtown Augusta. Read more about the Agusta Canal.


The Broad River Water Trail (BRWT) runs from the Hudson River and Middle Fork Broad River to Bobby Brown State Park, The Broad River is one of Georgia’s last free fowing rivers and is known for its historical importance and relatively unspoiled nature. Numerous shoals and mild rapids meander through farmlands, bounded by bluffs of up to 200 feet in height. The National Park Service recognized 99 miles of the Broad River system as qualifying for consideration in the Federal Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Read more about the Broad River Water Trail. Read more about Paddling the Broad River.


The Chattahoochee River National Water Trail was the first designated National Water Trail in the country, Located within the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, the trail begins below Buford Dam and offers cold-water trout fishing, class I and II shoals. and many accessible boat ramps. The river remains a cool temperature year-round, rarely getting warmer than 50°F. Read more about the Chattahoochee River National Water Trail. Read more about paddling the Chattahoochee River.


In 1974. the Chattooga River was designated a National Wild and Scenic River. This designation protects rivers in a free-flowing condition from bedrock and flow alteration and development within 0.25 mile of the river. The Chattooga River includes calm sections and extreme whitewater. Read more about the Chattooga River Trail. Read more about paddling the Chattooga River.


The Tallapoosa River was a major population center of the Creek Indians before the early 19th century. The river travels through Haralson County on its way to Alabama, where it meets up with the Coosa to form the Alabama River. Most of the land surrounding the river is agricultural. For anglers, spotted bass is the predominant species found. The Dub Denman Canoe Trail was developed with help from a grant by the Department of Natural Resources.  Read more about the Tallapoosa River Water Trail. Read more about paddling the Tallapoosa River.


The Etowah River Water Trail stretches from Lumpkin County in north central Georgia to Floyd County in northwest Georgia. The Etowah River Water Trail Stakeholders Group, a consortium of local governments, nonprofit organizations. businesses, and individuals, is working to coordinate development of the trail by installing information kiosks/maps at established public access points, erecting road signage directing paddlers to access points, and assisting local governments with the construction of new public access points. Read more about the Etowah River Water Trail. Read more about paddling the Etowah River.


The North Georgia Water Trail focuses on the Coosawattee River. The trail begins above the start of the Coosawattee in the whitewater sections of the Cartecay and Ellijay Rivers and continues downstream through Carters Lake. The trail ends with
the river’s confluence with the Conasauga River. With strategically located canoe and kayak launches and waterway-accessible campsites, recreationists, anglers, and paddlers can enjoy a few hours or a few days on Gilmer County’s streams, rivers, and lakes.

OCMULGEE RIVER WATER TRAIL (200 MILES) The Ocmulgee River Water Trail stretches from Macon to the river’s confluence with the Oconee River near Lumber City, where they form the main stem of the Altamaha River. The Ocmulgee River Water Trail was created and is maintained as a result of the formation of the Ocmulgee River Water Trail Partnership, which consists of 11 counties, including Bibb, Ben Hill, Bleckley, Coffee, Dodge, Houston, Jeff Davis, Pulaski, Telfair, Twiggs, and Wilcox. Read more about the Ocmulgee River Water Trail. Read more about paddling the Ocmulgee River.


The Okefenokee Wilderness Area offers more than 400,000 acres of wetlands and swamps to explore with seven canoe trails and seven overnight shelters. Paddlers can float through cypress forests, wet prairies, and pine uplands with plenty of opportunities to see a variety of wildlife. A paddling trip through the Okefenokee is an experience that will be remembered for a lifetime. Alligators glide through tea-stained water. Herons and egrets wade through tall grasses and water lilies. Bears roam through hammocks and islands. Read more about the Okefenokee Wilderness Area Canoe Trails. Read more about paddling the Okefenokee Swamp.


The Georgia Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail (a section of the Southeast Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail) was designed by the Coastal Regional Commission and funded by the Department of Natural Resources Coastal Zone Management Program. The National Park Service Rivers Trails and Conservation Assistance program provided technical expertise and guidance on the project. Paddlers can paddle an unbroken trail of tidal marshes and rivers along the coasts of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Read more about the Southeast Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail.

TOCCOA RIVER CANOE TRAIL (13.8 MILES) The Toccoa River Canoe Trail, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia, is a novice-level whitewater water trail perfect for those looking to experience a few rapids and relax amid beautiful scenery: forested public lands, pastoral private lands, laurel and rhododendron thickets, and their associated wildlife. The cool water of the stream is perfect for trout fishing. Fishing, camping, and entering onto private land are illegal without landowner permission, as is fishing from the river in a boat, tube, or any other floating device where both sides of the river are privately owned. Read more about the Toccoa River Canoe Trail.


The Upper Chattahoochee River Water Trail begins at the confluence of Sautee Creek and the Chattahoochee River in White County and ends at Clarks Bridge Park in Lake Lanier (Hall County). There are eight access points and six sections along the corridor that may be used by boaters. Wildwood Outfitters provides access to several Georgia Department of Natural Resources sites that are not yet fully open to public access, including camping at Buck Shoals State Park. Additional camping opportunities and facilities are available at Don Carter State Park. Rapids classifications range from Class I to III (depending on water levels) on upper and middle sections to flatwater/lake paddling on lower sections. Read more about the Upper Chattahoochee River Water Trail. Read more about paddling the Chattahoochee River.


An intimate Piedmont river, the Yellow River Water Trail stretches from suburban Atlanta to Lake Jackson through the counties of Gwinnett, Dekalb, Rockdale, and Newton. Put-in and take-out points are located approximately every 5-10 miles. The river trail is mostly flatwater and has a wide array of wildlife and a rich history from prior mill towns and Native American settlements. Read more about the Yellow River Water Trail. Read more about paddling the Yellow River.

2nd Edition

This summary of Georgia Water Trails 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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